'Proud' 20,000 bikers finish Dave Myers tribute ride

Thousands of motorcyclists have arrived at the end of a mammoth ride from London to Cumbria to celebrate the life of Hairy Biker Dave Myers.

The TV chef died in February, at the age of 66, after he was diagnosed with cancer.

'Dave Day' has seen a huge remembrance procession of bikers journeying from the capital to Myer's coastal home town of Barrow-in-Furness.

Organisers said some 20,000 people joined the ride up the country - with the distance between the first and last biker spanning about 25km (16 miles).

Fellow Hairy Biker Si King addressed the crowds waiting to greet the bikers and said: "Thank you. You’ve made David Myers very proud."

His words drew cheers, and Myers' widow Lili said: "Dave was always a Barrovian in his heart, he loved Barrow and he wanted to put Barrow on the map.

"And today, beyond his grave, he’s done it again."

Hairy Biker Si King at the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull
Thousands of bikers joined the Hairy Bikers' Si King to pay tribute to Dave Myers [PA Media]
Crowds watching the Si King and Lili Myers give a speech in Barrow
Si King told the crowd: "We've all been in tears, not one dry eye" [BBC]
Bikers in Barrow
Crowds of the bikers gathered at the end of the ride in Barrow [BBC]

The procession began to arrive from about 16:00 BST, waved on by thousands of people, and continued to stream into the town into the evening.

One onlooker, Marie, who watched the procession from a bridge near Burton services, around 40 miles from the finish point, said: "The atmosphere was lovely, warm and quite emotional to see so many bikers.

"We were pleased to wave them in and welcome them to our beautiful county of Cumbria."

Organisers said the service station was closed due to the sheer number of travellers.

The procession had planned to stop there for a break but instead drove straight on towards Barrow.

Another onlooker said it was an "utterly extraordinary sight" and "it took about an hour-and-a-half for the bikes to pass us from the first of the group to the last".

Si King and Dave Myers in their BBC cooking programme, The Hairy Bikers Go West
Si King (left) took part in the ride for his friend and TV partner [ South Shore Productions/PA]

As the riders set off on Saturday morning, fellow Hairy Biker Si King described it as "amazing" and a "celebration of the best friend that I've lost".

Many of those who gathered at the start point, the Ace Cafe in north London, were wearing Hawaiian shirts.

King said of the crowd: "Everybody's got that lovely Dave sartorial elegance about them, ie dodgy shirt.

"Some of them have had them specially printed, it's remarkable."

'Irritatingly positive'

He added: "You never know how these things are going to impact you. It is a celebration of Dave's life.

"That's why we're here, because he was so irritatingly positive all of the time. And we love him and that's why we're here."

Before the event, Mrs Myers said: "We have people coming from all over the country. We have people coming from Texas, from Malaysia, from all over Europe.

"Oh, it's endearing. It just helps me go through my process of grief because it just makes me feel that I'm not on my own with all this.

Jason Woodcock, who organised Dave Day, said the idea arose at Myers' funeral, for which Lili had asked him to "get a couple of bikes together".

"They got to the funeral, had a few beers as you would do, and then the idea came up during the conversation of let's do a memorial ride."

Girl waving to bikers with a sign that says '275 miles to Barrow'
People gathered along the route to cheer on the procession [BBC]

As the crowds in Barrow waited for the procession to reach them, celebrations centred around the Town Hall with performances, stalls by local vendors who have worked with the Hairy Bikers on various projects, and a service of remembrance.

The event was also raising money for NSPCC Childline and The Institute of Cancer Research, with donations being split evenly between the two charities, organisers said.

The route of the memorial ride
The route of the memorial ride with planned stop-offs [BBC]

In the run-up to the day, staff and students from Greengate Junior School in Barrow dressed up as Myers.

Those who took part sported fake beards and moustaches, as wells as a waistcoat similar to the one the chef wore.

Dylan, 10, said the moustache felt itchy, while teacher Stephen Leigh said Myers was a Barrovian treasure.

"Any sort of focus on the positives of Barrow is really, really good. And it's a marvellous place," he added.

Neil Irvin, Dylan (10), Macie (10) and Stephen Leigh from Greengate Junior School in Barrow dressed as Dave Myers
Students and staff at Greengate Junior School in Barrow dressed up as Dave Myers for their Dave Day celebrations [BBC]

People have travelled from all over the world to take part in the event.

Dawn Mayers, who is originally from Fleetwood near Blackpool, lives in Malaysia for the most of the year.

She decided to come back to the UK especially for the celebration.

"Dave died when we were in Malaysia, so we decided to light a candle for him at a local Buddhist temple.

"We've watched every episode [of the Hairy Bikers], we have every cookbook," she said.

Ms Mayers arrived in Barrow on Friday and said the atmosphere was electric.

Dawn Mayers
Dawn Mayers has flown from Malaysia to take part in Dave Day [Dawn Mayers]

Keni Carrington, 70, travelled from France on Friday and is riding the entire route to Barrow from the Ace Cafe.

Ms Carrington's husband of 35 years, Chris, who was also a biker, died last June following a cancer diagnosis.

"Chris was my soulmate and he would love to have done this ride for Dave Myers," she said.

Keni and Chris Carrington
Keni Carrington has travelled from France and is riding in memory of her late husband, Chris [Keni Carrington]

Meanwhile, riders struggling for somewhere to stay were helped out by local residents offering their spare rooms, caravans, and even their backyards.

Tim Walker offered up his garden in Askam-in-Furness for people to camp out in.

"We thought, well, we've got plenty of room [in the garden]. Got some tents and some spare rooms," he said.

Mr Walker and his wife are also planning to serve breakfast to their eight guests.

He did not want people to pay to stay on his property and asked people to "put a donation in the bucket" instead.

Tim Walker with his tent is offering to host visitors to Barrow
Tim Walker offered up his garden in Askam-in-Furness for people to camp out in [BBC]

Barrow Town councillor Dani Petrova said of Myers: "He was just a normal guy from Barrow doing us all proud.

She added she was "absolutely gobsmacked" at the reaction to Dave Day.

"The people of Barrow are what makes Barrow beautiful and Dave was one of us."

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