As ever the Bristol MAG Annual Group Meeting was the epitome of efficient democracy. OK, it was pretty informal and started late but everything was said or discussed that needed to be.
The highlight of the event was two new exciting people being elected to the committee. Kev Merry will be the new clubs rep, helping keep the clubs abreast of what we're up to and vice versa. Joe Thomas will be the new vice rep, taking some pressure off Taps now that he's moved just over the bridge.
We got plenty done this year, and there's shed loads more to do in 2016, so come and get involved!
A massive thank you to everyone that joined the ride-out to the Julian Trust night shelter. We're delighted that over 75 of you supported Bristol MAG's event and Richard Drake was delighted that we donated £337.50 cash and several hundred pounds worth of food, new clothing and bedding. I think he was also a bit delighted that it gave him an excuse to play on his own motorbike.
In all seriousness this is an important event - the Julian Trust receives no government funding and relies on voluntary work and charitable donations to continue its vital work. In these days of inequality, food-banks and fat cat bonuses the night shelter is unable to meet demand with people queueing from mid afternoon until evening when the shelter opens. Every little counts and once again bikers have shown themselves to be generous, knowing that no matter how little some of us have, it is still much more than some.
Thanks again to Dan Cropley for organising the event and booking the lovely weather and light traffic along the route.
Extra special thanks go to those that helped marshall the ride, and to Debz from Weston MAG and Steve Litson of Reckless Rideouts for organising secondary meeting points to bring people along to the start of the main ride.
On what was quite possibly the last sunny Saturday of the year Bristol MAG pitched up at Riders in Brislington to spread the word about MAG and the important work we do.
There was pretty good footfall throughout the day and plenty of people left with a copy of The Road magazine or a couple of flyers.
Everyone had a great day at this year's Bristol Bike Show, thanks as usual to the efforts of Claire, Gen, Nic and all their volunteers.
With bikes lining the streets of Bristol's historic centre, the sun shone everywhere except on Aine Gale who seemed permanently frozen. Didn't stop her smiling all day though!
The bands were great and the particular highlight for me were the Pixies and Nirvana covers!
The Bristol MAG stand did a good trade throughout the day signing up members new & old, selling plenty of raffle tickets, and generally spreading the word about MAG's valuable work.
With Tim and Claire unsually absent from the evening's after show party it was left to the rest of Bristol MAG to keep everyone well fed and full of beer, Eddie's unusual use of a welding mask having no connection with any black, charred meat products ;-)
April 23rd saw Bristol MAG host a "Riders Are Voters" hustings event to quiz prospective MPs about biking issues. With around 40 bikers from Bristol's 4 constituencies the parliamentary hopefuls faced a tough audience, not least because the Labour and Conservative candidates failed to show up, reinforcing some feelings about the political "establishment".
The Liberal Democrat representative - Mark Wright - was generally the voice of moderation and reason. After scoring many brownie points for standing up for biking issues as a Bristol councillor he then lost quite a few with his open support of the 20mph limits. Bristol bikers are at best indifferent to these, and at worst livid.
The UKIP candidate - Mervyn Laxon - turned up on a Fazer 1000, was well informed about biking issues and was unsurprisingly a voice against EU interference on all fronts. This all went down very well given MAG's almost continuous fight against unnecessary EU bureaucracy and legislation. By the end however Mervyn's rhetoric was sounding slightly repetitive and it was necessary to cut him short on a couple of occasions.Having been a biker for many years you'd have to ask why he wasn't aleady a member, but after correction by the Western Region rep he saw the error of his ways and was signed up to MAG.
Justin Quinnell - for the Green party - had an uphill battle given the Green Party's published motorcycle policy. After being wrong-footed by the first question in the debate he never really regained the audience's support, despite agreeing that the EU needs to overhauled. In post-hustings discussions however he was like many other Green candidates - entirely open to the use of motorcycles as practical, efficient transport and in favour of revising the policy, which is considered to be out of date. He even signed up for MAG membership!
Following this and similar events MAG members have been working with the Green Party to get their policy updated, highlighting once again that politicians of all backgrounds are open to positive discussion and ideas.
All in all a very interesting and informative evening in the last week's run up to the 2015 General Election.
2016 sees Bristol's Mayoral election - we'll be back to give the candidates a grilling on why the Bristol "vision" doesn't even mention motorcycles, and what they're going to do about it. Make sure you join us!!
The Air Balloon is a prominent start location for a ride-out and as the bikes rolled in there was quite a bit of interest from passing bikers and public alike.
With Alice & Paul fashionably late and Ed's harley fashionably refusing to start we got away just after 11.
It was an easy ride up the A38 in glorious sunshine, only needing the one junction marked as we turned off towards Halmore, arriving in Purton just before the bridge was raised for a narrowboat.
"The Pub" is a timewarp of a place, run by a local farmer and only open part of the year. The tiny bar serves excellently kept Wickwar Bob and a basic but hearty ploughmans lunch.
With a half-pound of cheese a few of us needed to walk it off and took a stroll up the canal towards the Purton Hulks - old concrete barges from World War II, be>All in all a lovely way to spend Easter Sunday and definitely one to repeat.
A big thanks to everyone who came along to the quiz and made it such a great night. With 13 teams the event raised a brilliant £69 for the MAG fighting fund!
It was a close contest with little separating the lowest and highest scores, the Blackhawks MCC team emerging victorious
Special thanks must go to Dennis for creating the quiz, offering it for an event and hosting it too!
Thanks also to Morpheus Motorcycles for providing the prizes and Kay Gibson for helping to make it all happen.
I am personally indebted to Tony, without whom I would still have been sitting on the ring-road with a poorly bike at 10pm. That SV hasn't let me down in 8 years, talk about poor timing...
With all those thanks I'm certain I owe a few people a pint - see you at the next event!