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Aticle in issue 233 of 100% Biker

The Sunbeam MCC has held the Pioneer Run for pre 1915 bikes from Epsom to Brighton for 79 years with only a couple of interruptions and exceptions such as foot and mouth which halted the use of the start area. The club also keep the prestigious Pioneer register which dates these wonderful machines.

I have never ridden one of these amazing bikes but admire those who do. Apart from the fact I would be confused and scared by the myriad levers, brakes which make bicycles look powerful, final drive by leather belt, lighting by candle and power rated by hamsters in wheels, let alone horses they are a challenge.

Held on the third Sunday in March, it is known to be changeable weather wise, these certainly are hardy riders and not fair weather riders, keeping up the pioneer spirit. The same can be said of the many supporters who follow the route.

This year a late snow storm (mini beast from east, you have to love these silly names they give weather now) made the event touch and go. Even on the morning of the event as I looked out of Bosun Towers at the snow steadily falling and pedestrians sliding past the window, surely it cannot be going ahead.

But pioneer riders sneer in the face of snow, put a finger up at frost, waggle a digit at rain, and put another t shirt on, and yes some hardly souls were heading to the coast. And so it seemed only fair that I should make an effort for should I be afraid of a bit of snow and cold.  After all none of these bikes are less than 103 years old, and many of the riders are of advancing years now, though I think many riders had passed their duties to slightly younger riders this year.

Sadly the hill up to get to my bike was impassable, so I grabbed the keys to my Mrs B’s car and headed down to the Plough at Lower Beeding, well know bike enthusiasts meeting place and one of the local pubs en-route, where there was Tea, Coffee, Log fire and Bacon rolls.

There were still a few other hardy spectators out and those pioneers who chugged past seemed to appreciate the support and still managed to wave back. The car park also seemed to become a handy fettling stop as riders adjusted and tinkered on their motorcycles. Sadly a couple of bikes and riders ended their ride here as the weather took its toll on their machines one with a quite remarkable clunking sound.

A few spectators rode in including several from the local Hinkley Triumph owners Club and the Spirit of 59 club, mad fools but well-done you. There was also the most wonderful well used matchless which looked like nothing was a problem for it, I would love such a machine.

I believe around 150 riders still started or finished the run and well done to all, now please can we have some warmer weather to play in? If you’re interested in seeing other veterans on the move look out for other events such as the Banbury run.