Monday, 11 February 2013

“The Future of Biking is in Safe Hands”

The thing is, it could easily have turned out so differently because Ben’s biking future was put in jeopardy almost 2 years before he was even born.

Looking at my heavily pregnant wife knelt down consoling the swastika shaped broken biker with the words “well you couldn't have chosen to have had your accident in a better  place, what with a nurse & a doctor here”.

I looked up to see biker number four frantically ripping his own helmet off just in time to vomit at the side of his bike. The reason being, he was partially responsible for the mess we were now dealing with. He had just ridden over his friend, well in excess of the national speed limit, braking his mates collarbone and his own bikes belly pan in equal measures.

My stomach was churning. If I ‘d not been a biker, this poor wreck laid out on the floor would most certainly have been dead.  The reason being, I would have driven over him. I’d backed off  as soon as I heard his bike screaming to keep up with the his two mates on their 1000cc sports machines who had just overtaken us and the two cars in front. When biker number three appeared alongside us I knew exactly what was going to happen, Black Suzuki 600cc Bandits are no match for full on 1000cc race replica bikes.
The poor old couple heading straight at the Bandit never had a chance, he hit them full on sideways just 20 foot in front of us ……..

Every single time I take Ben out with me, that vision is as clear in my head today as it was 12 years ago when it happened. Does it stop me taking Ben with me? The simple answer is, no!

Jeannie was beside herself the morning I told her I was going to nip Ben to school on the back of my “Jamie Oliver” the aptly family named Aprilia 125 Mojito Scooter. Ben had wanted a “go” on the back for the last 6 months, well from the moment I brought the scooter home to be honest. The crash had meant I’d had a few years break from biking. Well what do you expect! We had just been driving back form the Clay Cross bike shop where I’d almost just put a deposit down on, yes you guessed it, a Black Suzuki 600 Bandit, when the crash occurred.

I remember Jeannie asking me to be really careful, she even came out to take this photo.

"From Tiny Acorns, Giant Oaks Shall Grow"

Maybe not the roughtie, toughtie,  leather clad Harley riding duo some lucky kids get for a first photo but I’m as  proud of this photo today  as I am of any that I have taken since.

Ben has joined me on so many adventures in the last 6 years, as pillion. I did however have to undergo professional training to satisfy Jeannie’s desire to ensure both our safeties. Enrolling on the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) Bike course in 2010 and passing with flying colours really put the hat on it and since then Ben has done some serious mileage.

Local ride outs with the RBLR (Royal British Legion Riders) became a regular fixture in 2009 – 2011 attending Rallies in Birmingham, The Lake District, plus The Wirral Egg Run amongst many others.

In 2010 Ben became the youngest Britt Butt Light Rally Pillion to finish the 12 hour photographic Rally. He covered 376 miles in 11 hours, collecting 6345 point along the way to put us in 18th  position out of a field of over 30 participants. He was aged just 8 years old at the time. Ben collecting his certificate from Pete West the President of the Iron Butt Association is still one of my proudest moments ever. The framed newspaper article and certificate hang on our wall to this day

IBA UK Britt Butt Rally 
"Youngest Ever Pillion" at 8 years old

Mind all this pillion riding does take it out of you!

During the winter of 2010 I decided to spend some time in the garage re-building a 1993 Kawasaki ZXR750 L1 to its former glory. Not everyone’s choice of “Classic Bike” but it is the bike I owned when I met Jeannie and so hold great sentimental value to me. Ben helped me every step of the way. He made so many videos for YouTube he became a real dab hand at it. A friend of mine suggested I blog the whole process. Ben was delighted with idea and helped all the more. I named the bike Trinity, wrote the blog and made the decision to give the bike to Ben for his 21st Birthday.  Trinity will be 30 years old when Ben inherits her and with a full blogged history to back up his present I’m sure she will be in good hands.

The blog is now used to plot all our rides and is easily found on line at “The Wandering Walton’s”. 

Ben's Filming Debut 

That's the wheels sorted! Whats's next Dad?

In 2011 Ben travelled to  France with the a group of local riders and I, visiting a great many of the World War Two War Memorials, the Allied Landing Beaches, Museums and even had a day trip to Le Mans.

The beaming smile says it all!

Not bad for a 9 year old. One poignant photo which I took still brings a tear to my eye. We spent a few hours searching for head stone of  one of the riders relatives. On finding it Ben knelt down and wept and in doing so brought a tear to many a tough riders eye.

"Lest We Forget" 
I know we won't

It’s not all been plain sailing mind. In 2011 I decided we would have a “Dad’s & Lad’s” trip down to Monaco on Mr T. We got as far as Reims in France when disaster struck. We spent an interesting night under canvas and just as we were about to leave the camp site I decided to take a photo (nothing new there I hear you sigh). The first photo of Ben sat on Mr T looked OK but I wanted one more photo with more of the camp site in it. I walked around the front of Mr T and put the camera up to my face at the exact moment Mr T complete with Ben on board fell over!

Next stop Monaco, or not as fate would have it!

I can still see his little face, trying his hardest not to upset me but I knew deep down the adventure was over. Ben asked me to pull in at the next available services so he could ring his Mum. Heading back the way we came I was fined 150 Euro’s for doing an illegal U turn on a French motorway. I was so stressed out I even forgot to pay at the next fuel station. Honest as I am I tried to sort the payment at the next services but it was a waste of time, I don’t speak French and the attendant did not speak English. Ben just wanted to get home.

We rode 687 miles from the South of Reims back to Rochdale in one hit. Stopping only for fuel and some food, Oh! and a warm through at 1100 at night on the A1 services in Doncaster. Arriving home just before midnight Ben was frozen to the core but so pleased to be back. It took almost 6 months of short rides before Ben would trust Mr T again.

When 2 wheels are just not enough!
Ben enjoying the farmers Quad

So as you can see Ben is doing a great job of becoming the next generation of British Biker. “Trinity” is now totally complete and we are showing her for the first this year at the Manchester Motorbike Show on the 23rd & 24th March 2013. It would be great to speak to you if you’re at the show.

"And here's one we built earlier!"
"Trinity" Ben's 21st Birthday Present

Ben still loves a challenge and this year 2013, he will be taking part in the annual RBLR1000 riding as pillion 1000 miles in less than 24 hours which is an official Iron Butt UK Saddle Sore 1000 (SS1000). On successfully completing the challenge Ben will be the “Youngest Pillion” ever to have completed an RBLR1000 in its 5 year history beating the current title holder by a massive 5 years. Ben will be 11 years old. Now that's something we will both be extremely proud of for years to come.

The RBLR1000 is all in aid of the Royal British Legion and if you so choose, please feel free to sponsor us at “The WanderingWalton’s RBLR1000 2013” Just Giving page.

Ben Mixing it with the Celebrities at the
Over-landers Meeting at the Ace cafe in 2012

I  really do hope this inspires you to just get out there with your youngsters and enjoy the world of Biking. Happy riding folk’s and if you ever see Ben & I out and about feel free to say hello, we don’t bite!

"It's all down hill from here Dad"

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