Traffic chaos in North Yorkshire!! – (Unless you are on a motorbike)

What happens when 212 vintage tractors leave a field on a Bank Holiday Sunday morning for a 50-mile round trip of the local villages in Yorkshire.

The Beadlam Tractor Run started over 10 years ago and takes place every May to raise money for Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Local TRF (Trail Riders Fellowship) groups get involved to help with marshalling and traffic control since motorbikes are the only sensible way to get around. If you’re in a car and meet the tractors you’re pretty much stuck there for 40 minutes while the procession comes through. People come out to watch and cheer and chuck money into the collection tins. There is a lot of waving, especially by small children. It is a very jolly event.

The local Trail Riders Fellowship help out

This year, the West Yorkshire TRF sent 6 pairs of riders. The usual KTMs, Hondas and Yamahas that the guys use for trail riding were left at home today and the big bikes got a chance to show their petticoats. The KTM 950 Adventure, Tenere Desert Racer, Ducati Monster and Honda Varadero 1000 were all present, looking resplendent as we assembled at the start. It was extra exciting as the bright yellow Yorkshire Air Ambulance helicopter flew over the field and landed with a massive, grass-flattening down draft.


Some of the tractors of the Beadlam Tractor Run

My partner for the day, Haich, had sussed out the route and planned some off-road detours between marshalling points just to keep us amused. Riding a motorbike on the road is good, but riding a motorbike on a trail is what really makes me smile. We took in Beadlam Rigg, Skiplam Woods and some easy tracks north of Kirkbymoorside before getting to our next checkpoint. As we waited for the tractors, a bunch of teenagers doing Duke of Edinburgh award shuffled past arguing about the route they should take. Little did they know, they were about to be engulfed by the combined diesel fumes of over 200 tractors.

Next up

The ford at Yoadwath, which means ‘Dark River’ in ancient Celtic. The tractors were taking in this river crossing, which presents no problem if you head directly to the opposite bank and then swing left to run alongside the bank to the exit ramp. It’s all about the line. That’s OK for the tractors then. On a motorbike, it’s also about keeping momentum and speed to deal with the underwater rocks. I was impressed when Haich crossed it on his Honda CRF XR 400 and got nothing worse than wet boots. I chickened out. Not only was the lengthy crossing quite deep, there was also a phalanx of spectators ranged along the footbridge and an unending stream of tractors bearing down behind. No thanks.

A Honda Varadero

A Honda Varadero

At Spaunton, the whole show stopped for lunch in a barn. Filled with tables laden with pies, sandwiches, cakes and tarts. Tractor drivers like carbs. Then down to Lastingham which is a very popular tourist spot. Where the collection tins got a good boost from the visitors.

Yorkshire Air Ambulance

Yorkshire Air Ambulance

To get to our next checkpoint. We had to share the narrow lane with the tractor procession and overtake them at any opportunity. There was one sticky moment. When the driver of a huge Ford leant down to get his walkie-talkie and swung the steering wheel at the same time. Just as Haich was passing him. He managed to swerve onto the verge just in time! Happily, there weren’t any accidents on the day. It was a great success with thousands of pounds being raised for Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Proper Bank Holiday stuff!


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