Every year hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts flock to Silverstone to experience the “Day of Champions”, a most stupendous event organised to help raise money for Riders 4 Health… and this year Riders invited us along! Wheeeeeee super exciting!!
Up and out early as birds we had a bit of a fighting journey battling gusty winds on the motorway. I have to admit that as a newbie to riding being beaten about by the elements is quite a new experience to me, particularly on clear motorways at high speeds! During my tiff taff with Mother Nature, I decided in my helmet that this new sensation can only be described best as having a load of bath towels hurled at you constantly, wrapping and sporadically tugging at you in various directions. Even the accompanying noise seems to suit well! Next time you’re out riding just give it a thought and see what you think! I digress… up and out, we tootle along to Silverstone and arrive all too excited to see the Riders Helmet and Leather deposit bus! (Sam’s just read this and says a “deposit bus” sounds a bit dodgy and says he thinks I mean a Helmet and Leather Coat Check Kinda thing… even he doesn’t know what to call it but you know what we mean!) We honk, toot and wave manically (someone needs to teach me how to wave proper, I go from one extreme to another when waving and either look like the Queen or alternatively resemble a special person who’s been let out/escaped for the day) pull up and greet the Riders bus volunteers who, despite having no idea who on Earth these two wavey cheery people are, end up being superbly friendly! After a brief chinwag we are advised where to find our Riders contact, park up the bikes, plonk our helmets away and ponder off into the great circuit that is Silverstone!
Although I have been up to Silverstone on various occasions before, I always seem to forget the sheer size of the place. It’s GIGANTIC. As Sam and I made our way through the bustling and growing happy crowds our attention was drawn by the lovely lady that is Riders fundraiser Liz (note, she has a muchos better hand-arm-coordination movement of waving than I)! Bounding up she greeted us full of energy despite the vast and manic amount of organisation she was currently involved in for this amazing day! Chuffed to finally put names to faces, Liz asked if we were ready to pop up on stage for a quick chin wag about our Chasing Horizons Charity Challenge and with a nod we weaved off through the crowds. Now… at this point I must say that Sam and I had agreed to do a chat on stage the day prior and in our minds this “stage” would probably be quite wee. How wrong could we have been. You know the kind of festival stages you see at Glastonbury? Big bowl shaped ones with TV screens and drum kits and all sorts? Yeh? Well that’s exactly what it was. We both double took the stage, looked at each other bemused and commented on not knowing how we manage to get ourselves in to such situations!
After running around to the back entrance, we had no time to consider the scariness ahead, dumped our bags and within seconds were on stage overlooking all of Silverstone with its crowds of eager motorcyclists and families staring up at us. Five minutes ago we had just pulled up in the Silverstone car park… and now we were on an enormous festival like stage! Madness! Complete madness! Liz was introduced and despite her brief pre-nerves she proved to be absolutely mega on the mic. We were then asked a variety of questions and with nervous smiles we pit patter our way through them! It’s quite odd speaking from such a large stage… especially when from the corner of your eye you can see a HUGE screen of yourself! All good fun though, a complete laugh in fact and in the end we waved and said a big thank you before disappearing back stage!
Liz had to dash (if she’d been in spandex she would have been mistaken for Anneka Rice that day! Awesome super lovely crazy busy lady Liz!) so we took a moment to grab a cuppa and cake for a quick 5minutes chillax. Having really only really watched rally racing in the past we both reflected on the fact we knew very little about the MotoGP and didn’t really know what to expect! So when we went for an explore we were super happy to discover that the whole place was alive and utterly awesome! The stage was entertaining with quizzes, audience participation and interviews with some stupendously talented people and tremendous fundraisers! People in the crowds were lovely and there were some fantastic stalls about with all sorts from second hand clothing (right bargains to be had!) to photography, Riders challenges, bikes, om nom food etc etc. We chatted to so many people and were surprised to bump in to some who had travelled all the way from California for the weekend! How wicked is that!? It really shows how much of a draw and how superb the Day of Champions and MotoGP is!
