Winning hearts and minds - and picking up a high-profile fan along the way - proved to be all in a day's work for the South Somerset and South West MX clubs.
Supported by the MC Federation and Wheeldon Farm, the clubs joined forces on Thursday for an open day aimed at exposing a mainstream audience to the joys of off-road riding. Advertising the event in the local area resulted in just shy of 100 youth and adult riders taking them up on the offer and the new recruits were joined by actor Shobna Gulati - better known as Coronation Street's Sunita - who added a touch of showbiz glamour to the occasion.
Wheeldon, which recently affiliated to the MCF while still being involved in its other activities, laid on the instructors for the day with former World Superbike champ Troy Corser - a regular teacher at the fabulous indoor venue at Totnes in Devon - rolling up his sleeves and pitching in.
“What a great day we’ve had” commented Mike Smith, South Somerset club chairman. “To see so many new people getting to grips with off-road bikes, hopefully the day will have generated some new interest in the sport for the future.”
Riders were issued full safety kit and instructed on the days procedures by the MCF’s Roy Barton and Fuchs Silkolene’s Terry Wicks prior to their first assessment by the coaching staff on the training track. All of the riders then progressed to get a full session on the main indoor track where an array of bikes from 50cc automatic Suzukis to the new TE125 Husqvarnas were in use.
“It’s great being involved in days like this," says MCF General Manager Roy Barton. "There's nothing more satisfying than seeing a new rider get off the bike after their first experience with a huge grin on their face! A big thanks to all at the South Somerset and South West clubs as well as to Wheeldon for making the day happen. And what a bonus for us to have Troy on hand and having him working with the riders all day.”