The idea was kindled several months ago and has gone through god knows how many versions of where, when, how and who!! As usual Caroline has been the driving force behind the event like everything else fundraising that she does so brilliantly.
Dave Cook was asked to look at and organise the actual route and pilot it, which he was more than happy to do. The route and destinations wanted to take in and high light the charity work we do with the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance. So Henstridge Airfield Nr Sherbourne was an obvious destination for a half way stop, (a no brainer). As Dave already helps to do the blood runs with the Air Ambulance, he could use these planned runs to also deviate and plan routes, which would be of interest to a diverse range of bikers.
Once a map appreciation had been done in the comfort of home with a suitable glass of homemade elderberry wine (luckily the map was checked again after the subsidence of alcohol, or else we’d have been traversing the lake district where there are some sublime biking roads!!!) once several routes had been identified, it just needed some practical runs to confirm if suitable and equally exciting. With several changes of heart, he settled on the final route which incorporated some country lanes, winding ‘B’ roads, lovely sweeping ‘A’ roads and some pretty fantastic scenery.
Whilst Dave was organising the route, Caroline was busily sorting out the admin, registration and events at the stop off points (whilst having kittens). But it all came together, albeit at the last minute for some things. So, come the weekend of the ride, the admin was in place, the route was marked, the marshals and back crew had been identified and the weather from the Met office ordered.
Sunday 6th saw riders starting to appear from 9am at the newly opened DFW Hub in Honiton for registration where they were eagerly awaited on, by Pete & Lou Harvey. Freewheeler volunteers arrived from all corners of the county to either support the ride or help with marshalling and backup duties. What a fantastic turnout, this alone warranted a guaranteed success of the event.
Marshals deployed, backup in place, pilot and sweeper in position…. 10:30 - it was time to roll!
The route traversed from Honiton via Axminster and then back roads to Beaminster, Maiden Newton, Cerne Abbas, Sherbourne and finally Henstridge Airfield. As the run wasn’t a race it was able to plod along at a steady pace so as not to lose anyone, and also allow riders to take in the views as well as enjoy the winding roads.
Arrival at Henstridge led onto the airfield where we were marshalled to park up at the Henstridge Flying club, which enabled riders to use their café. Ham, egg and chips to Spag Bol’- the café laid on some basic but tasty food to re-energise riders. The group stayed at Henstridge for a couple of hours which gave everyone time to refuel and have a chat.
We were also lucky to have the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance fly over to our location from the other side of the air field and land, so that we could talk to the pilot and paramedics about their work, and have a look around the helicopter, which also led nicely into the link that DFW plays in their blood resupplies.
Itching to get back on the road Dave then led the group onwards to Charmouth via Dorchester, Abbotsbury and Westbay/Bridport. The traffic was building up nearer the popular tourist resorts but the ride could maintain a steady progressive ride. The scenery out over the Dorset coast towards Weymouth, Lyme bay and Chisel Beach was spectacular, even if a little windy on the exposed roads.
Finally, the group pulled into Charmouth sea front car park where Caroline met us again and again marshals indicated where to park. Then tea and cake was in order from the beach café, before a vote of thanks to everyone who had partaken, with vows to return next year for what will be an improved event and hopefully larger turn out. Then into the sunset- riders departed with hopefully ear to ear smiles of what was a ‘Good Rideout’.
38 bikes were registered, with 38 riders (+ pillions) satisfied – phew!! Mission accomplished.
Total mileage 115 miles (1st leg – 61 miles, 2nd leg – 74 miles)
Special thanks to:
Marshals: John Patrick, Rodney Strawbridge, Dean Morgan, John (Big dog) Conway, Paul Curtis, Neil Gardener/Jill Moran, Dave Wheeler.
Medical back up: Alison/Scott Mckenzie, Jake Brunn (and big John & Ian)
Registration: Pete & Lou Harvey
General support: Eric Robson, Dave Endean, Jade Shaw, Simon Jeffery, Dave Webber.
And everyone who had a hand in the organisation who couldn’t make it on the day.