Bankstone’s marathon monkeybike fundraiser Monkey Business took place over the weekend of 18th-19th September. It went a bit like this:

At 9am-ish a dozen riders and support crew formed up outside Bankstone’s Brighouse offices, posing gamely for press photographers from the Brighouse Echo and Huddersfield Examiner. Kerry Garner from Yorkshire Air Ambulance waved the convoy off as it set out on the 500-yard ride to Websters Insurance round the corner.

Who were these dedicated men and women?

Riders included Bankstone’s Dickon Tysoe mounted on a Gorilla, Bikesure’s Matt Sopp, Lee Boughen, Tom Lake and Grant Vernham (black monkeys), BLD’s Clay Moule (Super Gorilla) and Mike McMillan (tartan-seated shopper), Denis Wakefield of Bott & Co, Colin Waterman (riding the big monkey), Jon Fawcett (black-seat shopper), Nick Chalkley on the Motorbelle chrome monkey and Matt Dakin and Louis Blenkiron alternating on the PMG monkey.

The support team included lead car driver Martyn Buchan of Copart, Graeme Hills of PMG – driving the PMG van and dressing up as YAA mascot Bernie the Bear, the Bikesure van driven by whoever wasn’t riding, the Bott and Co Range Rover carrying Paul Hinchliffe, Susan Luya and Will and Archie Hinchliffe (9 year old Archie was a champion charity collector, telling passers by he only accepted notes!), the Bott and Co Passat containing lovely ladies Laura Curbishley, Marie Goulbourne, Georgia Cross, Laura Higginbotham and Katie Race, and the BLD support vehicle carrying Chris Bennison and family, fuel and 2 spare bikes.

Assorted members of this party proceeded to block the pavement in front of Websters and accept a generous donation from Jez while bucket-bearing fundraisers worked the puzzled crowd for cash.

Next stop (19 miles in) was Keighley’s Colin Appleyard motorcycles, where manager Kevin looked on nervously as Bernie lurched about between the ranks of shiny new bikes.

Interrupted only by a minor spill involving Bankstone’s Dickon Tysoe, a sharp corner and some diesel (he claims), the flotilla rode on to the Cow and Calf car park on Ilkley Moor..

where charity buckets were brandished and some of Mrs Tysoe’s excellent flapjacks consumed. Thence down the hill to Ilkley’s Moto Strada motorcycle dealership (31 miles in) where further refreshments and another generous donation were offered.

Next stop (48 miles in) was NCi’s plush new Harrogate offices, losing the first broken down bike along the way (BLD’s gorilla). NCi’s Neil, Craig, Richard and assorted staff provided a warm welcome, a lavish lunch, and even allowed one of the bikes up in the lift.

Fully refreshed, the convoy headed north across more spectacular scenery to arrive at a rendezvous with Simon Bailes accident repair centre in Northallerton (99 miles) kindly arranged by Dave Rathmell.

At this point Bankstone’s man of mystery Andy Jones arrived to bestride the remaining spare monkey, with BLD’s Clay swapping over to assume traffic marshalling duties on the BLD Bandit.

The route to overnight stop Scarborough took in the notoriously steep climb up Sutton Bank, where, reduced to a crawl by slow-moving goods vehicles in his path, Andy Jones enlivened proceedings with an impromptu(and quite possibly unintentional) legs-down wheelie type manoeuvre on the back-heavy uphill-tilted tartan seated shopper.

The bikers nipped past wheezing lorries to complete the winding ascent long before the support vehicles, reforming at the top to breeze down into Scarborough via a quick fuel stop in Helmsley. 169 miles completed on day one.

Bott man Malcolm Crompton joined the party for Saturday evening’s carousing and was determined to get on the Bott and Co monkey the next day despite being unbooted and leatherless.

Andy Kinder took over from Chris Bennison behind the wheel of the BLD van for a second day’s riding which started wet and stayed that way.

After an aborted attempt to bother race-going bikers at Oliver’s Mount with its charity buckets, the convoy struck out south west for York and the U-Pull-It yard at Long Sutton. Dickon Tysoe had planned a rambling scenic route down picturesque single-track lanes, but after half and hour of laughing at the cold bedraggled riders ploughing doggedly through puddles and cow manure, the lead car took pity and diverted to a more direct approach.

U-Pull-It’s Dave Stansfield and John Close layed on a warm welcome and the chance to shelter briefly from the elements in their hangar-like main yard. After one last appearance in the bear suit, PMG’s Graeme and co peeled off from the party at this point and set out on the long drive home (Matt still nursing a suspected sprained wrist sustained in colliding with the diesel-stricken Mr Tysoe on Saturday.)

212 miles in at this point, most of the bikes were suffering rain-induced electrical gremlins, loose chains and even looser fixtures and fittings, requiring almost constant attention along the way.

Heading down towards central Leeds via Elvington a sodden Malcolm Crompton – riding in trainers without socks – changed down by mistake and took a spectacular unintended short cut across fields. Meanwhile the tartan-seated shopper finally packed up, giving denim-hosed Andy Jones a welcome excuse to climb aboard the BLD van.

Arriving at Harley Davidson Leeds the party was welcomed by YAA’s Nicky DeWhytell and enjoyed lashings of hot free coffee from the showroom vending machine.

At this point Nick Chalkley and Mike McMillan loaded their bikes onto the BLD van and headed straight to Brighouse, Nick to get on the motorway back to Buckinghamshire and Mike to get the BLD BBQ fired up.

The six remaining monkeys – having now travelled 265 miles – then set off for the final stop off at Northern Assessors in Clayton West. Somewhere near the Yorkshire Post roundabout, however, Colin Waterman got separated from the party – never to be seen again.

The sun came out briefly in Clayton West (288 miles) before normal service resumed for a soggy last leg back to Brighouse.

BLD’s highly professional barbeque was a welcome conclusion to the proceedings, with Mike and Andy working wonders with the their burgers, beer and sausages.

Dickon Tysoe concluded: “We’ve covered 301 miles along on some of Yorkshire’s finest roads, through some outstanding scenery (when we could see it through the rain), for a great cause. We collected £550 in cash and cheques over the weekend and we well over half way to our £10,000 target. Now let’s see if we can go the whole way!”

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