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Hawes And Bob's Memorial

Ride date 1-3 October 2016

By Ren Withnell 

Bikes And Banter

I was supposed to be working this weekend. The super urgent job that really needed to be done 3 days before yesterday and required my precious weekend turns out to be not quite as important as it seems. Customers...pfffft! Not to worry my friend Mr Latchford has invited Sharon and I to go camping. Well it'd be a shame to waste the weekend wouldn't it?

A group of motorcycles and tents on a field in the countrysideMotorcycles and tents. Be rude not to.

Sharon's been working this morning so I arrive at hers after lunchtime. The weather is wet and the forecast is rain for the rest of the day followed by a cold night, I'm half expecting to find Sharon in her PJs rather than her bike gear. And yet while not exactly organised and ready to go she's in her thermals and there's some camping gear floating around. I'm not sure if I'm proud of how tough she can be or saddened by our stupidity as the damp rain turns from heavy to deluge. 

As we leave Halewood it is siling down. Big fat raindrops rattle our helmets and rivers are forming where once were roads. Experience tells me it won't rain THIS heavily for long however this kind of rain is the kind of rain that washes away tents and motorcycles on poorly drained campsites. Hopefully the forecast is correct and this evening dries out. Of course if it does dry out the temperature will drop causing wet tents, bikes and boots to freeze solid. Urgh.

Then lo-and-behold! Warrington sees the rain easing, Preston brings dry roads with cloudy skies and Lancaster teases with patches of blue. It is a curious thing British weather, not to be trusted for either good or bad. By the time we're on the A-roads towards Ingleton we're able to carve some corners. It feels great, all the more so because it is unexpected. I notice Sharon's doing a fair job on her 250, I need to hold the throttle a little longer and carry more corner speed. 

Sharon waves at the camera from her bike in a beautiful countryside settingHey! Woman! You're supposed to be way behind not right behind. Pfffft.

The Bainbridge Ings campsite is as I remember it when we were last here. Latchy and his compatriots are camped at the top of the gently sloping field which makes sense, it's been wet here earlier today and water tends to run downhill in case you don't know. As we pitch tent Sharon and I re-adjust our sense of humour to accommodate CK, Latchy's friend, who's banter is rude, crude, laddish, loutish and at all times brutally funny. How does he manage to be so vulgar without being in bad taste?

Our evening is spent dining and drinking with the boys in Hawes. Between the jokes and the mocking there's easy talk with the four chaps about the usual things like bikes, work, partners and holidays. I guess I've enjoyed myself as it doesn't feel long before I'm wriggling into my sleeping bag. It's dry and it's not as cold as the weatherman said it would be - thankfully.

The stone shops and pubs in Hawes town centre with Stephen looking into a shop window
Hawes is a busy little town this Saturday evening.

Breakfast And Bikes

This morning I'm pleased to report I've slept pretty well except for the obligatory midnight struggle to extricate myself from the sleeping bag, battle with the tent and fight with my clothes to carry out the simple task of urinating. One day I'm going to invent a sleeping bag with a potty in it and I shall be a millionaire. There's talk of a cooked breakfast in Hawes and that's enough to galvanise Sharon into action. 

Above the Spar convenience store is The Wensleydale Pantry. I'm expecting a small cramped greasy spoon instead we find a large clean and well appointed room which is agreeable and comfy. Breakfast is tasty although CK's poached eggs on toast aren't really up to scratch. A walk back to the site aids digestion and soon we're all packed and ready to roll. We bid the boys farewell and wish CK many happy returns for it's his birthday today. He claims he's 38, then 27 then 33 then 17, there's no such thing as a straight answer from CK. Apparently he's 48, maybe 49. Who knows.

Sharon strikes a cute pose on a bench surrounded by flowers in HawesSharon is practicing for her forthcoming "Lady Biker" calendar.

