We’ve been to the sea-side today. And jolly nice it was too.
Having got well & truly soaked at the NABD rally in Oxford on Saturday, Rainbow had just about dried out in time to join me for a bimble down to Brighton this morning. The “Brighton Burn Up” is one of the many annual events organised by the Ace Café in London. Unfortunately we weren’t as organised as they were & overslept, missing the mass ride-out from the café on the North Circular. No problem; we hopped on my shiny new CB 1000 & cut across country, taking a leisurely spin Southwards, down through Farnham, along the scenic Hog’s Back road to Guildford & onto the A281 past Horsham to the coast. A nice ride & our first chance to try out the new bike. I sold my beloved Triumph last week because it was just too tempting to ride it fast & hard everywhere I went & was inevitably going to lead to a long term ban & a million points on my licence. Something smaller & more sensible was in order, so I bought a thousand cc Honda instead! It IS more sensible though. The big Jap four is a much more laid back touring machine. A motorcyclist’s mount, rather than the Triumph’s hooligan racer. It effortlessly carried us on the hour & a half journey to Sussex.
Good job the trike’s not yet on the road. We were greeted by automotive chaos when we reached the outskirts of Brighton. Looked like the whole world had decided to go to the coast for the day; queues of stationary cars stretching some 7 or 8 miles along the dual carriageway heading into town. No problem. We joined the long lines of bikes, slipping in single file down between the cars, slowly making our way towards the sea front. The closer we got, the more bikes appeared, pouring in from every direction. Obviously they hadn’t all started out from London. The final destination of Brighton’s Madeira Drive has become an event in it’s own right with the majority of riders making their own way straight there as we had. Bikes, bikes & more bikes, swarming through the snarled up city streets, filling bus lanes, weaving around over-heating cars full of over-heating holiday makers, a sea of crash helmets & leathers in every direction. I've since read on the 'net that there were 80,000 bikers there that day.
It was obvious we were never going to get as far as the esplanade itself so we opted to park up on a pavement already packed with bikes & walk the last half mile, grabbing a coffee along the way. The sea front was positively heaving with people when we got there, the town’s normal holiday-making population swelled by literally thousands of visiting riders. Bikes filled every parking space, every side street & every pavement. Hordes of old time rockers, swarms of scooter riders, massed ranks of sports bikes, tourers, chops, trikes. You name it, it was there. I was surprised to find a lot of the traditional Brit bikes displaying German number plates. Even saw a Hesketh bearing an Isle of Man registration.
The Ace café ride-out had been led by the Teutal family, stars of the Discovery Channel’s “American Chopper” series. Didn’t see any sign of them but did bump into our own superstar Mr Yoda, & Mrs Yoda, busy photographing anything that moved. So much to see, so many bikes to drool over, so many weird & wonderful characters parading along the promenade. This has become a huge event. Madeira Drive is closed for the day & designated Motorcycles Only. Helmet parks & trade stalls are set up, owners’ clubs & bike shops display their machines, riders come to see & be seen. We came, we saw, we had fish & chips for lunch. We stayed until tea-time, when Rainbow finally managed to drag me away from taking one last photo to climb back aboard our own machine & head homewards.
A thoroughly enjoyable jaunt & yet another to add to the ever-growing list of Must-Do trips for next year.