Euro Festival, Port de Grimaud, Golfe de St Tropez, France

22nd-25th May 2008

Men in Pink

A while ago Peter ‘Scottie’ Scott contacted the road crews of C&F and Meridian H.O.G. chapters asking on behalf of H-D Europe for assistance with tagging at the second Euro Festival. The deal was for flights and accommodation in exchange for three days and one afternoon on ones feet, checking entry tickets and tagging riders, pillions and motorcycles entering one of Europe’s premier H-D events for 2008. It was very likely that there’d be hot sunny weather in a beautiful seaside location, surrounded by thousands of enthusiasts celebrating the H.O.G. lifestyle. It was tough, but eventually we succumbed to persuasion and were enticed to take part. The team: Steve Beauchamp, Les Channing, Tony Dowden, Nick Franklin, Michael Howers, Steve Hush, Mick Lewis, Dave Mann, Andrew Papas, Andy Pownall-Gray and Peter Scott.

Actually Scottie, Steve ‘Smiley’ Beauchamp and Andy Pownall-Gray did ride down. The rest of us rendezvoused at Gatwick on Wednesday morning ready to submit to the uncertain pleasures of ‘easyJet’.

Why us? As far as we were concerned, we had been given a trusted role and we were determined to do a proper job. So first stop was the staff briefing, given by Nigel Villiers in person. We were to be accommodated in mobile homes within the Grimaud complex so we’d be on top of the action all weekend. Only bombshell was the announcement that it had been decided that the staff/volunteer tee-shirts for all to wear were to be pink. Apparently this was to ensure that we would be (a) immediately recognisable, and (b) would not be confused with security, who wore orange. It was worth it to see Scottie wearing pink!

Men in Pink

Photo: ‘Men in Pink’

Scottie had sorted out a staff rota for us with two teams of 5, working alternate shifts of 9am to 3pm and 3pm to 9pm, when security took over tagging. The deal was this: on arrival at the rally site, new arrivals were shepherded into a holding area (about the size of three football pitches) where they were meeted and greeted by us. If they had a ticket, then they and their bike were tagged and sent on their way into the site - if not they were sent on foot to the ticket sales kiosk and on return with their valuable piece of paper the tagging event occurred. It was essential that every entry ticket was logged by the supplied bar-code readers, and that the number on a rider tag matched exactly the number on the bike tag, otherwise on attempting to leave the complex difficult and exacting questions would be asked by security, with immediate backup from France’s finest, the gendarmerie and police who were on hand 24/7.

The only language that completely beat us was Turkish, even the Czechs attending had a fair smattering of German or English and were willing to make do with sign-language and good humour. Some of the French attendees were surprised that French HOG chapters hadn’t been asked to do the job, but generally people seemed very happy to have arrived and just wanted to get on with enjoying themselves. We heard many tales of 600 kilometres of unremitting rain!

Attendance was around 9,500 over the four days, so we were usually very busy. Initial reports are that no bikes were stolen, good news all round.

Grimaud Custom Show

As far as the festival itself went, it was good stuff - trade tents, dealer displays, ‘exposition’ of new H-Ds and Buells, ride-outs, test rides, custom bike shows, stunt displays, live bands, merchandise, mechanical assistance by H-D etc.

Photo: Grimaud Custom Show

Highlights of ‘La Vie dans le Rose’ included the ride-in custom show held in the beautiful hill-top village of Grimaud itself, and the instigation of the legend that became ‘Arthur’s Bar’, where mine host Tony Dowden dispensed wisdom, hospitality and humour in between further attempts at self-immolation. Low points were the dreadful weather on Sunday and whoever tuned the guitars for the ‘Letz Zep’ tribute band.

Michael Howers - C&F Road Captain