A day with The Honda Occupation Army


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A day with The Honda Occupation Army

  1. 1. A day with The Honda Occupation Army (or another Appleyards Sunday ride out) It started on Sunday morning when I kicked Pooka (the cat) and Julie (the wife) out of bed at “silly o’clock to get ready for the ride out, I sorted a flask of coffee and some breakfast to go. Barry at Appleyards had another run planned and I was minding the back door again, only today’s’ run was going to be a bit special because a group of wingers from the Essex region were going to join us as part of their long weekend break up here in Yorkshire as was a group of wingers from the Border region, so yes it promised to be a bit special today. We hit the A1 from Doncaster at 08.10 hrs for today’s adventure, only 24 hrs earlier Julie and I had disembarked the ferry at Hull, fresh from an adventure in the Hars Mtns, Germany. As usual I scanned the clouds trying to second guess the weather, so far it looked good, the clouds were high, white and bilious, they looked very busy, great lumps of the white stuff tumbled into each other as the whole lot rose higher and higher, I could see lots of blue sky along the eastern horizon, it looked promising so far. At the Ripon junction the A1 climbed skywards and you could see far away in the direction of Skipton and Keighley from where Barry would be bringing the Essex Wingers and some Yorkies. The sky took on a deep blue, full kind of look. Perhaps the rain was going to stay over that way today? With that thought I felt happier and I piled on the coals and our 1800 black beauty surged forwards towards Thirsk. We pulled into the middle of Thirsk at 09.15 hrs settling our bike on the “olde worlde” cobbles that made up the large market square, It was fairly quiet at this time in the morning with just one of two bikers and some healthy but barking mad joggers, we watched them skip by as we consumed coffee and sandwiches before the first “Wingers” began to arrive. A familiar old lady, sporting the colour purple and wheels of three, rumbled into sight, sat upon her were Lynne and the gaffer wielding John from sunny Sheffield, behind them hung Brian and Janet, yes folks that’s “Janet of The Falklands” the last time we rode together Brian had me into the concrete barrier somewhere in Hungary back in 07! They brought along Karen and Steve ( Sutty) Karen started their day of by tipping 1
  2. 2. coffee all down the side over their ride, “Sutty” did let on to me he was a bit ugly but he never did mentioned how much Karen hated their bike or the rain.. Ooeerr missus!! As he wiped the brown stuff off the pannier more Yorkies arrived, Dave Duffield (Duffy) rattled up to a halt on their grey 1800 trike with wifey Julia on the back, Julia scanned the sky for killer seagulls ever since Llandudno bless her. Tony (Yorkie joint rep) and Hazel (child film star) hove to on their blinged to death red 1800. Along side rumbled a VTX 1800 cruiser, astride this sat a grinning affable Alan (Capt Red Beard) He was growing old disgracefully! Lots more people began arriving all at once, I scribbled names quickly and tried to introduced myself to everyone and stole a kiss and cuddle from some of the ladies. Hopefully I managed to get everyone’s’ name, if not then I’m sorry but you came too quickly! Barry an Tina Walton brought “Stretch” an Linda, fresh from NZ and a BMW tour….bloody traitors you! Stewart an Shaz of Chesterfield, Tony an Sheila, with “Phat” Phil an lovely Tracy. Then almost silently a prominent and graceful Scottish banker popped in. This was Steve (retired) and Jane (not retired) they came all the way from the lowlands of Scotti land on their new red 1800 trike, these guys are original “Appy Wanderers” folk, the smiles and winks are met with much kissing by other originals scattered amongst us, Mick an Christine from Leeds glowed onto the scene, Christine was dressed for a run up a Norwegian fjord in January as a touch of the old Arthritis gave her some discomfort, she was determined it wouldn’t get the better of her and spoil her day. The gang from the Border Wings today were “Jimbo,” followed by Dave an June, Barry an Elaine pulled over next to him with SON of DOUG etched into their screen, Doug had been a Manx rider in his day, hopefully Barry wouldn’t be emulating his old dad today! Paul Adams the Borders joint rep came next, he brought along his sassy daughter, I think Paul was probably an ex sailor judging by the badges on his jacket but there was no time to enquire as they just kept coming! Next came Mike followed by Debb an Pete, George, Steve an Jackie, Nigel, finally Keith an Linda bringing up their rear. I thought that was it until I spotted a jet jockey on a blue Suzuki Bandit looking quite out of place amongst us, sat on it was a beaming Andy a pal of one of the Border chaps, and quite happy not to be scratching his foot pegs today Beaming Andy came back to biking a few years ago, he didn’t want anything too big and hasn’t quite decided to take the plunge and buy a proper bike as yet. Listen Andy my friend, you should go along to Appleyards Goldwing Centre in Keighley, see our Barry and take a test ride on an 1800, your grin will widen further as you rip up the Skipton 2
