The Dawn Patrol

20th June 2004

Dawn Patrol

“Cabbage crates over the Briny, anyone?” Strangely, we all knew exactly what (Squadron Leader) Neil ‘Chrome Banana’ Wilson-Harris was on about when the idea was hatched in the Legless Tup. The mission was simple. ‘611’ Squadron was to assemble at first light at the SW6 HQ, head through Central London towards Tower Bridge for a photo-call, then out to the ‘Comfort Café’ for breakfast before a blast through some proper English countryside for a hearty lunch.The ride to ‘611’ had been fairly bizarre. Trying to tip-toe through the streets with Screamin’ Eagles is tricky, avoiding clubbers ‘tipping out’ up the Streatham High Road, almost impossible. But I arrived at five-ish, to join a pretty impressive turnout of 17. We donned our ‘specially-made-for-the-occasion’ silk scarves, and set off into London for a rare treat. Empty roads. And I mean empty.

A few of us had attempted the ‘It’s-easier-to-stay-up-all-night-than-wake-up-that-early’ strategy, and they bowed out at this stage to return home (to be fair, a good hour away) for some well-earned kip and so we were down to a rather fitting dozen. Here’s a top tip for anyone organising a Harley ride-out. Make sure you go through a tunnel. In our case, it was Rotherhithe, which is about as good as it gets for acoustics this side of Monte Carlo on F1 weekend. As we headed out onto the M11 through Limehouse and Canning Town the sun blazing in our eyes, scarves fluttering, outnumbering all other road users by 10 to 1 it was easy to forget when and where we were!The sheer exhilaration that is an empty, sun-drenched M11 was eroded mile-by-mile by the accompanying early morning chill. So it was with not inconsiderable relief that the squadron assembled what senses they had left just north of Duxford at the Comfort Café, for a very welcome ‘full English’ and lashings of hot tea. All this and it was still only 8:30!

For various reasons, but mainly because it was Father’s Day, a few of us had to draw a line under any further fun and ‘bailed out’ after breakfast, leaving the dwindling patrol to continue across Hertfordshire for a very decent lunch.

So, if you spot a C&F HOG’ster wearing a white silk scarf, (strains of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ in the background) then he or she may well be ‘one of the few who did so much for so many...’.

Top marks to Neil and his wing man, Paul ‘Wiggie’ Wiggins, for devising and organising such a novel event. See you all next year?

Andrew Papas - C&F Road Captain