2002 Unsung Heroes

Published: 25 November 2002

We’ve just added more of nominations for the 2002 Unsung Heroes – the forum for you to publicly thank the people who’ve bailed you out. The winners will be announced on Friday, November 29, 2002.

From Mike Werner in Paris:

We (my wife and I) were riding from Devon to Newhaven to catch the ferry back to France. At 06:00 in the morning at a Shell station I had filled up my tank of my BMW R1200C with unleaded fuel. The fuel however was contaminated!

The bike kept breaking down, stalling, backfiring. We really needed to get to the ferry since we had to be back in France the following day. At a gas station, there was an AA car with a mechanic in it.

I asked him for help, but I'm not a member (we live in France). This gentleman was nice and good enough to spend 45 minutes on the bike to put it in a reasonable running order so that we could get back. He told me that he was not allowed to do it, but recognised that we had a big problem on our hands as it was Sunday and all dealers were closed.

We made it (the bike is still running badly though). I never took the time to take the guy's name, but hope this shows a bit of my gratitude.

From Paul Fairclough:

My hero is a mate of mine, Colin. This year a few of us decided to go to Spain on our bikes, there was a BMW R1100S, GSXR 1000, FAZER 600, ZX7R, R1150GS, SUZUKI GSF600S.

All modern bikes. Plus Colin on his 1977 Kawasaki Z650. Which, to be honest, hadseen better days. Long ago. We went there via the ferry to Santander, Colin suffers from sea sickness but struggled on without any moaning, but a lot of sleeping.

You would think he would have been lagging behind on the road, wrong, in the twisties and over the Pyrenees it took us all our effort to keep up with him, he was awesome. Nearly 2000 miles and all without any problems. None of us want to see him on a modern bike, he would embarrass us all. For the trip he was wore a set of leather pants that were too big for him. So he had drilled a hole on the sides cinched them with a nut and bolt. And to keep them up he stuck a set of granddad braces on. Definitely my hero! If anyone deserves protection, it’s him.

From Brian Pille in California:

On a group ride, I was leading and my friend Geoff Ortolan was riding at the back of the four of us, when I hit a deer at about 70 mph.

When Geoff got there he sent someone to call for help and cleaned the dirt out of my helmet so I could breath. He helped the emergency help that arrived and directed the helicopter that took me away. Then, he then went to my wife’s workplace to kindly break the news to her. I think he quite literally save my life.

From William Laverty in Ballmoney:

I'd like to nominate a bloke named Norman Shields from Ballymoney Co. Antrim as the ultimate unsung hero. For years Norman has been an ever present marshall at race meetings and practice nights at circuits all over Ireland.

Nothing special in that you might say. Except that Norman hitch hikes to the meetings and back. Norman goes out in all weathers, sometimes at ridiculously early hours to be sure he gets there in time. Always cheerful and friendly, I've seen him chat to people whom he knows passed him on the way and will pass him again on the way back. Norman loves bikes and racing and will unstintingly give his time to anything or anyone bike related. He is the type of person who is the backbone of our sport and deserves the recognition.

From Alex Cave:

I would like to nominate my mate Richie, who rides a CBR600. It took me four attempts to pass my test and each time I felt like giving up he was right there encouraging me to take it again.

Unfortunately, I didn’t ask his advice when buying my first bike and ended up with something I hated! However he eventually convinced me to ditch it and get a Suzuki SV650s which is the Bee’s knees in my mind! I love it. He has also taken me on rideouts which has increased my confidence and experience no end.

Not only has he done all that, any time I have a question about the bike, or I want an accessory fitted, he is there to lend a hand!

From Bill Owen:

I'd like to nominate Dave Brazener. Dave is the co-ordinator for the Gloucester branch of the RoSPA motorcycle section. He’s a tireless worker for the group, organising rideouts, arranging talks and meetings and generally holding the group together though his, entirely voluntary, efforts.

