Why we created Woodcote Events
The birth of premium motorcycle experiences
Posted on Thu 3 Mar 2022 · by Gareth Bright
To give you an idea of why I wanted to create Woodcote Events, I need to take you back in time. As with every story regarding how a business was founded, my journey demonstrates how it all led to me coming up with the idea of wanting to offer ‘premium motorcycle experiences’.
I got my motorcycle licence over 20 years ago. Funnily enough, it was my colleague Jo who got me into motorcycling in the first place, when we were about 20 years old. She had caught the ‘two wheel’ bug, having jumped on the back of a friend’s sports bike and loving it. We both took our test at the same time and went on to following BSB, WSBK and MotoGP championships, including weekend camping at UK circuits, and developing a love for motorbikes and motorsport. I haven’t looked back since.
Photo: Me with my first 'big' bike in 2002. A Honda CBR600F.
My passion for motorcycles turned into a career. Having done a short stint in a high street bank I moved into motorcycle finance, which saw me traveling up and down the country, working with dealerships. More recently I have spent the past 15 years at Triumph Motorcycles Ltd, where one of my roles was Customer Experience Manager. I focussed on inspiring reasons for customers to ride their bikes, with part of my role including working with motorcycle tour and travel operators. Getting a real understanding of what motorcycle enthusiasts want and how they enjoy their time on their bikes was something that only fed my interest and inspired me to climb up the ladder within the company.
I eventually became the Global Events Manager at Triumph and, for the past 6 years, I’ve been organising model launches and reveals for the global motorcycle press. My job was to create an experience for the world’s press, to test ride new Triumph models in various countries so they would (hopefully) write glowing reviews about the bikes. I oversaw planning the whole experience. This included picking the roads and routes we’d take them on, booking flights, organising a fleet of bikes to be transported to various countries on an arctic lorry, managing the entire team, organising schedules and itineraries, and selecting the stunning hotels we would put the press up in.
Photo: One of my first press rides for the Thunderbird, in Mallorca, March 2014.
The motorcycle press are regularly invited to model launches and test rides by all the major manufacturers so, as I got stuck into the role, I wanted our events to stand out against the competition. I developed the concept of inviting well known racers from the world of motorcycling, and celebrities, musicians and influencers to accompany the press on their test rides. The racers work as lead and tail riders, allowing the bike to be demonstrated on some of the most renowned biking routes and roads in the world. They were also great at socialising with the journalists in the evenings, which was a fantastic way for the press to get closer to some of their motorcycling heroes.
Photo: Me on Gary Johnson's winning Isle of Man TT winning bike in August 2015, at Donington. He let me to do a parade lap on it!
I loved my job. It was a dream job for me, and I was good at it!
Cut to 2019 and one of the worst years of my life. I had a near fatal crash in June. Let me be clear, it wasn’t my fault! That has been proven. A skip lorry didn’t see me and turned into my path, which caused me to smack into the side of it. Luckily, I had the best care from the NHS and the thought of my children kept me going. I am as recovered as best I can be now, but I do have some life changing injuries. Nothing, however, that stopped me getting back on a bike and doing what I love best.
Photo: Me doing a track day at Silvestone in 2015 (years before my accident).
When COVID hit the UK I had time to reflect on the past few years and my longer term ambitions. I had a chance to think about what was important to me. I had also made some good friends through my work and, during conversation with BSB rider, Dan Linfoot, it soon became apparent that I wanted to try something for myself and start a new challenge.
Photo: Visiting Steve Parrish while I was working in Mallorca, June 2018.
After lots of discussions during lockdown, we soon realised that the types of experiences I had been organising for the press weren’t readily available to the public. We both enjoy riding our bikes in other countries and having a full tour or track experience. We identified an opportunity to push the boundaries with motorcycle holidays. Ultimately the goal is to offer the same premium experience to anyone who loves to ride their own bike in stunning locations across the world, and who want to meet some of their racing heroes, for a fully exclusive experience that is hard to come by. The added benefit is that we will organise everything, including bike transportation, making it easy and stress free for our clients. Although it is being done on 4 wheels, with the likes of supercar experiences, no one else seems to be offering it on 2 wheels.
Photo: Me with James Toseland and Neil Hodgson, at theTriumph Moto2 engine launch in August 2018.
I’ve been a biker for over 20 years and been very privileged to have the opportunity to visit amazing locations and ride some of the best roads in the world, as part of my job. I now want to share these adventures with other motorcycle enthusiasts, so it felt like the right time to give this idea a go and start the business up. We’ve got a lot of ideas and a great team to deliver these experiences, so we’re excited about the future.
Photo: Me with Nick O'Malley from Arctic Monkeys and Ryan Jenkinson from Reverend and the Makers, in Portugal December 2018. They are now great friends of mine.