On The Road Again
True Grit: Brian Knight from Crawley takes a corner into the Lewes Road, Brighton, on his 1914 James, 226cc.
The weather for this year's Pioneer Run was not as warm and sunny as last year, but given that the forecast for Sunday had been for a nasty break in the sunny spell we'd enjoyed during the preceding week, it was pretty good that the day was sunny and windy, even if a bit on the cold side. At least the rain held off until the evening.
It was just about 10 am when I was approaching St Peter's Church on foot when I saw a motorcyclist pull up at the lights at the Ditchling Road / Lewes Road junction. I watched as he jumped off his bike, pushed it across the junction, and hopped on at the other side, and continued on his way in the oneway system on the last leg of his journey to Madeira Drive.
So that's how you get across junctions when you haven't got a clutch!
These early bikes also have minimal braking systems, a variation of the rubber blocks used on the humble bicycle, and fairly ineffective in wet conditions - brake block.
Walking on down towards the Drive, I could always hear the approach of a Run entrant before the rider and bike passed me, because of the distinctive clattering rhythm of their ancient engines.
I'm a big fan of the Pioneer Run for veteran motorcycles. The collection of machines you see along Madeira Drive is unique, and to think that they've all made the journey from Tattenham Corner, Epsom Downs - about 44 miles - that very morning is truly amazing.
The reliability of these venerable machines is impressive. While some do break down, the majority do the journey without major problems. Today motorists and motorcyclists expect to drive their machines just about anywhere in the country without a thought or a hitch. But right up until the Second World War, it was good practice, if say, you lived in Brighton and were contemplating a trip to London and back, to book your cat into the garage for a quick check over before setting off.
These machines are pre-WW I and are still going strong.
Geoff Pollard from Sheffield on his 1914 Triumph. Presumably that's his grandson giving the victory wave. There's no award for the greatest age difference between rider and sidecar passenger, but if there were, surely this team would win!
Toni Scheider from Knorrhof in Germany in the oneway system in Brighton on the last leg of the Pioneer Run. He's riding bike 190 which is a 1912 Triumph, 499cc.