After a while we hopped on the bus and headed to the paddocks for a sneak peek at what the MotoGP teams were getting up to! The night before all of this, I decided it would be wise to swot up on Google on some of the top MotoGP racers in case we bumped in to any thus saving Sam and I the embarrassment of me making a muppet of myself. This swot up though… did not help me at all! At the paddocks we made our way through huddles of enthusiasts all eager to meet and greet their idols which were these rather crazily young look lads handing out autographs left right and centre whilst having photos taken and all sorts. Each face I was presented with did not make match with my google-look-ups so I had no idea who these obviously highly respected fellas were and like Sam, I was completely bamboozled and in awe that they were world class riders at their age and size! They were WEE! WEE I tell you!! I figured I would try and get a few videos of a couple of them and in my puzzlement during filming I think I mention my theory of why they’re so young and wee… it’s obviously because at that age and size you’re more likely to bounce! During filming I tried my best to ask some top class journalistic style questions… I’m not sure how successful they were though! If anyone can enlighten us as to who these two confused riders are in the video below that would be mega!!
Walking about the paddocks was fascinating. The MotoGP teams could be seen working incredibly focused on the frames and engines of the bikes. Everything gleamed. The tools were shiny and all had their place, there was space yet everything seemed to be filled with suitably compact and well designed items and the mechanics concentration was phenomenal, especially with an on looking crowd of gawpers hoping to catch a glimpse of someone famous. Really it was quite impressive and we mused over the fact it was the complete opposite to our erratic semi-chaos oiled filthy like shed workings at home! Music flowed from each garage to another which helped Sam and I determine which team was from what country. The, what we presumed was British team, had “Weeeeeeeee are the chaaaaaampions” pooling out with mechanics sat in silence undistracted… whereas next door the Italian team
had the Cornetto song flowing and some dudes in red dungarees and a red cap saying “Eyyy Luigi! Itsa me, Mariooo!”! Okay. Perhaps a slight exaggeration but the Cornetto song was a definite and there was some Italian shruggage going on! The experience was really quite unique, although if you closed your eyes it did sound very much like being in a dentist chair with the odd high pitch drill noise, soft background music and a light metal jangle from time to time which could easily be resembled to that of a tooth being tossed in a metal tin after extraction! Dentist fearers, no closing your eyes at the paddocks, you will break into a sweat!
Other things which kept us amused included spotting the groupie wannabes… this wasn’t too hard! To my surprise there were less of them than what I expected, but the ones that were there were right gems! Most were sporting high heels, these new rather weird hot-pant-shorts that come up as high as Simon Cowells trousers, push up neon padded bras poking out from skimpy tops, wonky black hair extensions in freshly dyed but slightly purple black straightened manes, thick painted eyebrows leaving a constant look of shock, tarantula girthed eye lashes, you’ve been tango’d skin with a thick line of oranged foundation around the neck and a whiff of sickly sweet white musk… they were quite something! One girl was heard exclaiming “Ooohmygawd, I am like, well ‘appy to be pretteh an’ everyfink, else I dant na wot I’d doo. AHAHAHA”. All forms of LUSH!! The best ones were those who were dressed like that but in their late 40’s! Amazing! Big it up for them though, if that’s what makes them happy then go for it!
We also spent some time dishing out great admiration for the amazing line up of trucks and luxurious lounges with fake trimmed bushes outside, tinted windows, leather suites, cocktail bars and all sorts fancy pants stuff (you know those kind of places would have toilets in with bidets, classical music playing alongside pot pourri, moisturiser and Elizabeth Arden perfume)! With them all set up ready to accommodate the glamorous stars, riders and VIPs soon to be arriving in the next 24hours it was quite impressive!
We later hopped on the bus and headed back to the main arena. This was great timing as upon leaping off the bus we witnessed the arrival of hundreds of riders who annually do a charity ride to the Day of Champions in support of Riders 4 Health! A lovely sight indeed (especially seeing the KTM 990 SMT pull up alongside… mmm yummy bike)! It was pretty awesome to see them all be granted access to the track too and enjoy the experience of a couple of guided rides around the Silverstone track! What an experience!
The afternoon was drawing in though and we decided after an early start and knowing we had a 3 hour windy ride ahead that it was time to make a move. We said as many goodbyes as possible (sad though that we were unable to find the mad hatter that was Liz), geared up, hopped on our KTM 690 Enduro R’s 2012 (which stuck out like sore thumbs in the car park… over the HUNDREDS of bikes there we must have been the only two of a handful that were non sport bikes!) and made our way home!
A truly amazing day and one all bike enthusiasts should pop to if they haven’t already! Not only is it great fun but it also helps raise monies for the wonderful charity that is Riders 4 Health who help provide mechanical support, training and transport to areas in Africa which are incredibly in need. To find out more about Riders, visit our charity page www.chasinghorizons.co.uk/riders or their homepage www.riders.org . At the moment all donations made are being doubled so if you have a spare penny or two and want to help out then please do donate to them (this can be done in under a minute through our just giving page here: