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.
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.
“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.
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!”