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mattjware

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Colombian bikers gearing up for UK tour

The Colombians are coming – and it’s largely thanks to Bikesure, and the dedication of two bikers who have formed an Anglo-South American alliance to tour Britain on custom Yamahas.

The tour, which gets under way on May 30 for two weeks, will see 15 Colombian members of the Yamaha Custom Club travel to England to team up with like-minded bikers from the UK and across Europe.

But, as organiser Trevor Bridgwood explains, the tour nearly didn’t happen until an 18-month search for insurance finally bore fruit when Bikesure’s Mat Marr pulled out all the stops to put a deal in place.

“Getting insurance was extremely difficult,” he said. “ It took me about 18 months, until I bumped into Mat on the Yorkshire Pudding Rally.

“Matt was very good – they spoke to several underwriters before one agreed. We were chuffed to bits, because I’d said right from the start that I wouldn’t start to organise anything until we’d sorted the insurance. “It was the biggest hurdle, a real headache. I had phoned round a lot of brokers but no-one had been able to do it.”

The cross-continental link was forged when Colombian rider Carlos Arroyave took part in the 2009 Yamaha Custom Club (YCC) tour of Belgium.

“Carlos had such a good time that when he went back to Colombia he invited all the European clubs over for a tour in his home country. We took 14 from the UK,” said Trevor.

Riders in Colombia on the tour of 2009

Riders on tour in Colombia

Carlos, a retired army Sergeant Major, said: “Because of Colombia’s bad international reputation I was concerned that many would be afraid to travel.

“In the end over 50 were very courageous and decided to take a flight and discovered the truth. The first Colombian Rally in 2010 was a great success.”

Further trips were arranged for 2012 and 2014, before it was the UK’s turn to host the annual European rally for the YCC.

“This year it’s our turn, so we’ve invited the Colombians over for two weeks, found bikes for them to ride, sorted hotels and organised a route around the UK,” said Trevor, who took up riding after using his army resettlement grant to take a direct access motorcycle course.

The route the bikers will take

The route the bikers will take

“Some great friendships were born on our trips to Colombia and, having enjoyed their hospitality on our visits, we felt it only right that we should try and offer a similar opportunity to our guests.

“It all seemed to be coming up against a brick wall until I met Mat.”

Bikesure team manager Mat said putting the cover in place with underwriters Markerstudy had been a long process.

“It’s been a lot of work, but we always look to try and do something a bit different for people if we can and, after Trevor explained the situation and his difficulties at the show, I made it a bit of a personal mission to get it sorted for him,” he said.

“We sell ourselves as a specialist company and I’m quite passionate about proving we can help people out with unusual requests.

“I really wanted to help him out because without the insurance there’d have been no tour and very few insurers will quote on an international licence for short period cover.

“We spend a lot of time making sure we’ve got good relationships with underwriters, and that certainly helps in situations like this. Trevor was really chuffed, and I’m really pleased we could help him.”

Final preparations are underway for the tour, as more than 50 riders joined by a common passion prepare to show off their homeland to bikers from across the globe.

Bikers snaking through the mountains in Colombia

Bikers snaking through the mountains in Colombia

Carlos, who has already taken part in tours in Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, is looking forward to his first taste of England.

“I appreciate the friendship and camaraderie that exists between different cultures, with one passion in common. My motto is ‘My home is your home’,” he said.

Trevor paid tribute to the British riders who have found 15 bikes for the visitors’ to ride: “This all shows another of the reasons that bikers are passionate about their hobby – you can always rely on the support of a fellow biker.

“Bikes encourage people to share their experiences and socialise with people. Biking has taken me and my family all around the country and the world. It has enabled us to meet loads of people with a shared interest and a common bond. Above all though, it’s bloody good fun!”

Disabled petrolheads make epic John O Groats to Lands End journey

Petrolheads Dave Burdus and Carl Brunning have made history by becoming the first pair to ride from John O’Groats to Lands End on high-performance…wheelchairs.

The intrepid duo, both paralysed following separate accidents more than 30 years ago, completed the 2,200-mile road trip in 10 days aboard specially adapted wheelchair trikes capable of hitting 125mph.

The weather wasn't always kind...

The weather wasn’t always kind…

Bikesure backed the pair’s bid with free motorcycle insurance for the trip, which aimed to raise awareness of the government’s Disability Confident campaign and raise funds for the Percy Hedley Foundation’s Splash Appeal – a £1m appeal for a hydrotherapy pool for disabled children.

