It was very kind of the NEC to time the Motorcycle Show to coincide with the launch of the Wrong Way Round. Our aim was to generate some publicity, get some useful contacts and hopefully pick up some sponsorship.
Knowing that first impressions count we decided some branded t-shirts would be in order. Unfortunately we left this down to Charlie who decided some beige polo shirts from Primark with some iron on transfers would do the job. He then topped this off by applying the transfers the night before, after having been to the pub.
Despite the smell of singed cotton and burnt patches we tried to maintain an air of cool sophistication. On some occasions we were able to chat for minutes before the stand owners called security. Thinks weren’t going too well so to save face we bought some posters for £3 and retired to the bar.
A few pints and lunch later we went back out with a “what have we go to lose” attitude and decided to go for the most outrageous blags we could. Charles, not quite grasping the concept decided this meant he should try getting the most beautiful girl he could find in to a Miss Custard t-shirt. The boy did good.
Once we’d compose ourselves we set about the job in hand. Even a free keyring would have been an achievement at this point.
Tyres would be a good place to start we thought. There was not too much to choose between the manufacturers but in the end we made an informed decision to go with Continental because they had a lovely girl called Lisa on their stand whereas Michelin just had a bloke in a fat suit.
Continental also had a proven track record of sponsoring less than sane individuals since right their on the stand was Nick Sanders, the unhinged legend who holds the world speed record for circumnavigating the globe, on an R1 in a mind boggling 19 days. By contrast, if we’ve left England in that time we’ll be happy.
The deal was done and Continental agreed to supply all our tyres and inner tubes so we celebrated by going to the bar again. Meanwhile the Michelin Man took umbridge at us doing a deal with a rival and stalked us until picking the right moment to perform a “Big Daddy Splash” on Matt who tried to defuse the situation by proudly announcing that he knew the Michelin Man’s actual name was”Bibendum”. We had a sneaking suspiscion that this wasn’t in fact the real Bibendum but a brummie called Ron.
One by one we picked up more sponsors. Silkolene agreed to supply all the oil for the bikes and the Transhit. We also picked up U-tags, a USB stick that holds all your important documents and medical information on it so if anyone were to find us dead they’d at least know who were were and if we were allergic to penicillin.
Linkstrap also provide us with their alternative to the common bungee strap. We found it particularly effective for restraining Nick when he started to waffle. A few goodie bags for good measure and we were just about done. Feeling rather pleased with ourselves, we then went on a second round of Miss Custard searching. Boom.
And then one of those moments that you couldn’t have scripted any better just happened. Unbeknown to us, Charley Boorman was doing a book-signing and although we couldn’t get anywhere near for the queues, we did bump in to Russ Malkin. After a brief explanation of what we were up to he stared at us blankly for a few seconds and then gave us his business card. “Come and see us at Long Way Round HQ”.