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Sunday morning. 11.00am
“Andy, I’ve got a problem. The trike won’t start”.
“O.K, give me half an hour & I’ll come over in the van”.
“I’ve narrowed it down to the carb, There’s no fuel getting through”.
“Alright, I’ll jump in the van, collect my carb from my garage & see you in 10 minutes”.
“Nige, I’ve got a problem. The van won’t start”.
“O.K, I’ll come over in my car, pick you up, collect the carb from your garage & go back to my place“.
Our leisurely ride over to Reading for the annual toy run to the Wokingham Dr Barnados home didn’t go quite as smoothly as we’d hoped. Flap & Nige were first time toy runners & were taking their trikes along. I was hitching a lift with Nige -if we could get his damn trike running. Normally it’s the boringly reliable one of the two. But not today.
Having collected the carb from my own trike rebuild project, we set to with the spanners, & within ten minutes had the old one stripped off & the new one hooked up. Petrol, choke, turn the key…success! It burst into life & after a few minutes’ fine tuning was running quite acceptably. Flap arrived & off we went.
The run was due to start at 2pm & time was ticking away, but a quick blatt up the A33, with only one lightning pitstop to fix Flap’s recurring sticky front brake, & we made it to the meeting point with half an hour to spare.
The Wokingham toy run’s in it’s 21st year now & still going from strength to strength. This year saw over two & a half thousand bikes & trikes of every conceivable type gather in the carpark of the Foster Wheeler building, just off junction 11 of the M4.The furthest travelled has come all the way from Ireland to ride with us. The idea’s simple. Everybody brings along a new, unwrapped toy, suitable for a child up to 16 years old, & we ride in convoy the 15 or so miles from Reading to the Dr Barnados High Close School in Wokingham. There the toys are donated & volunteers supply us with hot drinks & biscuits, speeches are made, then we all go home. It’s grown into more than just that though. For many, this is the last social event of the biking season; a chance for one last ride out before the Winter weather closes in & a good excuse to have some fun & do your bit for a very worthy cause at the same time. Fancy dress is fast becoming de rigour, with dozens of biking Santas, Christmas fairies, elves, snowmen & even a pair of penguins this year. Bikes are decorated with tinsel & baubles or strung with fairy lights & everyone enters into the spirit of the thing with great gusto.
The Reading Christian Motorcycle club originally organised the whole event. They’ve since disbanded, but several ex members now run it with assistance from other local clubs. Wokingham Police, aided by yellow jacketed volunteer marshals, close off road junctions along our route to allow us to sweep through unhindered, like some invading motorised Lapland army. Far from grumbling at this inconvenience, the motorists we pass toot & wave as we rumble by & the streets are lined with cheering on-lookers.
This is a great get-together, guaranteed to cheer up the hum-buggiest among us. Even the drenching we got on the way home, crawling along in the dark with none of us wearing any waterproofs & all in dark glasses, could spoil the day. I’m already looking forward to next year’s.