What possesses a man to look at a supermarket trolley and think “you know what that needs? A jet engine!”?
Or to look at the monstrous 8 Litre V10 Viper engine and think “that would be great in a motorcycle”?
Or to look at a motorcycle and think “that’s pretty good, but it’s got too many wheels – one is enough!”?
This combination of eccentricity and engineering genius seems to be deeply ingrained in the British psyche.
I don’t know why that is, but it probably explains why the Industrial Revolution started here, and why so many world-changing inventions originated from this small nation.
And I am pleased to say that it is alive and well and was on full display this weekend at the annual Prescott Bike Festival.
The Prescott Bike Festival takes place at Prescott Hill Climb near Gothrington in the Cotswolds.
I go to the event – and write about it – every year, but it is for such a worthy cause that it bears repeating.
It is organised by Severn Freewheelers, the local Blood Bike Group. Its aim is to raise awareness of, and funds for, the Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes.
The Blood Bike service is a charitable organisation run entirely by volunteers. Blood bikers give up their own time to provide an out of hours service to deliver vital supplies for the NHS, saving them a not-so-small fortune every year.
The event includes a number of trade stands, food stands and live music, but the main attraction for the day is a steady stream of people ‘running the hill’. For a fee, numerous brave and/ or crazy people bring their own machines and run them up the famous, twisty, Prescott Hill Climb hill.
They say the sun shines on the righteous, and if that is the case you can’t get more righteous than the Severn Freewheelers: the sun was in far more evidence than anyone has a right to expect in April, with temperatures reaching 20 degrees. Beautiful.
This year also provided the extra interest that two friends decided to brave the hill: as usual I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and bravely chickened out.
The event always brings out a wide range of different vehicles to run the hill. You are free to walk around the paddock and watch the riders line up for their run on everything from top-end sports bikes to old classic machines; from scramblers to customs; and from mini motos to Morgan three wheelers.
But it is always the eccentric stuff that draws the most attention.
This year Allen Millyard once again brought along a selection of his brilliantly mad engineering creations: alongside the Viper he had the Flying Millyard, a 5 litre V-Twin made from two cylinders from a Pratt and Whitney 1340 aircraft engine; a V-Twin SS100 built from two SS50 engines; plus a number of other bikes with more cylinders than they were designed to have!
Alongside the jet powered shopping trolley there was a jet powered hearse, brilliantly named Dead Quick.
The monowheels were back, although having discovered last year that it is not easy to descend the hill with no brakes they seemed to take the easy way out and only run half the course.
And there was a mobility scooter with some serious engine modification that meant it would get you to the shops quicker than the average mobility scooter.
All mad and brilliant in equal measure.
And all in a very good cause.
Roll on next year!