July 13, 2012

Regular readers of Bankstone News will, like as not, have worked out for themselves by now that Bankstone supremo Dickon “Dicky Snoots” Tysoe fancies himself the reincarnation of much misunderstood monarch Richard III.

Any suspicions you may yourself have formed along these lines will only be confirmed upon reading the following open letter penned by the illustriously foreborne Mr T upon the topic of last weekend’s Medieval Monkeys charity fundraising epic. You may think the first bit sounds somehow familiar…

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

So what if Shakespeare had my namesake talking about his brother taking the throne? He could just as well have been describing Medieval Monkeys. Richard III (real name Dickon – and by a spooky coincidence (or is it coincidence?!) born in Northamptonshire, where I was born) often stayed at Sheriff Hutton castle due to its convenient proximity to York during the period of his tenure as so-called Lord of the North (a title I must confess I have more than once heard used in reference to my good self of late).

Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that Sheriff Hutton became the centre piece of our fund raising activities this year – and that it was here we met the crew of one of the helicopters, which flew in specially to meet us.

The weekend started at Brighouse (whose connection to Richard III has yet to be established) as the monkey bike riders gathered and compared medieval garb. We had knights, ladies, jesters, an executioner, and some very fetching men at arms going for a slightly butcher Norfolk interpretation of the Robin Hood theme. We also had two monkeys (one riding and one strapped to the top box), a 7ft bear and three bucket shaking wenches (not as rude as it sounds).

One individual failed to arrive in costume and paid the forfeit by completing part of the route on Sunday dressed, Lady Godiva style, in the Bubbles DeVere suit bought in for the Ilkley Moor stop on the Monkey Moviestars famous film scenes re-enactment version of our annual monkeybike tour.

The route took us from Brighouse – via a fuel stop in Keighley – at which the leaking BLD Gorilla got swapped for one of the spare bikes – to the gates of Skipton Castle, where the wenches rattled their buckets up and down the High Street and we picked up the Knaresborough Town Crier. He came with an inordinate amount of baggage which included a PA system which enabled him to harangue the population at every stop and to entertain us with a selection of Christmas songs. Don’t ask. Never ask!

Leaving Skipton, the convoy headed out through Embsay and down to Barden Tower. One of the Bikesure monkeys lost its clutch en route, and was relegated to the BLD van until Whitby the following day where it was fixed. Initially believing we were the wedding party they had been expecting, the denizens of Barden Tower neglected to eject us immediately from the restaurant car park. What gave us away we will need know, but they eventually twigged and told us to hop it. Which we did as soon as the convoy had reformed.

Then it was on towards Appletreewick, through Pateley Bridge, and on to Ripley Castle, where, after a few minutes for photos outside the gates, we moved the convoy into the car park, where the ravening hordes fell upon the lunch made ready for us there by Lady Tysoe.  A very tall photographer called Jonathan Pow accosted our party and talked us into riding up and down the high street so he could get some shots he could send to the picture editors on the national newspapers. This had the regrettable side effect of confusing the hell out of everyone, randomly spinning off splinter groups at roundabouts either side of town, and utterly splitting the convoy.

Losing another Bikesure bike between Ripley and Knaresborough, we all managed to meet up again by the A1 and proceed in good order over the wooden toll bridge at Linton to Sheriff Hutton. With so many bikes succumbing to mechanical failure, we were running out of car seats for bike less riders. So we enlisted the aid of Lady Tysoe who ferried Bbkeless Bikesure Dan and his gear on to Sheriff Hutton castle.

There, Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) fund raisers had set up a stall, and the owners of the castle had invited the villagers to come into the castle and meet them. The air ambulance then flew in and we all got a chance to pose for photos with it, and to chat to the stars of the Helicopter Heroes TV programme, including pilot Tim and Tony the paramedic. They do a fantastic job, and we were incredibly lucky that they were not called out to rescue someone and were able to come and meet us. They then took off and, after hovering to wave and for us to take pictures, they flew off into the hazy distance.

We reformed the convoy and set off to Kirkham Priory. Pausing there for photos we were surprised to be joined again by Lady T again who had raced to catch the convoy in order to reunite Dan with his riding gear and overnight bag which he had left in her car.

The next stage saw us ride back over the A64, up to Malton and along the very picturesque Dalby Forest toll road. Our last pause was for a comfort stop at the visitor centre before burning off to our overnight stop in Scarborough.

Thus far we had enjoyed great weather. However this was soon to change. We woke up on Sunday to a heavy sea mist and rain. We set off to Whitby Abbey, where mechanically minded monkey wranglers fettled the machines, cannibalising the non-runners for parts to get the maximum number running as the rain had stopped and everyone wanted to ride. Dan was back on a bike, but sadly he didn’t stay on it long, falling victim to the copious amounts of gravel washed into the road by the heavy rain, and taking a tumble before we went through Grosmont. Phil Wilding and his team hurried him to hospital while we continued in subdued mood, getting periodic progress reports and eventually meeting up with them at our final stop in Knaresborough. Dan had broken and dislocated a finger and has since had an operation. We all wish him a very speedy recovery.

We went over the North Yorks Railway at Grosmont before detouring from our original route when we saw the ford we were planning to cross was 2ft under water and then climbed into thick mist for an eerie, wet and quiet run over the moor.

The next stop was Rosedale Abbey for possibly the least impressive abbey ruins you will ever see. Google it if you don’t believe me! The stop was chosen more for its proximity to the famous Rosedale Chimney Bank which allegedly is the steepest motorable road in the UK. Lots of roads are posted as 1 in 3 (we went up and down several of them this weekend) however this is the sole genuine example. Once up the Chimney (resorting to 1st gear) it was over the moors again to Hutton Le Hole and down to Helmsley, where the Steam Traction Engine Rally ensured we could not park for bucket shaking, so raced off to Rievaulx for our long-anticipated lunch stop.

Rievaulx Abbey is a very impressive ruin but no-one in our group seemed to notice, having eyes only for the back of Tim’s car he and Allan had laid out a sumptuous feast. Who would have expected roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and piping hot gravy?  Uncomfortably full, we were soon off again past the gliding club at Sutton Bank, waving to the white horse of Yorkshire and on to Knaresborough, where – once Ian had performed his valedictory parade in the Bernie the Bear suit, the girls performed a final act of bucket shaking, and everyone said hello to a bandage and drug suffused Dan – the Harrogate and NE based parts of our convoy – along with the Town Cryer – said their goodbyes.

It was getting late so, eschewing the delights of the back roads, we took A Roads all the way back to Brighouse, passing under Leeds Bradford airport, home of the air ambulance we were raising money for.

It was a heck of a trip.  Thank you to everyone who was involved in any way.  Please encourage everyone you know to donate to make the pain seem worthwhile!

Here is to next year – keep the 29th and 30th June free in your diary if you would like to take part.


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