  3. 3. Bypass with no fuss, AND you can get 48 cans of the old amber nectar in the top box, all the ladies love the comfy armchair at the back, It really is a proper machine mate! I was approached by a man from Essex who surreptitiously kept his dark visor down as he whispered to me colourful descriptions of the Essex “Geezer’s” and their “laydeez” Firstly came “BIG” John an Julie, followed by Gordon (Red 2) he was a joint Essex rep. Next came “Bullshit Bob” with birthday girl Chris, I paused at this and though rather foolishly if Bob bullshits better than our own world famous bullshitter… (Doesn’t worry I wont tell them your name Barry) Next came “Sir Lost a Lot” (because he does) Danny an Chris, following up their rear came the sedate Parker and his Lady Penelope on their bright daffodil yellow 1800, Oh yes the man with the dark visor? Well, that might possibly have been Steve (Red 1) with his woman Kym on the back seat, Steve is also the other Essex rep. Thirsk had come to life as we all milled about greeting old friends and saying hello to new folk, for me also it was nice to put a face to folk Id emailed but never seen. Local dog walkers and chaps with newspapers gathered too having a close look, joggers stopped jogging and children pointed excitedly at this bike and that bike, 1800s and 1500s mingled with trikes of the same horsepower I pointed out to a young lad various interesting bits and why mine was called “Not the Jolly Roger” it was in danger of turning into a static fund raising event! 10.20 hrs approached, it was time to live a little, we pressed velcro to velcro pulled on gloves, scarves, sunglasses and picked some suitable music to leave the scene to! Barry being ever so helpful as usual did some last minute sorting with a couple of folk. Finally we were ready and began to merge with the traffic that was now building up. I pulled into the busy road and stopped as bikes gingerly negotiated the cobbles, pulled onto the road and purred away around the corner, cars sat and waited until the whole flock vacated the market square. Julie waived a big “thank you” to the car drivers as we left I offered a last look around to make sure everyone had gone. “Everyone’s away OK Barry!” I called on the CB and off we rode in the direction of Sutton Bank and the sunny east coast, the weather still looked good in spite of rain showers being the prediction. We arrived at the bottom of Sutton Bank ten minutes down the road; Barry called out a quick description on the ascent up the side of this huge step of land. “Maybe this is why Denis (two dabs) and Lorraine (with 2 R’s) failed to show today”? We pulled over briefly before the climb in order to transfer my camera from my inside pocket to Julies hands. 3
  4. 4. Suddenly from out of nowhere we were set upon by a swarm of a dozen or so very fast moving cars, It must have been a touring club judging by their close proximity and driving style; all seemed to be the Ford Focus model many were orange and spouted throaty exhausts. “Bloody WONDERFUL timing Sharp this is going to be fun!” I said to myself, it was visor down time, chin out belly in…or was it the other way round? I don’t know, I called for more coal and our ride sucked in gulps of fine Yorkshire air and we gave chase, we progressed through them easily nipping past a couple on the incline, taking several more at the crest and surged past the last of them on the straight mile or so that followed. It proved to be quite easy getting past them, as you know motorbikes have a distinctive advantage when overtaking traffic, one can see so much more of the road and need much less room and distance and having a much better power to weight ratio thingamabob. A lot of car drivers are disadvantaged by having no conception of motorbikes, a lot unfortunately carry misconceived perceptions about motorbikes, and it’s a world they know or care little about. Rather like me and campervans I guess. I’m told there was an accident at this very summit between a lorry and a car shortly after we and the touring cars passed by and the road was closed off for the rest of the afternoon. We entered the picturesque Helmsley which sits nicely on the southern boundary of the North York Moors; the square was packed as usual with day trippers and bikers. Helmsley has a great biking road that goes north up to Stokesley through the beautiful Vale of Beadale then cuts along the Cleveland Hills. It’s the secretive B1257, a small twisty and very smooth rabbit run of a road! It passes through gruesome sounding hamlets like Fangdale Beck with its green telephone box and Chop Gate. Today though we went the opposite way picking a couple more wingers up on the way, Mr Paul Barnes (National events sec) and good lady Colleen with them appeared a Golden 1500 with more smiling wingers. Everyone with a CB told me who they were…all at the same time so that my ears blew off! Found out later it was Mr an Mrs Eemmett! We must have looked like John Wayne and his proud 7th Cav as we dropped to a canter and trotted through Helmsley two by two… all 38 bikes. We passed through and increased to a gallop pushing on to Pickering, Barry, “Phat” Phil and Tony did their best to assist in the smooth transition of the group through roundabouts and traffic lights before turning left heading over the flat North York Moors on the A169 towards RAF Fylingdale the old cold war listening station. “All through Barry” I called on the CB before cutting a swift path past the group on 4
