THE DRIVE OF MY LIFE: Doncaster-born business manager’s epic biking, driving and sailing trips

Matt Chambers on his beloved Harley Davidson just outside Barcelona.

Matt Chambers on his beloved Harley Davidson just outside Barcelona.

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Matt Chambers would have loved to roll up for his new job as business manager at YMCA White Rose’s Rotherham MyPlace centre astride a Harley Davidson. But motorbikes have been banned for the Doncaster-born 45-year-old, who now sticks to four wheels.

Cars for me are boring. I only own one because we needed something to pull our caravan. It’s a 4x4 something or other.

Cars for me are boring. I only own one because we needed something to pull our caravan. It’s a 4x4 something or other.

Matt Chambers spent his 40th birthday as a sailing instructor on a Sea Cadets boat in Scotland. He's pictured arriving into Oban.

Matt Chambers spent his 40th birthday as a sailing instructor on a Sea Cadets boat in Scotland. He's pictured arriving into Oban.

I was always into motorbikes. I got my first - a little field bike - for Christmas when I was eight. I moved up to a trials bike and by my teens I was racing motocross.

Then at 17 I got a road bike, to mum’s horror. She was an A&E sister and had seen too many lads in bike accidents.

I went in the army at 17 and spent most of my time in Germany, seeing service in Iraq in the first Gulf War in 1991. I rode despatch bikes on exercise.

My best bike was a custom Harley Davidson, built specially for me.

Matt Chambers at YMCA White Rose's MyPlace in St Ann's, Rotherham, with his 4x4.

Matt Chambers at YMCA White Rose's MyPlace in St Ann's, Rotherham, with his 4x4.

My most epic ride on it was a 2, 000 mile round-trip from Doncaster to Barcelona for the Harley Davidson Centenary. It was incredible - fast, loud, big mountains, amazing corners.

But two years ago I had to sell my beloved bike at my wife Aileen’s insistence. She forbade me from riding again after my biker cousin got killed in his 30s. He had an accident late at night on his way home from work.

I’ve known around ten fellow bikers die in accidents, but this one really got to us. There is a constant reminder of his loss. We watch his wife and daughter coping with their grief. My wife doesn’t want that to be our family one day.

And there is no getting away from the fact that if you’re driving a car instead of riding a bike, it’s so much more likely that you will walk away from an accident without injury.

MyPlace on St Ann’s Road is a performance and arts centre for handicapped and able-bodied young people in Rotherham. We help kids be aware of the dangers in life, from relationships and drug-taking to riding motorbikes and driving cars irresponsibly.

I am safety-conscious, but I’m an adrenalin junkie at heart. Five years ago I packed my job to spend time delivering yachts and being more involved in youth work. My family were boating people; I knew how to sail and wanted to build up my sea miles to gain a Yachtmaster qualification. I did it for a year, in the Mediterranean and around Scotland.

The most terrifying voyage was being in a £300,000 yacht which turned upside-down in a storm at 3am. The mast ended up in the water while we were 70 miles off the coast of Sicily. We got on deck, couldn’t start the engine and as the boat righted we used our brute strength and our sailing skills to weather the storm. The waves were 50 feet high.

I’ve also experienced many brilliant journeys taking kids away on youth weekends.

But the drive I will never forget wasn’t a pleasant one.

I was driving a Ford Transit minibus with ten cadets to HMS Raleigh in Plymouth for a training week. We were on the M1 near Nottingham when suddenly something didn’t feel right with the steering.

I pulled to the hard shoulder and just as I got onto it a tyre burst. I was able to stop. Had I stayed in the fast lane a minute longer, it could have been disastrous.

We got all the kids out onto the banking, then discovered we had no spare wheel. We had to flag down the next sea cadets minibus to get help and eventually the AA got us on our way.

I look back and think thank goodness I made the right call at the right moment.