‘The road is long; With many a winding turn…’ (He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother – The Hollies).
How very apposite for my ride from Derby to Monsal Head. Well, I say ‘my ride’, but it was, in fact, with 74 other bikers. Yep. 74. Split into groups, which was no doubt fortunate for other road users on the day.
And that day in question was when Royal Enfield held its global ONE RIDE 2023 event. In the UK alone, 41 dealerships took part, an amazing accomplishment, gathering together Enfield riders from across the country to join together for a series of local rides in celebration of the joy of ‘Pure Motorcycling’. The event showcased the brand’s continued support for Treedom, its official charity partner, to help raise awareness of the initiative of tree planting and reforestation.
I was invited to attend one of the marquee rides, that being from this year’s flagship dealership, Derby-based Bob Minion. Essentially, marquee rides embrace challenging regions and allow riders to experience a unique journey. The ride was certainly memorable for me, travelling roads I had not been on before, on a bike I had never ridden before.
The hugely popular Himalayan has seen it clock up decades of expeditions, traversing tens of thousands of miles of some of the most challenging terrain imaginable. But then despite its association with the mountains, this machine is not simply a one-trick pony, as it continues to be marketed as a dual-purpose motorcycle, being versatile, adaptable and tough.
In the dealer car park I found myself surrounded by Super Meteor 650s, Scram 411s, Classic 350s, Meteors, Interceptor 650s, Continenetal GTs and Himalayans. I was introduced to my ride, a 2023 Himalayan in Dune Brown (sort of camo style). With its 800mm seat height and nicely positioned footpegs and handlebars, I immediately felt comfortable with the pleasing upright riding position.
Without doubt, Royal Enfield continues to produce retro-style bikes at an excellent price point in an increasingly competitive market, but there is more to this story, as I was to discover at the dealership. Speaking to fellow riders, it very quickly became clear that Royal Enfield engenders a wonderfully engaging community spirit. There was a true sense of family and belonging amongst riders, all gathered to enjoy a day of group riding along a designated route of 45 miles which incorporated marvellous, winding country roads from Derby to Monsal Head, where we stopped for lunch at the Monsal Head Hotel, with expansive views of the outstanding dales scenery, including from the car park a bird’s-eye view of the iconic Monsal Headstone Viaduct, the third most visited attraction in the Peak District.
Lunch was followed by a presentation from Enfield UK Technology Centre development worker Dean Coxson, who chatted about his trip two years ago to the South Pole on, what else, a Himalayan.
As the brand noted on its website: ‘Whether you ride solo or with friends or with motorcycle clubs, there’s unity in the thought that we’re all riding together on this One Day in September across countries on our One Planet.’ As it transpired, 28,000 Enfield owners came together from across the globe.’
One of those was a lady named Roxy, who had taken a three-hour ride from London to Derby on a Scram 411, because her local dealership had cancelled the rideout due to predicated heavy rain in the south. In white leather jacket, white adventure-style helmet and tinted goggles, we were in the group riding to Monsal Head and back, the latter ride taking us through Matlock past the dozens of bikers enjoying the cafés on the main drag. Back at Bob Minion, I asked Roxy about the blacked-out tattoo sleeve on her left arm. “Originally I had tattoos of coloured flowers, but I didn’t like them so had them covered over.” That must have proved a painful experience, but being a tattoo artist herself, Roxy clearly took the discomfort in her stride, no doubt as she probably did not due to the Scram seat, but for the long return ride to London in what looked like increasingly inclement weather, where she was intent on enjoying a beer at The Bike Shed when she arrived back on home turf.
With over 420 rides worldwide, 223 European rides, and 41 rides from the UK, I would call that a resounding success. Good on you, Royal Enfield.