Magna Carta Rally
1st MAG Freedom Run - 27th June 1986
Nowadays, MAG's stand on the helmet laws can be seen as 'quaint'. EU Remainers are continually being told 'you lost - get over it', but the refusal of a minority of motorcyclists to wear helmets was just ignored by other bikers and only noticed by police. Back in the 80s it was still a relevant issue, so MAG decide to have a highly political demonstration, based around the location seen as the foundation of English democracy. (I use 'English' on purpose here.)
I didn't feel like camping at this one, due to the fact it was so close to home, (10 miles), and I had returned from Shetland only a few days before, and I was working overtime at the weekend to make up my money.
The rally element was in Kempton Park Racecourse and there was a run on the Saturday to the Magna Carta monument, down near Runnymede next to the Thames. After speeches regarding helmets and daytime headlights were made, a holiday mood took over, and dozens of bikers decided to make use of the very hot day and went skinny-dipping in the river. I can't remember if we were asked to stop it, but it only lasted a couple of hours anyway.
We made our own way back to the Racecourse, but the weather remained hot, and several girls of my acquaintance preferred to go shirtless for the rest of the afternoon. When I considered I had enough photos of them, I went wandering about the site and met Dave Richmond, who had reported my accident to the outside world back at the end of the previous year, and thanked him for his few kind words. The beer & food suppliers were in the grandstand, so that is where most of the activity was concentrated later on.
In the evening, 'Dumpy's Rusty Nuts' were greatly appreciated, as were the dozen-or-so women still wishing to remove clothing, even though the temperature had dropped considerably.
After them, 'Engine' took over and were also favourably received. At the start of their set, the band play a single chord, then congratulate each other on it, and usually shake the hands of a few audience members as well. In this venue, there was a hefty fence between us and them, but one guy still leapt over it and went up and completed their usual joke. On the way back a few of the security personnel 'had a word' with him. I hope nothing serious occurred. After the music wound down, I made my way back home.
Thursday July 3rd 1986
LOOK - NO HELMETS!
Motorbikers stage mass protest ride
Motorcyclists staged a massive protest on Sunday when they rode from Runnymede to Kempton Park without wearing crash helmets.
More than 1000 bikes and 1500 riders were on the "freedom run" organised by the Motorcycle Action Group.
The convoy set out from Kempton Park where the Motorcycle Action Group's members had been taking part in a rally since Friday. They rode out to Runnymede to mark the signing of the Magna Carta. Their ride back without protective head gear was to commemorate the reason for the founding of the group in 1973 - the government legislation making the wearing of crash helmets compulsory - and fears that it may become a law for motorcyclists to have their headlights on in daytime.
"We know the Government is proposing to include motorcyclists driving with headlights on in the Highway Code." said MAG national secretary Neil Andrews. "We feel that once it is in there it is only one step away from becoming law, We are against the proposal because we think it is shifting the responsibility for road accidents onto the motorcyclists."
He added: "When they are out on the road it is the responsibility of everyone to look where they are going. Before it does become law we want to nip it in the bud."
MAG members still feel strongly about crash helmets being compulsory. "We don't say no helmets, but we think there should be freedom of choice." said Mr Andrews.
By Paul Pickett
We were reported, almost accurately, in a local paper a few days later.
- Phil (the Spill) Drackley