The Prescott Bike Festival took place on Sunday April 7 at Prescott Hill, Gotherington near Cheltenham. This is the home of the Bugatti Owners Club and is normally used for speed hill climbing around the very twisty, steep narrow track.
This is the third year that it has been used for the Prescott Bike Festival, an event put on by the Severn Freewheelers. It is a superb day out and all in the name of charity.
You may notice that more than a week has passed since the event took place: my excuse for my tardiness is that I was having trouble uploading pictures from my camera. The problem was solved by the purchase of a shiny new card reader, so I’m back in business.
Before I begin to wax lyrical about the event itself, it’s worth dwelling on the Severn Freewheelers.
They are a group of advanced motorcyclists who provide an out-of-hours courier service for hospitals in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, North Wiltshire and Herefordshire. They carry anything from blood to X-rays and patient notes between hospitals in the area between 7pm and 7am and all day at weekends. And they do it all for free.
They are more commonly known as ‘blood bikers’ – you may have seen them on the roads riding machines that look a bit like police bikes, but they wear day-glo jackets with “BLOOD” written on the back in large letters.
I find this concept staggering. I have friends who are blood bikers: they volunteer to do shifts on rota. They go to work in the day and then, when they get home, they sit by the phone for the call that gets them out to collect and deliver an unknown parcel. This can be at any time of the night and in all weathers. Then, often with little sleep, the next morning they go to work. If they didn’t do this, the deliveries would have to be made by taxi at great expense.
My friends love doing this: they get to ride around on (mostly) big BMWs and get the satisfaction of providing a valuable service. Nonetheless, it amazes me that such a service has to rely on volunteers and charity.
Anyway, enough of that: to the event.
The aim of the day is to “celebrate the diversity of 2 & 3 wheels”, so think motorcycles plus (mostly) Bugatti 3-wheelers and the odd sidecar. It is a bike show, with stands and stalls selling motorcycle-related products, there are food and drink stands and a live band. But this is all just a back-drop to the constant stream of vehicles ‘running the hill’.
The people braving their lives and reputation to ride at frightening speeds up that twisty track aren’t professional – or even necessarily committed amateur – hill climbers; no, they are just visitors to the show. As the marketing material say, it’s “A fantastic day out for all the family where YOU can be the star of the show!”
You have to book in advance to run the hill – it is reasonably priced and incredibly popular, always selling out well before the event. And the nutters brave souls who do it do so on everything from sports bikes to classic machines, there are Bugatti 3-wheelers, sidecars, people in fancy dress and small children on mini-motos. It is great fun.
I would like to have a go myself, but haven’t plucked up the courage yet – I’d prefer to do it when no-one was watching! Maybe I’ll be brave enough next year.
Meanwhile, here are pictures of some of the people who were brave enough. If you see a picture of yourself and want a copy let me know and I’ll send you a decent resolution copy.