Want to use your riding skills to help out life-limited children and their families?
If so, why not register your interest for the Santa’s on a Bike event this year.
Held on the first Saturday of December each year, motorcycle clubs and individual riders gather together for Christmas-themed rides in order to raise funds for local hospices. These facilities provide much needed emergency support, end of life care, short breaks and sibling support for terminally ill children as well as their families.
You can ride in your Santa outfit to put a smile on the children’s face, or decorate bikes with tinsel and lights to draw public attention to the good cause. If you want to get involved in the all-important background work instead, you can volunteer to sell raffle tickets, marshal the route or help organise the event. Whichever way you choose to participate, you will make a difference to those in need and feel proud to be a rider.
Santa’s Toy Run
The Santa’s on a Bike event is now in its 10th year. It started out as a Santa’s toy run, with the first ride taking place in 2004, when 685 presents were delivered to the children at the Barnardo’s Home in Bristol. Even back then it attracted the help of 200 volunteers on 170 motorcycles. Since then the event just got bigger and bigger with the growing support amongst the motorcycle community.
In 2007, the riding destination changed from Barnardo’s Home to the newly-opened Children’s Hospice Southwest at Charlton Farm, also near Bristol. From this time, fundraising to support the facility became the primary objective rather than delivering presents.
Rides You Can Do
On the 6th December, you can choose from the following three rides:
- Bristol Ride to Children’s Hospice Southwest at Charlton Farm near Bristol.
- Plymouth ride to Little Harbour, a sister hospice which overlooks St Austell Bay in Cornwall.
- North Devon ride to Little Bridge House, another sister hospice near Barnstaple in north Devon.
An overview of each ride is included below; however, you should check the official Santa’s on a Bike website for detailed routes and timings.
Bristol Ride to Charlton Farm
There are a number of start locations for this ride.
- Brigdgewater route – meet at McDonalds at 9am for a 9:30am start.
- Weston-Super-Mare route – meet at the Victoria Café on the sea front to depart at 11am.
- Frome route – meet at Little Chef at Beckington at 9am for a 9:20am start.
- Bath route – Meet at the Globe at Newton St Loe from 10:30am for an 11am departure.
- Cinderford route – Meet at the Rugby Club in Cinderford at 9am for a 9:30am start.
- Gloucester route – meet at the Stonehouse Little Chef in the M5/A38 junction from 10:30am for an 11am start.
All rides will eventually meet up at a Dick Lovett Motorrad at Cribbs Causeway where motorcyclists can take a break and enjoy meeting others. At the end of the break, everyone will ride together to the Children’s Hospice Southwest.
Plymouth ride to Little Harbour
A new ride for 2014, those interested should meet at Lee Mill Ind Estate at Ivybridge at 10:30am.
North Devon ride to Little Bridge House
Another new ride for 2014, the main meeting point for this ride is the North Devon Homes Car Park at Barnstaple. There are several points on this route where motorcyclists can join the ride. The lead rider and others will pull in to pick up areas, wait for new riders to be ready then set off together to the next pick up point.
Pick-up locations and approximate timings are:
- Taunton – Old Hein Gericke at 9:15am.
- Wellington Sky Lark Pub at 9:30am.
- Tiverton McDonalds Car Park at 10am.
- South Molton Log Cabin at 10:30am.
All bikes are welcome to join in, and there are no fees to participate. However, if you would like to help out the hospices, you can make a donation on the day.
Staying Safe This Christmas
With such a big ride coming up this festive season, it is worth remembering that there are many potential dangers when it comes to winter motorcycling. While there is no need to lock up your bike and let it hibernate until the warmer weather arrives, you should exercise plenty of caution when riding in icy, wet weather.
Taking It Easy
Winter roads can be wet, icy and therefore extremely slippery. You will have less grip on the roads, meaning slowing down is the only way to maintain control of your machine.
Going at a slower pace will also allow a safer breaking distance, giving both yourself and other motorists more time to react should an emergency situation occur.
Riding In Strong Winds
Strong winds also tend to occur in winter, and these often send hazardous objects such as tree branches, carrier bags and boxes flying top speed in the air. Try to avoid riding in strong winds if you can, but if you must head out in windy conditions, then go extra slowly to give yourself plenty of reaction time.
Many breakdowns occur in winter due to the harsh weather. Even if your bike is relatively new, it is still a good idea to include a breakdown cover so you can be sure you can get help quicker in an emergency.
Improve Your Visibility
Grey and foggy conditions can make it difficult for motorists and other road users to see motorcyclists. In order to make yourself more visible, wear reflective clothing and ride with your lights on.
Check your lights regularly too to ensure they are in working order and that they are not covered with dirt. Use anti-misting spray on visors and mirrors so you can see all around you.
Wrap Up Warm
Last but not least, you need to wrap up warm when you ride. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Keeping warm is not just about comfort, since you are more likely to tire or lose focus if you are feeling cold while riding your bike.