  5. 5. familiar territory, I was hurrying to a spot where I could park up and take some cruising pictures as everyone passed by, Julie managed to get some good shots as we passed, so you see everyone she wasn’t trying to eject, she was just contorting her body for “That shot” After capturing some poetry in motion we mounted up and chased after the flock as it disappeared down a dip in the land. A few miles further on we turned left towards the village of Goathland, we twisted and turned along a narrow strip of tamac dipping down into the valley and out of the blast of cold air that whipped across our front, although, judging by the rapidly clearing sky it was going to be getting warm any time soon, Experienced road sheep sat and stared as we passed just feet away, youngsters fled for their lives bounding across the fields towards mum their little tails flapping wildly! Sitting at the back one gets to see the aftermath of our passing, for example we were set upon on, on three separate occasions by stumpy little short legged mongrel village attack dogs during last years transit through a time warp into 19th century Romania. Maybe Ill get around to tell you of that adventure at a later date when the shakes have subsided. Tony and “Phat” Phil had pulled in at Scripps garage and were busy pointing to parking spots for the bikes as agreed by the garage owners earlier, spaces were also made available in the car park across the road at the Goathland Hotel. Also here were scooters, proper old scooters from the 60’s, Lambrettas 160’s 180SX and 200’s not the plastic crap from France that litter our roads today, these old classics are really something and looked after with much love by their owners, I have to admit the first motorbike I even owned was a Lambretta 180 SX, I was just 18 yrs old young, headstrong and girlfriend free, just me my bike and the open roads! I collected several kick-start scars down my right shin before moving finally in the right direction towards girls and a big red Honda CB200 with an electric start (bliss) but for god’s sake don’t tell anyone! People flocked around the bikes and admired. Goathland is where the hit TV series Heartbeat is filmed so was excitingfor the Essex folk, one even thought we’d landed in Emerdale Farm, ha ha! A bit like me riding down the square of Eastenders pulling up outside The Vic and asking for Arthur Daly or Rodders and Del Boy I suppose! It was amusing to hear all the same. Everybody did their own thing for an hour or so, chatting and eating and just strolling along for a while looking at real life back drops to the programme. A bacon buttie was thrust into my mouth by J**** who swore me to secrecy as she was supposed to be on a diet naughty girl. 5
  6. 6. My presence was required in a quiet corner of the car park to report on Jane having her helmet mike gaffered up by Old John, how he could spare some of the precious tape was a sign of true friendship, because they need every inch of the stuff as their purple trike falls to pieces every summer! I watched as Parker gently reversed the 1800 yellow daffodil into another corner, he failed to spot the hanging baskets high on the pub wall, and nudged them with his arials, now that would have been novel to see wouldn’t it? A Honda Goldwing with ash tray AND matching hanging baskets! Time to move on again, people shuffled around the car park and proceeded to exit the busy hamlet, The Honda Occupation Army left Goathland in the direction of Whitby and our next landing, everybody waived at everybody. We head down into Sleights then Whitby just fifteen minutes later, we were split up considerably by impatient Sunday drivers, we arrived therefore in dribs and drabs, in Whitby enough of us knew where we were to park to not be too concerned even so a quick tour of roundabouts took place to other wingers amusement, the carnival hit town to various strains of music emanated from the bikes announcing our arrival. Barry had sorted some exclusive parking around the bandstand for this privilege a donation of £110 was collected and handed over to the Harbourmasters Office for their Shipwrecked Mariners Society. I want everyone please to form a circle and turn to the right to give a pat on the back, well done everyone! Only one bystander was heard to complain, but when the above explanation was given he quickly shut his jibber jabber and melted sheepishly into the crowd. Everyone made for the various fish and chip shops along the harbour road, as the public were left to examine and admire the bikes. Fish and chips always taste better at the seaside don’t you agree? Steve and Jane’s most certainly did, a huge Herring Gull crapped on them from upon high, a great splurge of white “gwano” covered Steve’s left arm, the rest squirted along Jane’s tray of chips! Hazel bought a fish only to find there wasn’t any; she bit into the batter to find….nothing! On our last ride out, Tony (her future husband) lucked out at the dinner stop so saving himself for the famous fish shop at the next stop he found it had run out of famous fish, how bizarre is this? Whatever you do guys don’t follow these two to the “chippie” next time your out you’re sure to end up with a tray of bugger all! Julia was also suffering a spot of “Day Jar Voo” she insisted she had just spotted her troublesome windowsill guardian George Seegul from Llandudno amongst the hundreds and hundreds of gulls, she insisted it was him because of the way he stared at her. 6
