WOW 2022: Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!
Finally Free of You Know What!
Day One: July 9th 2022
Finally, we have been able to hold a full-scale WoW; the grip of C19 on the country has eased and the restrictions now seem a distant memory. They were strange times.
It was great to feel the excitement build as the posts on the ubiquitous WhatsApp group pinged back and forth between everybody. Everything seems to have its own WhatsApp group these days, doesn’t it? Ten people travelled from far and wide to join in and sample the delights of Worcestershire and our neighbouring counties. However, C19 couldn’t resist one last prod at the group: The sting in the tail came as one lad couldn’t join us as his good lady contracted you know what….
Thundercat, the bike that brings people together
Returning to a more positive note (pardon the pun!) I remain amazed at how these group events keep happening: A set of people brought together by a choice of motorcycle made, in some cases, many years ago. Even if few of the group still own or ride a Thundercat, it is the glue that continues to bond us together.
To mix things up a bit Mandy & I decided to have everyone at the house for the Friday social. The troops gathered and as it always does, the banter and beer flowed freely and easily. Some remarkable tales emerged of the journey down. For example, Rosco had an uneventful trip: Absolutely nothing fell off his Thundercat, or even so much as worked loose! Truly astonishing! A first surely? His is the last Thundercat actively joining the rides now. I still have mine, but it is enjoying a semi-retirement these days. However, we did roll the old thing out of the garage for a photo call.
My Thundercat is a bit of a garage queen these days, but it still muscles into the action!
He’ll see the light someday: John tries my Ducati for size!
The Veggie curry and Bolognese Mandy had whipped up for everyone was going down a storm. Dad’s Army was enjoying themselves, but only four of them are let out by Matron from the nursing home these days. More of a section than an actual platoon! The ice-cold beer flowed freely as the sun shined down on the extensive grounds of Radar Hall. Let’s hope the weather holds for tomorrow.
Day Two – July 9th: Feeling a little deflated
The next morning dawned and as my mother used to say ‘the sun was splitting the stones’. Perfect as the group gathered in the middle of Bewdley. All was going smoothly and our numbers were bolstered by a couple of my locally based mates; Andy on a Yamaha MT07 Tracer and Matt on his towering R1200 GS Adventure. In total 13 bikes were strung out in a neat line as we headed off for a day of fun and frolics in the sunshine. Rosco and his tastefully liveried Thundercat obviously the pride of the fleet, out shining Mr. Mead’s Ducati. So new money…and it doesn’t even have the proper ‘Ducati death rattle’ to let us know it is there. Unlike Nathan’s more traditional example, which rattles like a bag of spanners tipped into an empty, rotating oil-drum!
Causing Mild Chaos in the middle of Bewdley.
We headed out from Bewdley through Far Forest and on towards Clee Hill. This is one of my favourite sections of road locally as it twists and turns passing through some lovely sweeping countryside and the charming village of Cleobury Mortimer. The whole section is stunning, especially so on a sun kissed day like the one we were riding on.
The view from Clee Hill is a sight to behold. I never grow tired of it, and I have gazed out across the vista that spreads before you countless times. On a good day, like the day our visit, it is said you can see as many as seven counties right the way into Wales. The lads who had now been fortunate enough to be here before just drank it all in. The lads seeing it for the first seemed blown away. Camera phones were working overtime. This is a special place and I often come to just sit and have a ponder about life. It felt good to share a moment there with likeminded friends.
Up on Clee Hill
Chaos Kicks In:
Back on the bikes and I led the group down a five mile long section that I really love riding. It cuts across from Clee Hill to the outskirts of Tenbury. This is a slightly bumpy, sinuous road that has some tight and demanding turns. Technical, the posh journalists would call it. Fun, in layman’s terms! Not everybody likes it, but it was my ride-out so there! I got into this road when had my S2R Ducati and used to approach the section with ‘Attack’ mode engaged. Great fun. Even on my comparatively lumbering BMW it brings a smile to my face. The group seemed to be savouring the challenge too.
Beginning to unravel
Tenbury Wells was next up. Another charming small town with a traditional high street and lovely timber framed buildings. I was keen to show off just how pleasant this area is. Keeping things in that vein, we headed towards Bromyard next. This is another delicious section of tarmac cutting through a beautiful backdrop as you head toward Bromyard, known locally as ‘The Jewell of the Downs’. Up to this point the marker system was working smoothly and we were hanging together well as a group. Then we hit the town and it all went a bit Pete Tong for a bit! First, Chris on the V2 decided to miss the marker. So instead of neatly touring the picturesque main street the group became somewhat fractured. Oh rats
Just as we began to regroup outside the delightfully named Chinese Restaurant Shun Fat (!), it because clear that we were a man down. Nathan our back marker was missing. Oh, jeez, he hadn’t come off had he?
My old friend Andy on his MT was despatched to head back to check if he was ok. We endured an anxious 30-minute wait in the baking heat waiting for news. We even sent Mr. Pike on his Honda Fireblade back to see what was going on too; I think he just fancied a blast on his own and who could blame him on a cracking road like that? Eventually news got back to us that Nathan’s Ducati had suffered a puncture and he had not come-off his bike. Phew! They had managed to plug it and re-inflate the tyre between them using the handy little pump the ever-resourceful Andy carried with him.
