In the days leading up to last Saturday, fear that it might be a wash out did cause me to ask myself who’s idea this Open Day was and why we had decided to put one on in the first place. It was only on the Monday prior that I felt able to check out the weather forecast. At the beginning of the week, it predicted rain every day except the Saturday! Too close for comfort, I felt. All week, rarely did an hour go by when I didn’t check my phone. It was nerve wracking. But on Friday night the predictions changed, suggesting we might even see some sun on Saturday. I relaxed just a little. Ultimately, we got away with it; the sun gods smiled upon us!
Things kicked off earlyish Saturday morning as people started to turn up for their test rides on an electric Zero motorcycle. The guys from Zero had their busiest day ever; eventually more than 140 of our customers got out for a ride on a route that saw them take the A281 to Bramley, left into Wonersh and then back to the ranch via Shalford. Enough to get a taster of this brave new world.
Later, Zero was joined by CCM, who bought along some of their latest, exotic offerings. We count amongst our customers quite a number of existing CCM owners, but before the day was out it was clear that there were going to be quite a few more.
Alex from Auritech took over our ‘First Class’ waiting room for earplug moulding. He too had a hectic schedule. Indeed, when he wrapped it all up early in the evening, he looked completely bushed. But we will be getting together with Alex on a more regular basis. He makes a product of which all bikers should avail themselves. And we are committed to making sure that more of them do.
But this was always going to be a do that got into its stride later in the day; and so it proved to be. From two, food and drink came on stream, which is when Elspeth Beard also turned up on her original round-the-world BMW to chat and sign copies of her various books.
At about five, just as our hog roast reached the point where it could be carved and served, our man with the Lancaster Merlin started his engine up. And what a treat that was.
It was an impressive sight and an impressive sound. Everyone had their iPhone out trying to capture an image. Only later did we learn that he was only running the engine at 40% of its maximum rpm. Pretty awesome nonetheless.
After the first run, we got to enjoy a stunt show from On the Edge. The two riders, twin brothers, put on a great show, embarrassing us all with the ease with which they pulled wheelies and stoppies, and performed jumps, stunts and assorted balancing acts.
The guys from Electric Groove came on just as the the sun started to set. They were the real deal, and there’s no doubt that we will have them back at some point. The evening came to an end with a spectacular firework display that near took our breath away. Arthur from the warehouse, a part-time pyrotechnic, had set out to impress; and he succeeded. It rounded off what, in our view at least, had been a spectacular day that saw more than a thousand bikes come through the gates. Now people, and perhaps our customers in particular, tend to be polite. And so everybody we met said that they had had a great day; all we can say is that we enjoyed every minute.
Truth be told, we cannot remember why we decided to put on an Open Day in the first place. Maybe it was because the last year or so has been a bit joyless. Maybe it was because we just wanted to show that we could do it better. We don’t know; but the fun that everybody seemed to have on the day made it all seem worthwhile, whatever the reason.
Will we do something like this again? Frankly, we don’t think so. This time we got away with it, but had it rained, it would have been a disaster, and that would have been a hard pill to swallow. We’re just not sure we’re ready for that. Just this morning I woke at five to the pitter-patter of rain on my roof. It brought me out in a cold sweat imagining how I would have felt had I woken to such sounds on Saturday morning.
But that doesn’t mean that we’ll give up getting together with our customers. Right now, we are harbouring a plan to run a series of Sunday morning, Goodwood-style breakfast meets here in Guildford; first Sunday perhaps in April, May, June, July and August. We’re thinking that each one would be themed: British bikes, Jap bikes, Italian bikes, German bikes and American bikes. For each of these meets, we’d get along a number of relevant exhibitors. And we’d lay on a great breakfast, proper coffee and so on. It’s still early days, but when we do these things we like to do them properly. As you will have seen if you were there on Saturday! We’ll keep everyone apprised of developments.
Lastly, if you did come out on Saturday, we’d like to say a big thank you for your support.
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