Attendance at this year’s Stormin’ was extremely high, with many thousands creating a temporary town of peace and good will in the way that only riders can.
The fresh hill-top winds seemed to revive spirits of riders from Northern Ireland to the European continent, in pursuit of friendship, chill-out and curried chips.
The front gate was a model of efficiency, and an object lesson in how to handle thousands of riders without creating frustrating backlogs, causing one impressed Gold Wing rider to suggest ‘the Government ought to give the customs and immigration border control contract to bikers.’
As ever, surprisingly few riders expressed admiration for the gravel drive – a point noted by the organisers. Everything else, from the excellent camping fields to the numerous and divers stands and food outlets, was excellently arranged and run.
MAG’s stand had brisk business throughout, with Harrison Purves (aged 10) insisting on joining to acquire ‘the tokens.’ MAG-preferred insurance broker, Bikesure were present, offering great deals on insurance at sensible prices especially for non-standard machines – a specialism of the firm, whose motto could be ‘we insure the unusual cases.’
Blake Pearson (aged 1) was the Custom Bike Show’s most youthful entrant, with a pram he’s had ‘since new.’ Perfect examples of classic Jap machines including a Suzuki Kettle and Kawasaki Z900 shared the field with rat-bikes, superb customs and assorted trikes underlining the creativity and in some cases, entertaining slovenliness of British bikers.
Amongst the bands, which included The Temperance Movement, Blackjack and Groove Train, musical accompaniment was provided by the incomparable James Toseland. The former racers band was a particularly big hit with the female element in the audience, one of whom dubiously claimed the lead guitarist had given her a ‘wide-on.’ Nuff said. At any rate, the rhythm combined with curried chips to provide that unique blend of enjoyment and carbohydrates which doubtless the Government would like to ban.
MAG’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Lembit Öpik, was there, thanks to the persuasive powers of MAG Rep Dave Wigham. Lembit’s lifelong friend Austin Vince gave what can only be described as a cross between an adventure riding presentation and a stand-up routine which pushed the mirth factor to the red line in a very agreeable way. When the projector lacked the illuminating power to actually cast a visible image on the screen, Austin projected his personality in a way which lit up the room far more effectively than any PowerPoint presentation ever could.
However, Austin himself seemed insanely ill-prepared for Stormin’ a field, let alone a castle. ‘For a round-the-world rider Austin amazed me with his lack of kit,’ explains Lembit. ‘He didn’t even have a tent. Apparently, he was planning to sleep outside. That’s not called camping that’s called homelessness. I shared my tent with him, on the, as-it-turns out correct, assumption that he’d raise the ambient internal temperature by around four Celsius. As such and I want to make this very clear indeed – there was no cuddling.’
In fact, the main thing which distinguishes motorcycling rallies from ‘normal life’ is that they’re very nice. Go to many more mainstream events of this size and for sure there will be some kind of grief that seems to be totally absent from motorcycle rallies. Book yourself for Stormin’ next year, and experience a little more peace and paradise than you’ll ever get with normal people.