Fred Hill Memorial Run 2006

Just another Saturday?

It's Saturday morning, it's February, it's about 2C cold outside. The roads are mostly dry, but they're also white of salt. Despite this, I'm looking forward to the day. I'm looking forward to wheeling my bike out of the garage, subjecting it to the salt, and myself to the cold. I'm going to do about 80 miles, mainly going really slow on a very straight piece of road, and there's going to be policemen around. What's the fun in this, and why would you subject yourself to this when you could be at home watching Simpsons Season 7 DVDs..? Well, the reason is quite simple; It is the Fred Hill Memorial Run of 2006.

Who's Fred Hill?

Motorcyclists gathering at Chieveley Services for the Fred Hill Memorial Run 2006, Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

It's 3C in the air, the roads are salty, but still people are turning up, on all sorts of bikes.

I'm no expert in the Gentlemans history and biography, but this much I know; Fred Hill died in prison on the 10th of February in 1984 at the age of 74. He was at the time imprisoned because he refused to wear a crash helmet whilst riding his motorcycle. His passive campaign lead him into the prison a total of 31 times before the harsh prison life finally got the worst out of him. If you want to read more about Fred Hill, I suggest you read this article and search Google, for more information.
Whilst I'm a huge fan of bike safety, I'm also a believer in that humans should be educated enough to make their own decicions. It is completely up to myself if I elect to wear any sort of safety devices when I'm on my bike. I think I'm smart enough to think that I need to wear helmets and other protective gear, but fundamentally the decision should be mine to make, and not the law. To me it's far more dangerous to fail to indicate, speak on a mobile phone, feed your kids, or have a fit of road rage than not wearing appropriate safety gear. Whilst some laws are designed to protect ourselves from our stupidity, they actually don't encourage us to become smarter, in fact, they encourage us to become even more stupid; The law says wear a seat belt, it doesn't require us to know why we must wear it.
I personally would love to have the option of not wearing a helmet from time to time; There has been situations where I have ridden a big cruiser bike in the summer with no intention to ride in a risky manner what so ever; shouldn't it be my decision if I wanted to wear a helmet..?! Currently the law allows me to, completely legally, ride a bike in shorts on the motorway at 70mph, as long as I wear a helmet. Would I ride the motorway in shorts; No... Should I have the right to; Yes.
Just to be sure; I don't condone anyone to break the law, and I do strongly urge you to wear appropriate protective gear, whatever you're doing out there.
Back to Mr Hill; He was a man of principle, and he stuck by his guns till the end. To me, this is very remarkable, it's a very rare character amongst people today. I think that is worth getting out of bed for, and getting a wee bit cold too.

The Event

A bunch of friends start out at the local town square and we then ride to Chieveley Services where the M4 crosses the A34. At noon we all ride in a convoy from there to Pear Tree Services on the A34 to regroup before heading into Oxford Town Center. In Oxford we gather around to listen to a few words on why we are out on our bikes this day.

Chieveley Services

When you get to Chieveley Services you can't but amaze about the number of bikes that have turned up on this grey day. The second thing that strikes you is the diversity of the bikes that are there. Not only do you have the normal "MAG-Cruisers" there, but you have Harleys (yes, out in the salt!), BMW GS', Sportsbikes, Scooters, Super Motos, Custom Bikes, Trikes, Gold Wings, yes, pretty much all types of bikes are represented; Excellent!

The Convoy.

A long line of bikes forming the convoy on the A34., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

Motorbikes in convoy on the A34. There are bikes ars far as the eye can see, and several bikes have already passed. Image courtesy of Peter Smithson.

participants in the Fred Hill Memorial Run 06 regrouping at the Pear Tree Services Bike Park., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

A quick regropuing at the Pear Tree Services in Oxford.

This is the awesome part, and the section where you get to think about this whole thing. Riding in a convoy is not very easy, even if you're riding very slowly. It's very easy to be caught up in a concertina effect where you suddenly try to catch up with the guys in front and suddenly everyone brakes... Yikes. Best to keep a steady speed and be careful with the throttle. When you are out there on the road and you see bikes as far as you can see the road, you start to get a bit sentimental. All these people are here with you, and they've also dragged themselves out of the bed to be here. As far as you can see, there are bikes occupying one lane, and with police escort too. This means that other traffic, for once, have to give way to the, for once, slow riding bikes. I'm sure that this causes some of the drivers to curse, but surely it must make some of them think.
Think that there are actually people who don't always want to be trapped in a tin-can, people who have something to say, and people who want to stick to principles. People who try to show a bit of a back bone, for once.

Pear Tree Services

A slow ride later and we're at the Oxford Pear Tree Services. Time for you poor ones without heated grips to warm your hands, and for the quick ones to grab a coffee. The stop isn't very long, but long enough for you to warm up a bit, meet some friends, kicks some tyres, take some pictures; and of course, a bit of friendly banter. It is so nice to see, that despite the less than friendly weather, you see so many happy faces. People who mostly don't care what you do for a living or how much money you have in the bank, but people who enjoy living a life that isn't always the most comfortable one, or the most politically correct one. It's nice to be amongs friends (and lunatics).

Ride into Oxford

Again a ride in convoy, this time a bit shorter, but equally nice. Maybe even nicer, especially as the Police stop all other traffic that crosses our paths. Yes, that means that the convoy goes against red lights and in bus lanes if needed. People on the pavements stop and stare, old people point at the bikes they recognise. It's quite fun actually.

Bikes parked up in Oxford., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

All parked up in central Oxford.

Thanks!

First of all I want to thank MAG for organising this event. I couldn't be a**ed, so I respect your efforts very much. Things like this doesn't just fall into place, it takes great effort. I'd also like to thank everyone who attended - it's really nice to be part of this, and without your smiling faces and leisurely attitude, the Fred Hill Run wouldn't be what it is. I'd also like to extend a special thanks to Peter Smitson, who's a member of Windsor & District MAG, but more importantly, ventured out with the camera and sacrificed on-bike-time to take pictures. All pictures of the convoy are copyright by Peter Smithson. Thanks!