'Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do' ....... John Wooden
I'm not sure if I ever truly believed that this day would arrive, 'Departure Day'. Given another month of planning and we would have been better prepared, but sometimes you've just got to go with what you've got.
We were due to be at the Ace Cafe for 7pm but arrived fashionably late for The Riders Digest magazines national launch. At least It started well for Harry Hill who will be pinning next years BAFTA hopes on footage of my collisions with firstly a traffic cone and secondly an Aprilia 250 on entering the Ace car park. A big thanks to Julian of Boxertrix.com for catching the Aprilia in mid-fall and thus preventing the predictable comedy moment where a line of 9 motorbikes prove Nixon's domino theory to be correct. (Apologies to the Aprilia owner; no damage, ...... and when I say 'Comedy Moment', of course I mean for everyone except the owners of the actual bikes involved). Personally I put my crappy riding down to 'Stage Fright' and not to the fact that I am indeed a 'Crappy Rider'.
To our surprise, Alan and I were ushered to the VIP enclosure where the Tigers took pride of place. No sooner had we parked the bikes than Mark Wilsmore; saviour and owner of the Ace Cafe since 1996, appeared with sausage sandwiches, hot coffee, Ace Socks and the offer of free food for the evening. He then posed for photographs with the bikes. Now, some of you may never have visited the Ace Cafe, .. a few may never have heard of it, ... but Mark Wilsmore asking to pose for pictures is akin to Valentino Rossi asking for our autographs, it shouldn't happen to blokes like us. (With respect to the future trading prospects of the Ace Cafe, I convinced Alan that the offer of free food for the evening was in fact, ..... a Joke).
Given that The Riders Digest we're involved, we expected a few people to be there, but the level of interest was truly staggering. People that we had never met seemed to know who we were, where we were going and why we were doing it, we even had John Chatterton-Ross, a UK director of the FIM (Federation Internationale De Motorcyclisive) waiting to interview us about the trip. For two blokes who have made careers out of being invisible we really didn't know how to react, ... we were honestly overwhelmed.
Many thanks to everyone for the words of support, .... the Mars Bars, the donations, the Euros and the level of encouragement, ....... next stop Squires.