  7. 7. The clouds were gone now and the sun bathed everyone in warmth, it was truly a lovely day now, people gathered back at the bikes after an afternoon stroll, and mingled with the public some had gifts for home, some had customary sticks of rock, I just had red sauce on my face and Julie by my side. It was time to move on again, the guys from Border Wings were heading up north from here so we said our goodbyes until the next time. Our numbers fluctuated as we lost those but gained Steve Spence (Spanners) and Mick Emmett an Colleen. A leathered group of Harley riders stood on our flank as we made our way from the band stand onto the road and preceded up the cliff road, Thanks for guarding against any cars chaps, the Honda Occupation Army was on the move again! We left Whitby and turned south along the A171 coast road towards Scarborough, queen of the east coast, this is a lovely coast road that undulates along the moors edge, seven miles further on we approached our right turn into the North Riding Forest Park onto a tiny tiny road, from way at the back Julie counted 26 bikes and trikes still with us! This road is so small it has no name or number, even Garmin doesn’t sound so sure now, when prompted to speak I’m sure she had just said “Erm…” We passed through oddly named hamlets like Silpho, Hackness and troutsdale. The Essex guys were chatting to each other on the CB about how beautiful it looked around these parts. I remember thinking the same when I used to visit the bike haunt at High Beech in Essex when I lived in London. A young girl on a horse had a few minutes pulling and pushing, with her boy, lots of bikes had passed slowly by, but now enough was enough! Us last five bikes sat and waited for her to calm her boy down before we passed very slowly, he stood stock still, his feet firmly planted in the “I’m not moving another inch today stance” we smiled nodding apologetically at each other as we passed. Minutes later we came across some “Twitchers” they were along the road and in the hedge line with field glasses around their necks scanning for some movement in the distant trees. They didn’t seem very happy with us as we passed by flaunting dangerous frightening colours dark blues, silvers, various hues of red, shiny gold’s, and glinting chrome bits. Personally I thought they were a bit harsh on us, at least we didn’t have Des O’Conner warbling from the stereo systems and wrecking the peace did we? It was about here that I encountered the only arse of the day in the form of a shiny blue BMW car, with two young kids strapped in the back, a pretty blonde lady in the front and slim Jim at the wheel, quite young parents I thought probably in their late twenties. They came up behind us quickly; suddenly he popped out and passed me to squeeze in between me and the next bike. With not a lot of room to spare he was driving like he wanted to pass again, I pulled out opposite him and motioned him to 7
  8. 8. wind his window down, I wanted to tell him there were nearly 30 bikes in front of him and to hang back until we got to the A64 which lay just ahead a few miles. He gave me an obscene gesture with his right hand which he kept low and out of site of his wife, his wife was looking at the bikes ahead, his kids were out of site in the back and this arse was doing this ton me! I pulled ahead quicvker than he tucking in behind the last bike and just and kept him off our tail. Maybe he was intimidated by me or had fallen out with wifey or himself even, I don’t really know, there was nothing to be done except keep him away which I did. At the A64 he disappeared. People never cease to amaze me sometimes. We began to loose individuals now, the new red trike took Jane and Steven back to Scottiland, the purple one took Lynne and John to their passion wagon over at Pickering. The rest of us stopped presently and took on fuel for the last time before heading off towards Sherburn Café near Leeds, our last stop and my local bikers haunt since I was a youth. Its now moved location from a milk bar in the 1960’s to a rundown pub at the other side of the village, much of the atmosphere has gone too as new owners concentrate on making money and not looking after bikers interests. The survivors gathered under the sign for a team photo, had a mug of tea and pasties we all chatted some more before Barry gathered the Essex riders and herded them back to their hotel in Keighley for their last night in Yorkshire the price of a pint struck the guys so much that they are set to return next year! We too head of towards home near Doncaster with two other bikes; it had been a great day with lots of sunshine and just the one shower on the last fifteen miles towards Sherburn, this was intended to wash off the dust from the forest trail, it lasted only minutes so nobody really minded. Until the next gathering then folks….. …… The Scribe 8