One of the few opportunities to see vintage motorcycles running in all their glory takes place this weekend, when the 79th annual Pioneer Run takes place from Epsom Downs to Brighton on Sunday (18 March).
Organised by the Sunbeam Motor Cycle Club since 1930, the run regularly attracts more than 300 bikes each year – quite an achievement considering that only bikes built before 1915 are eligible to enter.
The first bikes set off in pairs in two minute intervals, starting from oldest to newest, from the Epsom Downs race course from 8am and have five hours to complete the 47 mile circuit to the south coast seaside town. This rolling museum provides a fascinating insight into the evolution of the motorbike and, with the youngest bikes 104 years old (and the oldest over 120), breakdowns and running repairs are not unusual.
While not a race, there are several awards on offer. All riders entering will receive a commemorative lapel badge, with bronze medallions awarded to all finishers. Additional prizes are available to the rider and bike with the highest combined age, best newcomers, best V-Twin, best American machines and team award.
Among the riders will be Sunbeam MCC’s Club President Frank Dolman, who will be starting his 59th Pioneer Run. Mr Dolman, from Cambridgeshire, first entered the event as a 17 year old and has ridden in every single run since then. He’ll be riding the same 348cc 1912 Douglas ‘Ladies Model’ with which he has started (and indeed finished) each of his 58 previous runs – quite an achievement for both man and machine.
Entries for the event have closed but spectators are more than welcome. Commemorative programmes are sold by officials at various locations along the route, while the finishers will gather on Brighton’s Maderia Drive from around 10am and will remain in the paddock area until after the prize giving ceremony, which is conducted by the Mayor of the City of Brighton & Hove.
See http://sunbeam-mcc.co.uk for further information.