Pioneer Run 2011
21st March 2011
Early o clock on Epsom Downs
video to come soon
as seen in
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Pioneer Run Sunday 20th March 2011
after a ridiculously busy day the day before clearing out a garage a lie in
sounded a great idea
why the green blazes was I standing on a windswept hill top at just after 7am
frantically looking for any extra layers to keep me warm
it’s March and the Sunday closest to the start of spring, so it must be the 73rd
Pioneer run for pre 1914 bikes from Epsom to Brighton.
whirring, clanking and chuffing on various veteran motorised contraptions proved
this to be the case, add in the puffing and panting of several participants as
they tried their best to bring to life their ancient devices.
is often considered the first big event in the South and although the run is for
pre 1914 bikes there is always an eclectic mix of modern and classic bikes.
hear you ask what has this to do with custom motor cycles, well these very early
years of motorcycling brought forth many of the innovations which we have now
become to consider the norm. And recently I am sure you haven’t failed to
notice how many modern custom motorcycles are taking their influences from this
think of the classic “chop” Hardtail, minimal seat, simple electrics,
minimal front brakes, small petrol tank, maybe an open belt drive and you are
seeing the resemblance to these veteran bikes
the recent LICS show in February this was much in evidence too with little
touches like reverse brass levers.
may ourselves think on a blustery cold and grey Sunday morning whether to head
out our bikes with modern suspension, 24v lights and an oiling system that keeps
the fluids circulating around the engine without rider involvement, but these
bikes, which often look flimsy enough to snap even before a rider is sat upon
it, and have none of these comforts and I would be sorely afraid trying one for
a few miles let alone the 50 miles to the coast. I would still love to try
riding one though.
for me the more original one of these bikes is the more I like them and the
quirkier the better. The ones which I really liked this year were the 1890’s
Leon Boillee tricycles which on “tick over” had the most amazing noise,
which a friend of mike commented it sounded like a like a miniature version of
an ALCO Diesel Electric locomotive!!, this worried me as he showed no Train
spotting tendencies before but then he is an Australian.
riders show as much personality as some of the bikes, and as participants come
from all over Europe and the Dutch seem to sport the most wonderful moustaches.
And as for sartorial eloquence, tweed and wax cotton was de rigueur
8am the first of these precarious contraptions on their way, superbly marshaled
by the Sunbeam Motorcycle Club who have organised this event since 1930. Some
machines actually make it up the slope without rider assistance, most bikes
requiring a running start or frantic pedalling. And then head off to fight with
the modern traffic to the coast there’s legs, arms, cogs, handles, plungers
and pedals all frantically turning, winding and spinning around.
takes about an hour and a half for all the bikes to depart and all the time more
local clubs and bikes arrive making just browsing the way to spend a pleasant
its history, but its living breathing clanking and clunking history and we
should all be proud that we can still see these machines used as they should be.