Fundraising biker died on charity ride

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A GRANDFATHER died after his trike crashed into a tree during a charity ride-out to raise money for The Rowans Hospice.

An inquest heard Brian Bowley, 72, of Woodsedge, Waterlooville, was among around 300 bikers and trikers taking part in the annual Old Fossils Classic Charity ride on a warm sunny Sunday on July 21 last year.

But tragedy struck at about 1.20pm when Mr Bowley, known as Ginge to most people, appeared to lose control while taking a sharp right-hand bend while riding north at Beacon Hill Lane at Corhampton towards Warnford.

Mr Bowley’s three-wheeled Suzuki was travelling in a convoy of five and behind him was his best friend, Gordon White, along with Mr White’s grandson, who were on a Yahama trike.

The ride started at Horndean Technology College and went to Havant and along Portsdown Hill before heading north, with Mr Bowley and his pals stopping in Wickham for lunch before continuing northwards.

Mr Bowley, who has a history of heart problems and complained of feeling breathless earlier that day, was said to be ‘happy’ as he chatted with friends at Wickham.

Mr White, from Cowplain, told the coroner’s court in Winchester they were travelling between 15mph and 20mph on what was a ‘beautiful day’.

Mr White was travelling about 30 to 40ft behind Mr Bowley’s trike as they approached the 90 degree bend.

Mr White said: ‘He seemed to brake.

‘It appeared to me that the front wheel locked up.

‘He came up out of the seat. The bike appeared to slew round to the left. He started to stand up and was coming up on the pedals. The bike spun over. I did not see where Brian went.

‘The machine hit the tree and then came straight back at me.

‘It went up the tree and then came back again.’

Mr Bowley was thrown off the bike and was lying unconscious on the ground.

Mr White injured his arm as he the trike came back at him, but his grandson was unhurt.

Mr White found a pulse and attempted to revive his friend, before another rider, Kay Steele, who is nurse, began first aid.

But by that time Mr Bowley was not breathing and no pulse could be found. About 20 minutes later the ambulance crew arrived and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Collision investigator PC Tracey Saunders, from Hampshire police, said there were no defects found in the trikes of Mr Bowley and Mr White and the road surface was not a hazard.

She said: ‘In my opinion the cause of this collision centres on the actions of the Suzuki rider who for an unknown reason has failed to negotiate the right hand bend with tragic consequences.’

Pathologist Dr Balvinder Shoker examined Mr Bowley and found broken ribs and sternum and a heart that was more than twice the size it should be for a man of his age.

Mr Bowley had undergone heart surgery before and had had two heart attacks in the past, including March of last year.

Dr Shoker said: ‘The heart disease is significant enough to cause a sudden death at any time.’

He said that the death was due to multiple injuries caused by a road traffic collision and heart disease.

‘It’s impossible to tell which was the major contributor,’ he added.

Senior coroner Grahame Short recorded a narrative verdict.

He said: ‘Something happened as he was going round the bend.

‘The fact that he stood up on the pedals, I think is also significant.

‘It’s possible this was because Brian felt the need to turn take action.

‘Or that he was distracted.

‘The description of the heart condition leads me to the strong suspicion that was the distraction he suffered - that he had very sharp pains and that was something was wrong and that was the distraction.

‘The effect was momentarily losing control of the bike.’

Mr Short said on the balance of probability that the most likely reason for him losing control was suffering a medical episode.

Mr Bowley, a retired lorry driver, was a hugely popular member of Waterlooville Motorcycle Club.

More than 100 people turned out to his funeral last August at Portchester Crematorium and a tribute rideout was held across Portsdown Hill.