On September 1, the pair set off from Newcastle’s Quayside on their Mad Max-style, 1150cc three-wheelers – with BMW R1150R front ends and modified rears – to prove that anything able-bodied motorcyclists could do, so could they.

Time to get going

Time to get going

The John O’Groats to Lands End section itself took six days, starting on September 4, calling in at Inverness, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Hull and London along the way before arriving at Land’s End on September 9 to a glorious Cornish sunset.

Scottish-Border

And during the epic journey, Dave and Carl found time to stop off at Number 10 Downing Street to meet with Minister of State for Disabled People Mark Harper.

“We were able to give Mark an update on our journey,” said Dave, “and use his status at the famous Downing Street to raise the profile of the disability confident campaign.”

Mr Harper said: “They are sending a very positive message to employers that they should give disabled people an opportunity to go and work in their businesses. I think they are a very good example of people who, when they put their minds to it, there is nothing they cannot do.”

Meeting with Mark Harper

Meeting with Mark Harper

“The Downing Street stop off certainly grabbed attention,” said Carl, “which allows us to push out our message to employers that disabled people are skilled and motivated, and with the right equipment and support are equally dependable and capable as non-disabled employees.”

Dave added: “Our disability confident road trip is a perfect example of disabled people’s potential. And our planning, determination and staying power is readily transferable to the workplace.”

The two adventurers struck up a friendship when they were left paralysed through spinal injuries and found themselves in neighbouring beds in Hexham Spinal Injuries Unit in 1983.

Carl, 50, fell 150ft when mountaineering with two friends in the Lake District and Dave, 53, had a motorcycle crash at Spennymoor.

Carl said: “When we talked about doing it in hospital it was just a pipe dream – but now our plans have come to fruition.”

We made it!

We made it!

Time for reflection...

Time for reflection…

...and time to sleep.

…and time to sleep.

The trikes have built-in electric tail ramps and locking mechanisms for securely fastening the wheelchairs in place, while the gear change is made by pressing a button with the thumb on the left hand.

“The trikes are a bit Batmen meets Judge Dredd,” said David. “When we approach, all heads turn. People are totally impressed and most don’t suspect that we are driving from wheelchairs until we drop out of the back or drive past. You can see it really challenges pre-conceptions of disability. All the questions are about the trikes and none about our impairment or wheelchairs, which is very refreshing.”

Carl added: “At the end of the day people are recognising what we are doing isn’t superhuman, it’s just everyday normal! We are just two guys doing what we love – riding motorbikes!”

Bikesure can provide competitive insurance for all sorts of motorcycle and trike, whether standard or adapted for disabled riders.

Huge crash leaves Fincham battered but unbowed

King’s Lynn racer Mark Fincham walked away from a horrific 120mph crash at Donnington Park at the weekend and vowed: “I can’t wait for the next meeting.”

Riding his fully rebuilt main bike for the first time this year, Mark – sponsored by East Winch-based Bikesure – was looking forward to a successful weekend in the MRO Clubman series after qualifying in second place.

The fearless racer, who lost a leg in a motorcycling accident in 2007, was fighting for second place in the opening race when front brake problems ended his challenge.

“I took the inside line to pass the guy in front and the brake grabbed on the disc and tucked the front and my race was over,” he said.

“I was absolutely furious as I knew I wasn’t pushing for pace and could’ve ridden much faster.”

After stripping, cleaning and rebuilding the front brake overnight, Mark started near the back of the grid after failing to complete the first race, but was soon on the charge.

Smashing his best ever time at the track by two seconds, Mark finished second in class, earning the Rider of the Day award and setting himself up for the final race.

Starting just off the front row, Mark made a great start and was closing in on the leader when disaster struck.

The moment when Mark and his bike parted company at 120mph

The moment when Mark and his bike parted company at 120mph

“I was working out where I wanted to pass when, on the approach to the very last corner of the lap, my front brake failed totally,” he said.

At 120mph and with a hairpin bend approaching fast, Mark had to think quickly.

“There was no way I could get round. I saw the tyre wall coming up fast and instantly knew I had to avoid it as an impact at that speed would’ve killed me,” added Mark.

“I ran the bike into the gravel and had a full on 120mph crash. After being thrown from the bike and tumbling over and over I came to a stop. The race was cancelled so the medics could clear me up and take me to the medical centre. Fortunately I had nothing broken, just lots of bruising and pain.

“But I can’t wait for the next meeting at Cadwell Park, my favourite track.”

The bike, needless to say, is in line for another rebuild…

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