Pioneering spirit


Despite a cold and blustery day, the Sunbeam MCC’s annual veteran extravaganza, the Pioneer Run, was held for the 78th time.

Photographs: Alan Turner/Carole Green/James Robinson Words: Alan Turner

Early departures, on Sunday, March 19, from the Epsom Downs start reported cold conditions before the route took them south to more sheltered Sussex roads.

All part of the tradition – bikes spoken here at the coffee break at The Wheatsheaf pub.

As part of a tradition that must be as old as motorcycling, roadside refreshment and a mix of bikes and beverages is solidly maintained by the Sunbeam Club. Over the years, there have been many casual pull-ins, somewhere along the route, as there still are, but the club has formalised the arrangement into an organised and coffee stop competently marshalled, as ever, by members of the AJS and Matchless OC, one of several clubs that have long assisted the Sunbeam MCC in various capacities in the running of the event.

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Handcross School, just to the north of the eponymous village, has served the club well for some time past but a school event meant it was unavailable this year. The substitute venue was a couple of miles further on, The Wheatsheaf pub at Plummers Plain. A pub with a well-deserved reputation for its quirky decor, it definitely added a memorable something to the occasion.

For some, The Wheatsheaf offered a welcome relief for older muscles pummelled by suspension systems that were created more than a century ago. For others it was a convenient stop for checks and adjustments. It was a useful rendezvous for support vehicles to refill bikes with fuel. For a disappointed few, the resignation of failure but the sympathy of fellow riders. Sunbeam club stalwart Julie Diplock was one such, after her 1914 500cc Triumph had expired somewhere around Crawley.

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