Sunday, 1 September 2013

Loud pipes and hairiness

Bank holiday Monday saw the 25th Fenman Classic bike show take place at Wimbotsham, just north of Downham Market, and what an event it was. The popularity of the Fenman, which was originally started by a few bikers in the local pub, has escalated considerably. From the first show which had about fifty bikes in the pub car park to recent years when it looks as though an entire container ship's worth of motorcycles has been dropped on this little Norfolk village, the Fenman has grown into an essential event for the motorcycle enthusiast's diary.
The show itself is held on the primary school grounds, with classic bikes of all kinds lined up on the playground, and the sports field filled with assorted trade stands.
But oddly enough it's not the show itself that seems to be the biggest draw. In fact there's just as much entertainment to be had wandering around looking at the bikes people have turned up on - literally thousands of them. The show is as much a biker's social event as it is a chance to look at machines of a bygone era while munching on a hotdog.
The thing that struck me most about it all though, was the incredible variety of people who were there. To this day there are still people out there who upon hearing the word 'biker' automatically get a picture in their head of something like this:
But motorcyclists come from all sorts of backgrounds and the assumption that the gentleman pictured above is someone you wouldn't want to meet is usually wrong. I've met bikers of this variety and they've been really good guys. Indeed you're just as likely to encounter an arsehole riding a brand new GSXR1000 in matching one-piece leathers as you are if he's on an old Harley sporting a denim vest and many tattoos. As Depeche Mode said - 'people are people'.
Even considering this, the assortment of people was astounding which just goes to show that motorcyclists cover practically every social group in the country. No rules or boundaries, just people who love to ride.
The Fenman is a great day out. This is the second time I've been - last year I took the boy, and this year was the wife's turn. I ended up with instructions to purchase a hornier exhaust for the Bandit (by which I think she means louder), and to grow a beard ready for next year's event.
I can deal with the exhaust easily enough, but I'm curious to see how long the beard gets before she decides it's not what she wants after all and I have to take it off. Of course it might be me that gets fed up first when bits of food keep getting lodged in it. Whatever.

The next bike event will be Motorcycle Live in Birmingham in November. Acres of shiny new machinery carefully draped with lycra-clad hotties, endless trade stands to pick up end-of-year bargains, loads of side shows and displays, and of course the mandatory four mile queue for a burger.
But whereas previous attendances of this show have resulted in bouts of depression fuelled by dreams shattered by an empty bank account, this year will be a genuine search for a moped for the boy, additional protective clothing for the other half, and possibly that loud exhaust for the Beast.

In the meantime, with my continual search for a hobby proving fruitless so far, I've given in to the boredom, extracted the XBox from the back of the cupboard, and yesterday managed to waste several hours playing the newly acquired 'Bioshock Infinite', realising that perhaps it wasn't video games I'd got bored of, but just the repetitive playing of the same old games for the past couple of years.
Oh well, we live and learn, eh?