East to West (eventually)

Roger Bibbings shares the story of an incredible fundraising road trip, ‘East to West Slowly’.

With minutes to spare, but still travelling at a steady 35–40mph, three motorcyclists on vintage two-stroke machines wound their way along the Pembrokeshire coast road to a rendezvous with the Mayor of St David’s.

Roger Bibbings_E2WS_2014 smaller This was the culmination of a two-day ride across Britain from Lowestoft to St Justinian’s lifeboat station at the most westerly tip of Wales to raise money for RoSPA’s Driveway Safety campaign.

At least 29 children have been killed on, or near, the driveways of their homes since 2001. Sadly, in most cases, an adult member of the child’s family, a neighbour or a visitor was driving the vehicle. The campaign raises awareness of simple measures that drivers can take to prevent such tragedies.

Building on the similar ‘End to End Slowly’ trip last year from Land’s End to John O’Groats, the ride was held on June 21 (the longest day) and 22.

It attracted six riders, although in the end only three, journalist Peter Henshaw, MZ spares guru Phil Speakman and myself, the organiser, made it to meet the mayor, Councillor David Halse, who came in a wartime BSA sidecar driven by fellow councillor Malcolm Gray. Councillor Halse kindly presented a cheque of £50 on behalf of St David’s City Council.

Participants were on small vintage motorcycles. The party included two early 1970s East German MZ 250s, two MZRoger Bibbings 4_E2WS_2014 smaller 150s and a late 1960s LE Velocette ridden by retired university lecturer and motoring writer, John Bradshaw. Ian McGregor, who was recovering from a recent heart operation, decided to follow in his camper van.

The idea behind making the ride a ‘slow’ challenge was to savour the pleasure that is to be had from travelling slowly on two wheels using minor roads as much as possible. You see, smell and remember so much more.

And the route offered a fascinating series of vistas, from the flatlands of the Fens to the high sandstone peaks of South Wales.

Unfortunately, Phillip Thwaites had to withdraw after his MZ 150 developed main bearing trouble. Gallantly, though, he limped home and got out his BMW 850 GS to meet the finishers in St David’s. But his was not to be the only mechanical drama…

You can find out about the ride itself next week. In the meantime, you can still donate to the campaign here.

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