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Cole powered motorcycle missionary

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From the moment eight-year-old Henry Cole was welcomed into his great-great-uncle’s shed and ran his fingers through the dust on the tanks of the assembled old BSAs and Triumphs, he had a mission.

As he pauses between the latest round of filming for one of the trio of television programmes hosted in his unobtrusive ‘guy next door’ style, he can still smell the musty cocktail of grease, oil and sweat.

“It was very evocative, and to this day still makes me quiver at the memory of anticipation at what that stable of half-built British bikes might one day become when they were fully restored,” he says.

The bolt-hole shed was old Uncle Dick Redbeard’s laboratory, a mystical place where magic happened. But with Henry’s father being far less enamoured by the lure of two wheels, motorcycles were put on the back burner.

In his rebellious teens, when not confronting authority at English public school Eton, the self-confessed ‘black sheep of the family’ professed his love for bikes. The rest is well-documented and increasingly popular television history.

Now a writer, adventurer and presenter of World’s Greatest Motorcycle Rides (Travel Channel Worldwide) and The Motorbike Show (ITV4), he takes a schoolboy-type thrill in the fact that his mission born that day in the dusty shed has been achieved.

And it’s that self-effacing manner, passion for riding and, above all, appeal to riders and non-riders alike that has seen viewer figures surge towards the million mark in the 21st series of World’s Greatest Motorcycle Rides.

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