Sunday 13th September 2009, was the 10th anniversary of the Essex Air Ambulance Motorcycle Run. 5,000 bikes gathered at Ford's Dunton Technical Centre before heading off in convoy towards Harwich. Stunt maestro Craig Jones entertained the crowds with wheelies and burnouts that were almost as long as the queues for burgers and coffee. He wasn't the Star of the Show, that place was reserved for the Air Ambulance and its crew. However, life being what it is, the helicopter was called into action and left the event early .... no apology necessary.
The organisation was slick, the segregated car parks were emptied with military precision and 5,000 bikes departed for Harwich without incident. Seeing so many bikes on the road at the same time is an amazing sight, unless of course you just happened to be a car driver waiting to join the same carriageway. All along the route, turn-outs and bridges were filled with waving well wishers. To be riding a motorbike in Great Britain and be 'accepted' by the general public, is a great feeling, especially for a Despatch Rider. Riders and passengers waved back at the crowds and everybody behaved themselves, everybody on a bike that is. Unfortunately, the young spotted dicks in their big noise Vauxhall Corsa's still tried to provoke violence along the A12. But thankfully, none of the riders reacted and the 'Corsa-Boys' survived to annoy us all tomorrow. The day, sponsored by Equity Red Star and Cannon BMW of Braintree, raised more than £40,000 for a service that an increasing number of people, especially bikers, owe their lives to.
Wandering amongst the 5,000 bikes in the car park, I was amazed at the wide range of metal and plastic on display - Scooters, Harley's, Trikes, Classic British, Modern Japanese and Exotic Italian. There were no stars, people or bikes, everybody was equal. It was Animal Farm for powered two wheelers and bragging rights were taking a rest day. In the far corner of car park #3, I spotted a group of immaculate and original Kawasaki KH triples; 350, 500 and 750 versions, a trio of widow-makers. When I was a teenager, my favourite bike was my Kawasaki KH250. I helped to make Sheik Yamani a very wealthy man and kept Darlington's Bob Fortune Kawasaki Centre in business, Kawasaki two-stroke ownership was never cheap, but it was always eventful. It was a bike that made every journey feel like an adventure into the unknown, and often into the nearest hedgerow, but it was the bike that intorudced me to the spirit of biking. It's difficult to form a bond with a bike that you start with a 'Button', but when you kick it into life with your foot, it's a whole different story, you connect. I never had the balls or the finances to graduate to the 250's larger brothers ............. but like the beautiful KH500 above, I've lived to tell the tale.