This is a genuinely “feel good” event. If, like me, your Christmas spirit begins to flag by around mid October, when you’re heartily sick of being force-fed images of Dickensian cheer in order to flog you the stuff the shops haven’t been able to off-load all Summer, this run is guaranteed to restore your faith -in your fellow man at least.
Organised by the Christian Motorcyclists Association, it’s been running for more years than I can remember, always meeting in the carpark of the old Shire Hall building, overlooking junction 11 of the M4 at Reading, Berks on a Sunday morning in early December,
before slowly winding it’s way out to the Dr Barnados childrens home in nearby Wokingham, The Christmas ’04 run was particularly well supported. Arriving half an hour before the departure time, I found the Winter chill certainly hadn’t put anyone off attending. I had trouble finding a spot to squeeze the Speed Triple into, ending up alongside the Oxford RATs Triumph Owners group. I almost felt out of place in my leathers as the carpark was bursting with a sea of scarlet Santa suits. What IS the collective noun for a bunch of Santas? A jingle perhaps? Everybody makes the effort to dress for the occasion & bikes & trikes arrive festooned with tinsel, baubles & even Christmas lights. A woman strolls past me dressed as a Christmas tree, I spot an ageing elf deep in discussion with one of the Santi, comparing costumes & debating which shop sold the best outfits. I’m beginning to wish my beard was a little greyer so I’d blend in. Everybody is asked to bring along a new, unwrapped toy or gift & there seem to be an awful lot of teddy bears riding pillion. The Wokingham home have learnt over the years that they can’t possibly cope with the volume of donations they receive from this run -there must be nearly a thousand bikes queuing up, impatient for the off, so they distribute the rest to other homes across the South of England in time for Christmas. Though not specifically asked to, many give cash donations too. We ARE a damn fine bunch of people aren’t we!

A quick welcome over the tannoy & we’re off, marshals & Police outriders stopping traffic at road junctions to allow our noisy motorcade to sweep by unhindered. Bemused car drivers staring at us over their steering wheels in disbelief. I’m told it takes over half an hour for all the bikes to pass by. There’s something quite exciting about riding in a huge group like this, but rather than rampaging bikers riding into town to terrorise the locals, we come bearing gifts & the householders along the route respond by lining the pavements to wave at these strange cotton wool bearded folk as we roar past. Even the Mayor of Reading has come along for the ride, complete with Mayoral chain over his Santa suit, on the back of a trike. Obviously this is great P.R for biking in general but there’s nothing cynical about it, simply some very nice people banding together to bring a little happiness to the kids.
All too soon we arrive at the children’s home, more bikes having tagged along on the way. Finding somewhere to park in the grounds isn’t easy with machines filling every available corner. A queue quickly forms as riders take their turn to hand in their contributions at the school’s main hall. Free tea & biscuits are handed out & everyone agrees this year’s run is the best attended yet. The CMA lay on a party with live music in the evening though I’ve never stayed that long. I just find this run gives me that much needed boost of Christmas cheer & helps me get through the rigours of the season.
Well that’s my festive bit done for another year. See you all again next Christmas.
Ho ho ho.