For the first time, I participated in this run yesterday. It was started about ten years ago by three bikers, and was a charity run in aid of the local Children's Unit at Withybush General Hospital in Pembrokeshire. The three have increased to many, but the run still takes place every December.
It started from a large car park in Pembroke, just beneath the magnificent castle. I overheard an organiser telling the police that he had counted 450 bikes, so there were plenty of people there. By 1 pm, rumour had gone round that things were kicking off, and people started lining up for the car park exit. The roar was incredible - two-strokes, fours, twins, singles, trikes, all revving up like mad and waiting for the path to clear so that they could get moving. As we pulled away, a trike ran over my foot. Thanks, mate.
We went once round the Pembroke one-way system, and then set off into the Pembrokeshire countryside. We crossed the Cleddau Bridge (free! normally 35p for bikes) and then did circuits of Neyland and Milford Haven before arriving in Haverfordwest and parking up in the Bro Cerwyn car park. A large hall was ours for the day, and tea/coffee and mince pies were available. I stayed a while and chatted to a few people, and then made my way home.
It was a brilliant day out. Although speeds were low (very low, my clutch hand was aching when I got home, from the sheer volume of traffic), everyone had a great time. It was quite pleasant to ride through towns and villages and have people come out to wave at you - not because of your dress, or speed, or fruity exhaust, but because they wanted to wave. There was a general good feeling about the whole thing, and the patch clubs kept a low profile (in fact, a lot of them were wearing Santa suits) so there was no hassle at all.
Lots of people brought toys for the Children's Unit, and those who didn't (like me; I don't have a spare teddy bear) could make a cash donation. I don't know how much was raised, but that's almost beside the point. Toys were brought, and funds were raised, and a lot of people (probably about 600) had a great time.
Two complaints from me, both related to other bikers.
One was a Harley that I was forced to ride alongside for several miles. He was on virtually open pipes, and the noise was excruciating. The blam-blam when he opened it up was fine, if a little repetitive, but the clattering when he shut off made it sound like a washing machine full of sockets. Truly awful - and I speak as one who quite likes a good noisy pipe.
The other was a full-dress GoldWing, one of the 1500 ones, i.e. quite old. He had a stereo on full blast, with some ghastly ballad music going. Every time he pulled alongside, I was treated to some distorted balladeer crooning away like it was Christmas. Truly awful again. Mate, if I wanted to listen to the radio, I could have stayed at home. Whatever makes you think I want to listen to your choice of music? What was worse was that he had a child on the pillion - a girl of about 8 years old. She was wearing, get this, an anorak, jeans, pink flowery wellies, a Bieffe motocross lid, and no gloves. Who in his right mind would take a small child on a motorcycle in December and not give her some gloves? I noticed that his outfit probably cost him a grand at least. But to insist that his daughter wore gloves was just too much bother, apparently.
There were a large number of sportsbikes, as you would expect, and a surprising number of trikes, some in better shape than others. There was a Morgan-style three-wheeler powered by a Moto Guzzi V-twin that didn't complete the first circuit of Pembroke, a lot of learnerbikes, a few classics, and even a contingent of kids on twist'n'go scoots. All (biking) human life was there.
Well worth going, and this is now going to be a firm fixture for me from now on.
The XT behaved itself, needless to say.