Surrey Chapter UK - Join the club
Monday, August 1, 2011
This month, we take a ride into the world of Surrey’s motorcyclists, as we meet the members of the Surrey Chapter UK. Here, Steve Hutchinson tells us all about the fun and camaraderie that comes with being a member of the club
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2009
When was the club set up?
The Surrey Chapter UK started in 1991 – so 2009 marks our 18th anniversary.
How often do you meet?
We hold a regular club night on the second Thursday of every month at The Star pub on the Kingston Road, adjacent to the Leatherhead Golf Club. However, our busy riding schedule ensures that we also have ride-outs almost every weekend throughout the year – sometimes twice during a weekend in the summer months. In addition, we also have midweek summer circuit rides that take place on every fourth Thursday, from May to September. Finally, we have a very comprehensive all-year round tour calendar, which allows our members to spend extended time together, either in this country or abroad.
What’s the best thing about being a member of the club?
The camaraderie, friendliness, total acceptance and mutual respect. If you have a Harley (or a Buell) then you’re one of us!
Do you find being surrounded by like-minded individuals inspiring?
Very much so. We all tend to draw from each other’s experiences – both in life and in our riding – and it’s quite humbling at times to realise that the bond we share, purely from the love of our motorcycles, and the lifestyle that goes with it, can be such a powerful common denominator. Whether you’re a heart surgeon or a shop assistant – if you share the dream, you’re welcome in our family. The bike is a great leveller.
How many members do you have?
At the moment we have around 375 members, although we continue to attract new blood on a regular and steady basis. We’ve had about a dozen people join us so far this year, so in a time of recession, to be seeing a growth of about five per cent per annum is not too bad!
Our youngest member is 27 and our oldest is 74. It’s probably fair to say that the average age group is between the late 40s to the early 50s. However, we believe that age is just a number and is not a barrier in any way, shape or form.
Do you have links with other clubs?
Although Harley-Davidson boasts the largest factory-sponsored motorcycle club in the world, we are proud to be a totally independent riding club that has no affiliation – other than owning our motorcycles. However, we do maintain very positive links with many other Harley rider groups and we mutually support each other at various open days, charitable fund-raising events and rallies.
What’s the most interesting story from the group’s history?
We have many tales to tell – but one that’s recent and still fairly topical was the Iron Butt ride that some of our members (which included one of our lady riders and the 74-year-old!) did last year. It was midsummer’s day 2008 and the idea was to ride more than 1,000 miles in less than 24 hours. We actually rode 1,085 miles in 22 hours and 50 minutes – and it rained in biblical proportions for 95 per cent of that time. So much for summer. Nonetheless, our efforts raised over £14,000 for mouth cancer research at the St Luke’s Cancer Centre at The Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford. The ride leader and organiser, Trent Holmes, had been diagnosed with mouth cancer exactly a year earlier.
During recent years, we have also raised about £15,000 for the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust, and a similar amount for a soft playground for the special needs children at Sherwood Park School in Wallington. Both of these events involved us ‘Hoggin’ the Thames’, where over 100 Harleys rode a zig-zag route across every bridge in London from Tower Bridge to Hampton Court Palace.
…and the funniest?
On the last day of one of our weekend away trips, everyone loaded up for the journey home and set off from the hotel to the ferry. We stopped off for an ice cream en-route, and then set off again. At our next stop, somebody said to X, ‘where’s Y?’ (Y being the wife), and the look of horror on his face said it all. Never has a bike been ridden so fast to locate a missing pillion! Amazingly, they’re still married, and we still tease them about it to this day.
When is your next event that is open to the public/potential new members?
The best time would probably be at our regular club night at The Star. We meet there from 7.30pm and all are welcome.
Describe your club in five words...
Fun, friendly, accepting, original and fantastic!
For more details, call 0870 7669856