His enthusiasm for training people to advanced riding standard and constantly trying to improve rider safety is infectious and I'm sure this spurs on all the other observers/trainers in the group to give their best. Thanks Dave.

From David Bladon:

About two months ago I set off to work on my Suzuki TL1000R. It was quite cold and the roads were a little damp so I took my time and left the house. I was only 500 yards into the journey when the front end tucked. I had no chance of saving it and the bike landed on me and dragged me down the road.

Luckily there were no cars about, but I’d fractured my arm and was quite heavily bruised. Fortunately for me two fellas in a Peugeot came found the corner and stopped to lend a hand. They helped me pick the bike up and one of them pushed it back to my home while the other got all of my broken bike bits and helmet etc, and loaded them, and me, into the car.

I really don’t know how I would have managed to get back home without leaving the bike lying on the floor if these two guys hadn’t arrived when they did.

Because of all the excitement and adrenalin I never got to really thank them properly for helping me out. So if they are reading this then I would like to say a big thanks to the

both of them.

From Lee Ashworth, Macclesfield:

I'd like to nominate my engineer mate Rob Richardson for all the invaluable help he gave me in designing and building an ace set of ramps. It means I can keep my bike in my garden and off the street - a handy reduction in insurance for a 22-year-old. The steps that I have to negotiate are quite impressive - three steps up, along a bit, up four steps that go round a corner, along a bit more, through the gate and up some more steps THEN into the shed. Believe me, it doesn’t look possible! I feel like a certain Dougie Lampkin every time I put my Suzuki Bandit away, especially when the lads at the factory opposite watch hoping I'll fall off.

Building them took a whole weekend of some of the best biking weather all year and involved much skinning of knuckles and swearing. Much respect! Then there’s the time he drove out in his car to pick me up when my bike broke down and he had the world’s worst bout of flu....

From Ben Clauss in Chicago:

I would like to nominate my father and thank him for my interest in bikes. I can remember one incident while riding on the back of my dad's bike. We were coming back home from a ride when we hit some bumps in the road about the same time the front forks decided to seize. We both few over the bars and into a conveniently placed swamp.

I remember hitting the water, going under, then popping up with a helmet full of stagnant muck. After that a temporary damper was put on the riding but I did manage to convince him to let me have a go at a friend’s farm.

I went up there for a weekend so that I could learn how to ride. What I didn't know is that my first solo ride would be on a Harley Davidson 90. When I woke up the next morning I was fully prepared to start that bike and start taming the cow pastures.

Then the reality set-in. I was 12-13 at the time and let’s just say not quite the size I should be for riding this bike. Well after a good 30 minutes of choke, kick, gas, repeat the damn thing fired up and nearly scared the shit out of me.

I can remember driving the HD with John on the back when about half across the field he jumps off and leaves me with what I swear was my first tankslapper.

I just purchased a new Triumph Speed Four and took my dad to the dealership to show him. It has been a long summer and I just wanted to thank him for getting up at 4:30 in the morning to make the 2.5-hour journey to track day at Gingerman.

I can always count on him for making sure everything is tight, lubed and correctly inflated. Next year even more so, since I decided to campaign the new Kawasaki ZX6-RR in the CCS amateur supersport class and look forward to having family there, especially my dad. Because if it wasn't for his support I would not have grown to love the sport of motorcycling.

From Eric Rutter:

I would like to nominate Mike Hose. While in the Isle of Man for the Manx GP, my gearbox stuck in second gear at Ramsey Hairpin so I had a good trip over to Douglas in second. Lovely!

The following day I went to see the races from the Grandstand on my way there Mike saw me asked why I was so down in the mouth.

I explained to him my bike was knackered. Mike just told me to go and get it and bring it to his van after the race so he could take my bike home for me. Not just that, but he said he’d leave his BMW1150GS with me to use.

What a great gesture. And all this while he is getting ready to race the best road race circuit in the world. How cool is that? The bloke’s a good friend and a hero.