We decide to not ride back with the lads. Instead we'll take our own sweet time and do a little sightseeing as is our way and I suspect the boys' favoured pace will be greater than ours. Sharon and I like to slow right down when the scenery demands it and there's no traffic for us to hold up. We often times find ourselves down empty country lanes doing 20, maybe 25 mph, stopping to briefly discuss a farm or hillside. Today is no exception and the sun is shining which makes it all the more cordial.

We go to West Burton and along a narrow track. I'm trying to find the farm where as a child my family and I would often visit and stop in an old caravan. I'm not sure if this is the place. The stream that my brother and I used to play in could be that one, that farmhouse could be the where I used to get "fresh out of the cow" milk and that little bridge looks familiar. The years have faded my memories and while it could be, I can't be certain.  

The picturesque stone cottages and village green of West BurtonAh West Burton, so many (vague) memories. 

Buckden brings a cafe which means it's brew time. The road to Grassington sees us stuck behind the world's slowest driver on a twisty road with no chance to overtake. The A59 gives us the space to open the bikes up a little. The M65 just gets us back to my house swiftly. Considering I was expecting to be soaked to the skin then frozen to the core it's been a most excellent weekend. And it's not over yet.

Sharon is on her bike seen through the mirror of Ren's motorcycleShe's still following me...I think I'm being stalked.

Bob's Memorial

Bob "Drac" Allaway died on October the 3rd 2015 at the age of 46. He was killed while riding his 125cc motorcycle by a driver who failed to navigate a corner because he was drunk. 

It's not like Bob and I were best mates, we only met a handful of times but he certainly stood out from the rest of the crowd. Bob was one of those crazy characters who delighted in dressing in pink tutus for charity motorcycle rides, climbing into barrels of frozen water for a laugh and giving everyone he met a big warm man hug. My eyes still haven't recovered from seeing him wash motorcycles for charity while wearing a mankini. I'll share that with you....hehe!

Bob in a bright green skimpy mankini washing a motorcycleOh my eyes! Would you? Even for charity?

Today is Monday October the 3rd 2016, 1 year on from Bob's sickeningly unnecessary demise. Today his widow Lorraine has organised a small memorial. Sharon didn't get to attend Bob's funeral because she was actually taking her motorcycle test that day. This time she will get her chance to pay her respects.

We enjoy a great ride in fine weather up to Devil's Bridge near Kirkby Lonsdale. Here we find Lorraine and plenty of both familiar and unfamiliar faces. There's no formal service, no stuffy nonsense just a bunch of regular folks and bikers gathering and chatting. We walk across the grass to a hidden corner where we all place a handful of Bob's ashes into a small hole in the earth then a young tree is planted above. Lorraine has sourced a small artistic bench with a plaque remembering Bob and invites anyone wishing to talk to Bob and remember him should come here and sit a while to reflect. 

I didn't know him all that well, still I realise just how much I'll miss his man hugs and outrageous antics. I know his wife, family and close friends will miss them so much more. Here's to Bob.

The small stylish bench and the young tree near Devil's Bridge
We can stop and take a moment to rest with Bob whenever the mood arises.

The man who took Bob's life is now in prison. I struggle to find any excuse for drinking and driving because we are told time and time again how dangerous it is not only for ourselves but for other road users. Rather than turning inwards Lorraine has directed her sadness and loss towards a constructive cause - a petition for tougher sentences for drivers who kill other road users whilst drunk/drugged.

I am mightily impressed at Lorraine's success. All too often these petitions go half baked and get nowhere while Lorraine has already exceeded the 100,000 signatures mark and continues to march on for more. There's been TV and radio appearances, newspaper articles and gathering social media progress. Of course the work is never done so if you could see your way to click the link, read the details and digitally sign it would be most appreciated. 

Reader's Comments

Ian Soady said :-
A poignant tale, and I have signed.

