Nearly 2,000 motorbike fanatics were left overjoyed when legendary racer Carl Fogarty made a surprise visit to their free weekly village meet-up.
‘Foggy’, a four-time World Superbike champion, is still adored by an army of loyal supporters after becoming one of Britain’s most popular sporting figures in the 1990s.
And many were left grinning from ear to ear when they got the chance to unexpectedly rub shoulders with him in Old Buckenham, Norfolk, on Tuesday.
“I come every week, it’s my local place to come for a meet. It’s great to meet new faces and, obviously, you never know who might turn up,” said Carl Thomas, 41, from Norwich.
“It’s great Foggy was here. They’re all heroes, he’s a rider isn’t he so he’s a hero. I’m a biker so they all are. I let him do his thing, I’m not one of these who would jump all over him. He’s got more than enough people.”
Steve Kingston-Miles, better known as Bumble, also made the near 20-mile trip from the city to the popular Two-Wheel Tuesday gathering hosted by the Ox & Plough pub.
“I got a sneaky photo with him,” he laughed.
“I didn’t know he was coming. I came up because I thought he (friend, Carl Thomas) might be here and he said: ‘Foggy’s coming’ and I was like ‘is he?’ We were looking for him and obviously we found him. I wasn’t sure what I was going to say to him, I didn’t have a clue – probably ‘you came in the van didn’t you?’
“I am surprised to see him in Norfolk. I’ve never met him before but I have seen him race.”
The Blackburn-based superbike icon, who won I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! in 2014, was in Norfolk on business catching up with North Lynn-based Bikesure – the motorcycle insurance broker he has been brand ambassador for since 2012.
The one-time King of the Jungle said: “It was a fantastic evening and an amazing turnout of bikes.
“The weather was amazing, it’s a great free event. I’ve been to quite a few bike meetings over the years, but I’ve never seen anything like that one before. It was a huge turnout.
“I was mucking in, flipping a few burgers and pulling a few pints, and if I’m ever down in Norfolk again I’ll definitely be calling in on the Ox & Plough on a Two-Wheel Tuesday.”
Visiting the popular event on the village green also gave him the opportunity to catch up with his long-time friend Martin Williams. When the 62-year-old got married, Foggy’s wife Michaela was the maid of honour.
“I’m used to walking around with him in places and us getting stopped,” joked the former Blackburn native who relocated to Stiffkey.
“It’s better than it used to be, it was manic in the 90s. But I still rip Foggy when it happens. We used to have a laugh by me pretending to take photos for fans and actually just taking a load of selfies – and one picture of the person with Carl obviously. It was nice to catch up and see some bikes, including the Ducati he made a short trip on to arrive. I hadn’t seen him for six months and it’s always great to catch up, he’s a top bloke.”
Two-Wheel Tuesday has been running since 2013 and was the brainchild of former pub landlord Ben Devlin. Current proprietor, Dave Tranmer, has overseen the event as it continues to flourish and attract thousands of bikers and non-riders alike from the first Tuesday in April until the end of October.
Mr Tranmer said: “We’ve never had anyone as famous as Carl Fogarty here before. It was a privilege to have him here and that he was even interested to come. It just proves how popular Two-Wheel Tuesday is. He had a great night as far as I’m concerned, it was a pleasure to have him.
“There were 1,200 bikes here, which equates to about 1,800 people on the green. It gets bigger and bigger every year. Bikers love it, most of the village love it – there’s a few that don’t, but what can I do? I try and keep it as peaceful and friendly as I can.
“It’s so popular because it’s on the village green. We give them a variety of food, a variety of drinks and there’s never any trouble. There’s loads of places to park and I think it’s in an area where the public can come to the green, have a great night and look at bikes – and bikers love people looking at their bikes. It’s just a great, peaceful evening to be honest.”
Bikesure was there to capture his shock appearance and put together a short heartwarming 90-second video that you can watch here: