‘I’ve never seen such an outpouring of love’: My 300-mile road trip in memory of Hairy Bikers’ Dave Myers

Hairy Biker star Si King and event organiser Jason 'Woody' Woodcock at the start of the Dave Day motorbike ride
Hairy Biker star Si King and event organiser Jason 'Woody' Woodcock at the start of the Dave Day motorbike ride - Clara Molden for The Telegraph
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The Ace Cafe, just off the North Circular in northwest London, was a sea of black leather and colourful Hawaiian shirts on Saturday morning, as an estimated 2,500 bikers prepared to set off on a commemorative 300-mile ride.

Named “Dave Day” in honour of the late Hairy Biker Dave Myers, there was a jovial atmosphere as Si King, Myers’ best friend and fellow Hairy Biker, and Jason “Woody” Woodcock, a friend and the event’s organiser, commemorated a “national treasure”.

“He would be loving this,” says Woodcock. “He’d think it’s absolutely hilarious what we’re doing.” Woodcock was speaking ahead of the remembrance procession from London to Myers’ hometown of Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria.

Popular biker's hangout the Ace Café was the starting point for the ride
Popular biker's hangout the Ace Café was the starting point for the ride - Clara Molden for The Daily Telegraph

One half of the Hairy Bikers duo, Myers died in February at the age of 66, an event which struck a chord among the nation. For 20 years Myers and King were ever-present on our televisions: their warm friendly banter, accessible recipes and enthusiastic journeys across the globe were smash hits, with more than 30 television series and some 30 cookbooks.

Myers and King
Myers and King's cookery shows were instant hits thanks to the duo's down-to-earth nature - Heathcliff O'Malley

The biking community welcomed them with open arms. A few weeks after Myers’ death, his widow Liliana Orzac, together with Woodcock and King, decided to organise the commemorative ride, expecting only a few hundred to join.

Within weeks, 27,000 had signed up to the event’s Meta (formerly Facebook) page, with £30,000 raised for the charities NSPCC Childline and The Institute of Cancer Research, by the time the ride began.

On Saturday morning, thousands turned out at the starting point – the Ace Café, a legendary biker’s hangout since the 1950s. Many had travelled a great distance – one had driven down from Barrow. As many as 20,000 were expected to join en route, meeting the group at pit stops including Oxford and the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull.

“Something like this won’t happen again,” said Alan Standley, who travelled from Northamptonshire to take part, along with his friend Thain Burns, from Milton Keynes. Both were dressed in colourful Hawaiian shirts, in honour of Myers’s famously flamboyant attire.

“He had an affinity with bikers,” adds Burns. “I watched them on TV. It was two guys, travelling the world together, we’re all like that. The weather’s perfect, the stars have aligned.”

Si King stops for a break at the National Motorcycle Museum near Birmingham
Si King stops for a break at the National Motorcycle Museum near Birmingham - Andrew Fox

Mark Bayford and his partner, Susan Allen, left at 6am to travel from Hertfordshire to take part in the ride, although they were only planning to do half the journey. “We’ve got kids at home,” says Bayford. He was at pains to stress how the Hairy Bikers exemplified the good-natured, welcoming biking community. “We’re not hooligans. Riding is good for mental health and wellbeing.”

“You don’t see car drivers doing this,” he adds.

The Hairy Bikers’ down-to-earth nature was a reason given by many when asked why they joined the ride. “They were so relatable,” said Ashley Ferno. The words “Have a Dave Day” – the day’s motto – were printed on the back of his shirt. “Hopefully it’ll be a good ride, a good tribute, and raise a lot of money for charities.”

At 8am, after cups of tea and sausage baps, the bikers started beeping and revving their engines in a communal roar, before the convoy snaked onto the North Circular as the sun shone on London. Everything from Harley Davidsons to scooters and three-wheelers were present, many with stickers bearing Myers’ face, some flying British flags. “A national treasure and a wonderful day combined,” said Mark Wilsmore, managing director of the Ace Cafe.

The bikers in the Ace Café
'You don't see car drivers doing this': The bikers fuel up for the journey in the Ace Café - Clara Molden for The Telegraph

On bridges along the M40 and M42, family, friends and well-wishers waved at the convoy, some unfurling banners reading “Have a Dave Day”. Woodcock was blown away by the reaction to the event.

Woodcock met Myers around seven years ago, when he joined a group of bikers called Sons of Royalty. “It’s a group of music and TV industry people, invite only, and we go to America and Canada once a year, and ride across different areas, and raise money for Childline,” he said.

The pair quickly struck a friendship, bonding over their love of rock music. “What you saw on telly, that’s exactly how he was in real life, if not funnier,” says Woodcock. “The pair together bounced off each other, and cooked together on charity rides. I think that’s why so many people feel touched.”

Family, friends and well-wishers gathered to cheer on the bikers
Family, friends and well-wishers gathered to cheer on the bikers - Andrew Fox

The crowds swelled as they approached Barrow. King and Woodcock were the first to reach it at 3.45pm.

All along the A590 people gathered on roadside verges and roundabouts, and on Abbey Road, the route’s entry into the town, thousands lined up – the outpouring of love for Myers was evident.

Soon the atmosphere was carnivalesque, with live music playing and pubs full. Sandra Baker, who lives in Barrow – her home just a few streets away from Myers’ – was in high spirits. “I knew Dave – you would always see him in town, smiling. He was very talkative,” she says. “It’s a great atmosphere, people have come from all over to show their support.”

Some bikers welled up when speaking about Myers. Brian Jones, who had organised a group to join the procession at Knutsford, explains: “I just wanted to pay my respects to such a lovely bloke. I’d never met him but he’s somebody you’d want to be friends with.

“I’ve never seen such an outpouring of love for somebody many people have never met.”

A fitting send off for one of Britain’s most beloved TV personalities. As one rider put it, in a slogan on their jumper: “What a difference a Dave makes.”

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