July 8, 2011

The long awaited day finally came and Bankstone’s merry band of monkey bike riding medieval men and women duly toured ten Yorkshire castles over two days raising money for Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA).

Confusingly, the heavens held off administering the soakings so familiar from previous years’ events and the sun shone serenely throughout. Sweltering under layers of leather and medieval over-clobber, some riders discerned a covert sadistic intent behind the elements’ apparent clemency.

A multifarious cast of knights, monks, damsels, jesters, kings, bears and highland warlords assembled at Bankstone’s Brighouse base and sped off to a well-wishing wave from YAA’s Kerry Garner.

With hearts and engines throbbing the cavalcade buzzed its way from Brighouse to Skipton, bemusing non-plussed pedestrians with a cacophany of bleetish horn tootings. With one bike stricken before take-off and a flat tyre picked up along the way, BLD’s support vehicle quickly proved its worth, enabling riders to hop from one steed to the next with alacrity.

Knaresborough town crier Simon Shaw joined the troupe at Skipton Castle and kept up a stentorian oratorical accompaniment at all subsequent stops. The energetic bucket shaking exploits of assorted Examworks and Bike Insurer wenchly types began working their way towards the weekend’s princely cash donation total of £193.55.

The longest leg of the journey saw the bikes wend up Wharfedale via Kilnsey Crags, Kettlewell, Burnsall and Buckden, past Aysgarth Falls to the stately fastness that is Bolton Castle.

Next came a short hop up the road to Middleham Castle, where some hasty snaps were taken beneath the ramparts whilst a pair of knights bravely held off shooing English Heritage retainers before the drawbridge.

Then it was back through Leyburn, along Wensleydale for a stealth attack on the doughty ramparts of the massive Richmond Castle. Only one hour behind schedule at this point, with 79 miles covered, the party’s thoughts began to turn to lunch.

Happily said repast awaited in Northallerton courtesy of Simon Bailes, where repairs were effected to one ailing monkey bike, allowing the town crier a chance to ride one of the spare bikes.

The first involuntary moving dismount of the trip occured en route to Helmsley Castle, with the bike coming off worse than the rider, who continued with an alternative mount. Another mechanical failure there relegated Bankstone’s Dickon Tysoe to the lead car.

Did the group next go to Pickering Castle? Yes and no. They went there,  certainly, or at least within a stone’s throw of it. But never quite arrived in the strictest geographical sense, due to a temporary road closure and the urgently distracting call of cold beer in Scarborough.

Arriving therein at sixish on Saturday evening, participants split up for the divers purposes of boozing, currying and marveling at the anti-climactic tedium of the Haye-Klitschko fight on the giant screens of the centrifugal social slaughterhouse that is the sticky-floored Scarborough casino.

Reassembling at 9am in front of the dread Grand Hotel, the party took an oddly circuitous route to the locked gates of Scarborough Castle via the cobble-topped seafront circuit.

Via a variety of routes, the party then proceeded to the picturesque privately-owned ruin that is Sheriff Hutton Castle, where the owners treated the monkey men to a distinctly exclusive private view.

Sunday lunch came courtesy of U-Pullit near well-known Viking showdown spot Stamford Bridge. Here, 220 miles into the trip, further repairs were carried out, crisps and soft drinks consumed and loins girded for the last few stops.

At next stop Knaresborough the party was greeted by the Mayor and the local Silver Band (brass not good enough for Knaresborough folk) and the crier whipped the assembled crowds into a frenzy of coin-tossing largesse.

A few miles up the road, Ripley Castle gave every impression of having been airdropped in from Tuscany. Unfazed, the monekybikers threw themselves into one final round of posing, then whisked themselves off back to the finish post in Brighouse, a mere 35 miles beyond.

Who could learn of such exploits without immediately and urgently wishing to donate with extreme generosity. Do not deny yourself, Gentle Sir or Madam. Click on the JustGiving thingy (above left) and play a part in keeping YAA saving lives and hopefully getting another season of Helicopter Heroes commissioned.

Want to take part next year, when Bankstone and friends will be doing something distinctly similar? Of course you do. There’s a date in the diary already. Simply email Chief Monkey Dickon Tysoe and you too could be living the Medieval Monkey dream for two glorious days next summer.


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