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The 73rd Pioneer Run
Epsom to Brighton, Sunday 20th March 2011

On the eve of this year's Pioneer Run on Sunday 20th March there was a full moon. Not just any old full moon but a 'supermoon' which occurs when the moon is nearest the earth on its elliptical orbit. It appears brighter and larger. Some say it has a pronounced affect on us ... so, as we watched it over Brighton pier, we hoped it would bring forth a good array of weird and wonderful ancient motorcycles the following morning. We were not disappointed! The 1909 Phanomobile (above) takes some beating!

The supermoon did also herald fine weather, the Sunbeam Motor Cycle Club yet again having the good fortune of a fine day for motorcycling on veteran machines - dry and sunny with a cooling breeze off the sea. The machines as usual set off on their 42 mile run from Epsom Downs at 8am. Earliest to leave were the oldest 'Class 1' (pre-1905) machines. We managed to 'snap' a blurry shot of the oldest of them all - an 1896 Leon Bollee 3 horse power tricycle - arriving along Brighton's Madeira Drive (above).

'Class 2' (1905-09) and 'Class 3' (1910-14) entrants follow, around 370 machines in all three classes. Southward they head towards the sea, past Gatwick airport and over the picturesque, rolling South Downs to Brighton's seafront. Our amble on to Madeira Drive around 10am meant we were able to see most arrivals, and it is a real thrill to see and hear Victorian and Edwardian motorcycles on the road. Some requiring that little bit of extra help on the final leg (above).

Entrance to the paddock is allowed from about 11am with purchase of a 2.00 programme getting you in. And, our quest to spot the 11 veteran Sunbeams in the programme begins! We were not the only ones - a crowd quickly gathering around 'OA 8109', a 2 horse power (350cc) model from 1913 (above). This little two-speed model, introduced in 1912, was Marston's first production motorcycle. It's engine (below) was designed by Harry Stevens, one of the Stevens brothers who were building proprietary engines at the turn of the century and later, from 1909, producing AJS Motor Cycles.

There were, in all, five examples of this, the first of three Pioneer-eligible Marston Sunbeam models. The 2 horse power was produced from 1912-14. 'MKM 672' from 1913 was equally as well turned out (below).

The three other examples in the programme all dated from 1913: 'KE 9905', 'AE 9594',and 'BD 4127', the latter ridden in by one of the team from Bonhams, the auctioneers in attendance on the day - showcasing a handful of the lots they will be presenting at the Stafford International Motorcycle Show auction in April. The good Mrs Sidevalve's trusty camera 'snapped' the last two of them (below).

Marston's second production model, the big 6 horse power (660cc) J.A.P. engined v-twin was once more present in both its 1913 and 1914 guise. We caught up with both in the paddock (below). The 1913 machine 'M 3122' is, I think, from the former Verrall collection, whilst the 1914 machine 'BH 2280' was at one time owned by vintage collector and enthusiast the late John Griffiths .

Finally, for us Sunbeam hunters there were four examples of the John Greenwood designed 3 horse power (500cc) model to look out for. Introduced for the 1914 season, the earliest examples date from late 1913. 'K 2924' was one of the survivors from that first year (below).

The other three machines date from 1914 (below).

Sunbeam's Wolverhampton rivals also catch our eye and the lens of Mrs Sidevalve's camera. Ten of them were listed this year: six A.J.S. machines, 3 Clynos and a solitary Wolf by the Wearwell Motor Carriage Company - one of the UK's pioneers who commenced with a commercially unsuccessful quadricycle in 1899. We manage to grab photos of the following, starting with the Wolf (below).

The mighty 6 horse power v-twin Clyno of 1912 - a machine based on a Harry Stevens' designed v-twin engine, the rights to which were sold to the company complete with all tooling for its manufacture when Clyno located to the former Stevens factory in Wolverhampton in about 1910 (above).

Amongst the A.J.S. machines we managed  photographs of two of the v-twins and a single cylinder machine (below) before it was time to go hunting lunch.


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