However, I'm always uneasy that sentencing is driven by the consequences of one's actions rather than the actions themselves. Why should causing death by dangerous driving be more harshly punished than the dangerous driving itself? It's a matter of luck whether the driver actually has a collision or not, and whether anyone is hurt as a result is again a matter of chance.

Every time I drive or ride any significant distance, I see behaviour that, if one tiny thing goes wrong, could result in a death - or more than one. But people get away with it time after time until, sadly, they - and their victims - run out of luck.

This is not in any way intended to detract from the obvious pain that these events leave the survivors with.
10/10/2016 11:16:09 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I do agree Ian. Imagine if you will I'm a thug in a bar. You've looked at my pint funny and I shove you. You stagger back and wonder what the problem is. In this instance I'd be really unfortunate to be charged with assault.

However given precisely the same scenario and the same shove but this time you trip over a random handbag, crack your head on the step and fall into a coma, I'm going to be in one hellish heap of trouble.

It seems the law punishes the outcome not the crime.

I doubt the prison service could cope but there's a fair argument that drink driving even without a crash could be seen as attempted manslaughter if not even attempted murder.

My hope would be that stiffer sentences in situations as tragic as Bob's may make would be drink drivers think harder. I hope, we can only hope.
10/10/2016 8:46:38 PM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Hi Ren.

You are one of the very few people who actually understand this - most seem to think that the outcome is what is important. Well, it is of course for the victim / family etc but not for the perpetrator.

I don't think people drive / ride / walk around thinking "If I do this stupid thing what are the potential results?" Come to that, most don't even seem to realise it's stupid in the first place.

I remember when it was commonplace to drink substantial amounts then drive. In fact I used to regularly go for a drink with my (then senior police officer) father and he would think nothing of sinking 3 pints then getting in the car to go home. And of course, as an impressionable youth I followed suit.

I believe what changed many attitudes were the adverts showing the results of such actions, which at the time were criticised for being too graphic. For most people now, anything more than a small glass of wine is just not on. Of course we still have the complete idiots but thankfully fewer than before.
11/10/2016 11:25:47 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
If I got arrested for each stupid action I made I'd never be out of the cells. Luckily most of my stupid actions are social faux pas and not dangerous riding/driving.

We all make mistakes too. However there's a vast gap between the odd honest mistake and riding/driving like a complete nutter all day long. When it comes to drink driving I'd argue it is a considered, pre-meditated and deliberate mistake. Unless you come from a world without TV, internet, social connections and any kind of law I cannot imagine anyone not knowing the dangers.
13/10/2016 4:45:02 PM UTC
Pocketpete said :-
There are only 2 offences in this country where you actually know what sentence you will get.

They are drink driving and murder. They get a 1 year ban and life in prison

However as an ex Bobby I can only say never blame the police. We actually arrested hundreds of people everyday but three courts let the buggers off with a tiny sentence

I arrested someone who had 11 cases on drink driving had no licence or insurance was already banned for 10 years. He was drunk and still driving husband car.

His sentence was 3 months in prison. He actually served 18days in an open prison. And came home at weekends. Where he took out his car again and crashed it in a shop window drunk. They increased his sentence to 6 months.

Crazy world.
13/10/2016 7:52:15 PM UTC
Stuart said :-
I agree that the law seems to miss so many chances to stop accidents happening. I read the other day about a van driver who killed a cyclist and was thought to have been using his mobile phone while driving and had 8 previous convictions for the same offence.

I think that was about 8 missed chances to stop someone being killed.

16/10/2016 5:06:14 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Yip, mobile phone use while driving is still all too popular. If I got paid £1 for each driver I saw using a mobile I think I'd cover my fuel costs on the 125 at least.
17/10/2016 3:06:41 PM UTC
Road2 Pete. said :-
Another treat of a tale. Thanks dude..
6/11/2016 8:45:07 AM UTC
Road2 Pete. said :-
Another treat of a tale. Thanks dude..
6/11/2016 8:45:08 AM UTC

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