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Intro by Wendy, pictures supplied by Ruth and Tango, Unwanted MCC.
The 29th run, and back to the 'Heart of England Rally' this year. Last year this historic run was moved away from the rally, and its end of June/beginning of July slot, to a Saturday in August. This move was not a success, for whatever reason (and I have heard several put forward), so once again this year rallygoers gathered on their bikes at the entrance to the site at Stoke Prior before noon on Saturday. Their numbers were swelled by local riders, who joined the group and the marshals for the journey into town. They were travelling first to a pub carpark in Rednal, to meet up with a large contingent from Yorkshire before heading en masse for Centenary Square in the heart of Birmingham.
I cannot comment on the run, as I was back at the control tent waiting to welcome them back and sign in new campers (hi de hi!), but Scott has posted an account on his own web page (link from the MAG members' forum) and I will happily post details any other riders can supply. I do know that I have not heard any negative comments from anyone who took part (apart from the fact that it was rather too warm, and I'm afraid the organisers have not yet learned how to control the weather). Look on the bright side - there were no flash floods, and no bikes or riders (or marshals) got washed away!
Next year is the big one - the thirtieth annual run! Is it possible it could be better than this year? In the meantime, enjoy the pictures below - just a small selection from those kindly forwarded by Ruth and Tango. Our thanks to them.
Well, I appealed for reports from riders who went on the run - and comments on the rally from others who went to it, and Vic has found the time to put some words together for us. It adds substance to the pictures and I enjoyed reading it.
Brum Demo & Heart of England 2006
Well it's that time of year again, when the annual demo run takes place and the Heart of England brings comfort and solace (not to mention alcohol and music) to the people of the Midlands and beyond. This year MAG decided to back the demo run and make it a National one to protest against the new European proposals for bike licences. This brought its own stress and worry to the organisers, as it was very short notice. Fortunately the hard work in the background paid off and apparently a thousand people turned up at the start place outside the old Longbridge plant. It was great to see all these bikes and riders from all over the country. Apathy is a strong and rife disease in all sections of society, and if it takes hold it could spell the death knell for this life I, and so many others, love.
The weather was glorious, with many a sunburned face at the end of the day. In fact it was too hot, with people struggling to cope with all their leathers and biking gear on. Surprisingly no-one had any problems though (I didn't hear of any anyway) and everyone was encouraged to drink plenty of fluids (water though, until after the run at least).
There was a wide cross section of the biking community on view, from sports bikes to cruisers, scooters and mopeds to trikes and giant mega-engined beasties. It was good to see everyone getting on so well and the atmosphere was very laid back and relaxed.
The Police were very kind to us this year, providing an escort and helping to keep everyone together. This backed up the marshals who volunteered from all over the country to help out as we didn't have enough from our own area. Big thanks go out to the West Mids traffic guys for their help on the day, and with the planning. Also big thanks to everyone who volunteered to marshal, you did a great job.
Once everyone was sorted out the procession set off for Birmingham centre. The Police managed to keep up a pace without being too quick, and plenty of people turned out to watch all the bikes head through the towns. It seemed to go down very well with the locals, who were waving and pointing, although, as usual, there were a couple of 'plonkas' in cars, but the police and marshals soon sorted them out. I was having my own problems with Mutchy determined to cause me grief and keep stopping to take pictures in front of me. It was a great sight to see, nothing but bikes and trikes stretched out in both directions. Of course traffic chaos was brought to Birmingham as all these bikes weaved their way around the streets. With what seemed like miles of bikes trying to fit down the A38, needless to say we made an impression.
The destination was the car park at Centenary Square in the heart of Birmingham. The local council have decided that bikes are not allowed on the square itself (although cars, buses and even coaches are!!) Having so many bikes and trikes it was decided to close the car park off to the MAG demo (which was a major headache in itself) and so we had plenty of space for everyone. Once suitably refreshed and cooled everyone made their way into City Gardens to hear the guest speakers. MAG President Mutchy was as effervescent as usual and MAG's Director of Public Affairs, Trevor Baird, made a few relevant points.
We were also glad to have with us West Midlands MEP Mr Philip Bradbourn OBE, who supports MAG's stance on the directive. Mr Bradbourn's support is particularly significant as he sits on the EU Committee for Transport and Tourism and has been gathering support from other MEPs for the withdrawal of the motorcycling part of the licensing directive. After the speeches most people took advantage of the lovely weather to spend a while relaxing in the park, with a local ice cream van thinking all his Christmas' had come at once.
After a while, those that were staying at the Heart of England had a smaller procession back there and everyone else wandered off to do their own thing.
Someone once said to me that protesting against EU, or Government, proposals is a waste of time and never gets anywhere. Well I beg to differ. You only have to look at MAG's past to see that a difference can be made, and when you see as many people as this turn up to make their feelings known, you just have to believe that we can make a difference and preserve our way of life.
I followed the rest of the Heart of England riders back to camp. Unfortunately, due to health problems (I'd just come out of hospital) I wasn't able to stop for the whole weekend at the Heart of England, but I did pop in to see how things were going after the Demo run.
With MAG tagging the national title to the demo, we had a better turn out for the rally. This was a double edged sword as we were down on volunteers compared to previous years, so those that did work had to do so doubly hard. It also meant that certain things had to be left undone, or unmanned. However, this didn't seem to be damping down peoples enjoyment, and the heat of the day was certainly sapping most people of any energy they had left. Most people either collapsed at, or in, their tents, or went to refresh themselves at the bar, which was also showing the England match in the World Cup. My search for water was rewarded and, after stripping of my biking gear, I dumped a bucket full of lovely cool, refreshing water over my head, bliss! I managed to catch up with some old friends and have a chat with some new ones. Although I couldn't stay to hear the bands and later entertainment, I heard that they went down very well. As well as copious amounts of liquid to recover from the sun scorched revelling.
My health began to fade at this point so I decided that a quick withdrawal to the sanctuary of my home was needed. I do hope that this is the start of a new phase in the Heart of England's history, as well as the Demo. Next year is the 30th year in which the Demo has been run so I hope we can put on a special event to commemorate the UK's oldest continual demonstration run. For those who have never attended before, mark it off in your diary now, it should be a good one.
Long live the Brum Demo and Heart of England.
West Midlands MAG
Thanks, Vic, for taking the time to put this report together, amongst all your other commitments for MAG and NABD. Nice one.