Why you should take a Road Trip with BarbersRide
Ride it like a soldier
On 1st February 2022 artist Vincent Kamp unveiled a new portrait specially created to support BarbersRide’s chosen charity Make-A-Wish. But who is the man in the frame?
One of Britain’s most sought-after contemporary portrait painters, Vincent Kamp is famed for intense cinematic compositions. His work suggests a gritty, surreptitious urban subculture, often depicting renowned barbers and their associates, not least the Right Hand Man and his enigmatic partner-in-crime, Iain Crockart. So what’s a friendly silver-haired Yorkshireman doing sitting for Vincent on a summer afternoon at Fawcett HQ?
Rewind to the beginning of 2021. Pete MacGowan, a member of the Wakefield & District Motorcycle Action Group, was reading the membership magazine, The Road, from the back as he always does. The first thing he saw was an article about the BarbersRide.
Pete’s not a barber. But he does love to ride. In fact, since he passed his test on a BSA Bantam aged 16, Pete’s only ever had two breaks from riding motorcycles. “And the first one was because I was driving tanks,” he says. His motto "Never get separated from your kit” comes from those army days between 1965-74 when Pete served in the 13th/18th Tank Regiment of the Royal Hussars - Huzzah! Pete saw tours of duty in Aden and Northern Ireland and still meets up with his old brothers in arms even though the regiment is now disbanded.
And the second reason? “I’ve got a fake right hip and a pinned foot from when I came off my bike near Bridlington. I couldn’t ride for 18 months. The doctor said that was a hell of a way to jump the list for a new hip.”
Sleuths may detect that Pete has a good few years of adventure under his wheels. His first bike was a 1963 125 Honda Benly (it cost £190 new with £1 road tax). But ever since Pete’s been a Harley-Davidson man. He took to the road for BarbersRide on his fourth Harley-Davidson, a 1605 plate Dyna.
Every year in the third week of July he takes part in the Faro Back Street Heroes rally and he’s ridden in Spain, Belgium and Portugal but never in Scotland - until he joined BarbersRide 2021 aged 74.“I never missed a mile,” he says, “did every single one. To go on roads I’ve never been on before was fantastic. Scotland was beautiful, really breathtaking, though as we rode into Glasgow the rain was driving into our faces so bad you couldn’t see a thing.”
Does that mean he won’t be doing it again? “Oh no,” he says, “you need the challenges for the camaraderie! In the evening you’re sat there having a burger and a beer, all together and laughing and you just forget the difficult bits, the wet feet. You’re just looking forward to the next day. It’s brilliant! I’ll definitely do it again in August.”
So how you stay safe on a motorcycle in bad road conditions? “We use the second man system to keep everyone together. I'm used to riding and camping so the BarbersRide was luxury to me - to be in a hotel with a bath and real bed!”
All good! So what if you’re tempted but feeling a bit shy? “Some of the riders have done BarbersRide before but I didn’t know anyone. It didn’t matter! They’re lovely, welcoming people with the common interest of bikes. And the weather was appalling so we also had the common interest of survival! The last day is such a great feeling and there’s a WhatsApp group so we all stay in touch.”
And in a double win, Peter loved the route chosen for BarbersRide 2021 so much he did it again with his wife to show her exactly where they went. But this time they took the car…
So how on earth did all this lead to being the star of a portrait by Vincent Kamp? “I phoned Fawcett HQ about an order for badges and just said, while you’re at it, put me down for the raffle. Never thought I’d win!”
Fast forward to 1st February 2022 and the prestigious Clarendon art gallery in Mayfair, London. Vincent Kamp has worked his dramatic magic and Pete sees his likeness in oils for the first time. “Oh my god! It’s fantastic! Unbelievable! Vincent that’s fantastic! That’s made my day - it’s made my whole year! It’s not every day a normal person has their portrait painted is it? And it’s all for BarbersRide and Make-a-Wish.”
“My pleasure,” said Vincent.
And it must be said, Vincent’s latest work brilliantly captures the inner steel of this most charming, smiley gentleman of the road. Quite magnificent! And the new portrait will be hung over Pete’s mantelpiece in pride of place.
Ride safe till BarbersRide 2022 Pete!
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