The cause of all the grief. Looks like an ignition key from a Cortina!
Change of Plan
With so much time eaten up it was time for a bit of a re-think on the route: We decide to head directly for Crossgates just over the border into Wales. This was no hardship as the A44 into Wales via Leominster is delightful for an A road. Bobbing and weaving across the countryside you quickly flash across the border into Powys. Crossgates, our lunch halt, came into view all too soon, but it was good to have a relaxing break at this popular venue serving a range of internationally famous salads… Chris, as usual, filled his face with cake. Has he never heard of sliced carrot?? I try so hard to set an example to the rest of the group with my moderation!
Cucumber consumed; spring water drank we got back on the bikes for the return leg. The temperatures were really climbing by now, so it was great to get moving and cool down a little.
We took in my traditional return route, yet another challenging road through yet more beautiful countryside. On a day like this the UK is surely one of the best places on the planet. We are so lucky and too often forget that in my opinion. The group have covered some of this ground back in the days of the superb BC events, but in the other direction. Notably in BC4 when a couple of lads decided to check out the countryside a little more intimately than is ideal! No such drama today, thank goodness! This is a route peppered with lovely views and villages, but Leintwardine probably stands out with its main street lined with black and white timbered buildings. The group was properly in a flow now and everybody seemed to be enjoying a dam good days riding.
Time to Cool Down
We popped into the Clive Arms near Ludlow, to have a break and an ice cream and take the traditional line up shot. It was great to see the lads from all over the country mixing so well again. My two local mates already seem to have blended smoothly into the group. Matt had even joined the blue-tooth techy group. I’ve not managed that in 10 years!
The section back from Newham Bridge, running parallel to the River Theme briefly, and through to Far Forest is another one of my favourites. I was enjoying punting the old RS along at a most undignified pace. The lads all seem to be enjoying themselves too. It can be hard to tell when you’re leading as opposed to further back in the line. Back in Bewdley all the bikes and riders in one piece and dam good days riding successfully completed. Another great Thundercat ride-out, albeit a little shorter than some due to the midday dramas
Encore on the Switchbacks
Dad’s army peeled off and headed back to their digs for a cool down. Rosco, Chris, Nathan & both Stevens and I decided to head over to Stourport for a cooling drink by the marina. A spot Chris remembered fondly from WoW 2020. Steve D and I took this opportunity to change bikes: He chucked me the keys to his funky BMW R9T 719. I have to say it is great fun as we headed over some famous local twisties called ‘The Switchbacks’ from Bewdley to Stourport. It reminded me of my lamented Ducati S2R1000 in a weird way. Another ‘bitsa-bike’ that is way more than the sum of its parts. Paired back biking with a dash of style
The basin/marina at Stourport is a lovely spot on a sun-kissed day. I’m not actually sure if my ice-cool lager shandy went down in one or evaporated as I drank it. Man, I needed that! It was a good wind down to a highly enjoyable ride. But the fun wasn’t completely over as Chris very generously let me loose on his Ducati Panigale V2. Great fun to ride, especially on home ground too. The bike swallowed up the switchbacks with an arrogant disdain. The faster that I rode the better and more comfortable it became! I wouldn’t try using that line in court…The V2 set me thinking about the 950 Supersport I tried a few months ago. Might be time for another go. Hide those finance forms!
Savouring the delights of Bewdley
The days riding was done. Remarkably, absolutely nothing detached itself from Rosco’s Thundercat. Our last man standing using the legendary YZF on a ride-out. It did him proud!
The riding might be done but the fun certainly wasn’t. We had yet to savour the delights of Bewdley properly. A stunning Georgian merchant trading town, nestled alongside the River Severn with a beautiful bridge, engineered by the legendary Thomas Telford the jewel in the crown. Famous for flooding, the Severn is basically the drain for the Welsh mountains, it is hard to imagine the river in flood on a gentle sunny evening though. The river shimmering in the evening sunlight. What an idyllic spot
The group re-convened for the traditional Saturday evening social and what better way to start the fun than with a pint of proper beer at Bewdley Brewery. In particular, Christian of ‘Dad’s Army’ savouring the delights of Worcestershire Way, brewed on site.
Real ale downed we strolled along by the river and made its way to The Rajah curry house. No visit to the Midlands can be considered complete without a dammed good curry! The team at the restaurant didn’t disappoint. Bob caused much mirth the waiters by renaming Rogan Josh completely. I’m still not sure what he said, but he wound up with the right meal! Only my two local friends and John Pike skipped the evening events. John was revelling in the excellence of his digs way out in the Forest. As always, the banter flowed, and I was struck by how such good friends we have all become over the years.
The evening was rounded off by a couple of pints in The Mug House pub right alongside the river. The light by now was fading, the setting sun dancing on the water was a sight to behold. We all enjoyed those drinks the poor barmaid didn’t drop and as he sun slowly set on another perfect day, I reflected on another memorable outing for our group. These are days to savour and look back on
Thanks to everybody who made such an effort to come such big distances. It was a privilege to show you around my home ground and I hope that you enjoyed yourselves as much as I did . Here’s to WoW 2023! See you there!
Words and Pictures: Tony Donnelly
First published on www.yamaha-thundercats.org