Pre-Pioneer Run

13th March 2011

First ride of the year - who will turn up, what will the weather be like? Will it be obvious that we are all a bit rusty after a long winter lay-off, or will C&F members listen carefully to the ride briefing and be assiduous in performing their duties at drop-offs?

The recce was on the Friday immediately preceding, and we met at Tattenham Corner in the small car-park used by the Pioneer Run for the start of the event proper. John Warr was leading, I was last man and Scottie performed the roving marshal role. We should have had another participant but he succumbed to back trouble (couldn’t get it off the bed). The route was exactly that to be used for the Pioneer run itself, bar an adjustment to the coffee stop. 41 miles to Brighton, should be despatched in less than an hour (I did mention that JW was leading).

We left at 9.45am and were in Brighton eating fish and chips by 12 noon. A leisurely tea stop accounted for the reasonable average speed, together with strictly obeying speed limits so that the timings were OK for Sunday. A brisk ride home saw me indoors before 2pm - the weather was perfect March, bright sun, cloudless blue sky and a mill-pond sea, Brighton at its best. I even got some ABCs photos in the bank for later in the year.

Roll on to Sunday. Gloom, murk, low cloud, cold wind, winter clothing back on, Chapter vest safely stowed out of the worst of the weather, replaced by the fluorescent nastiness mandated by the last-man responsibility. Briefing soon despatched, it was time to mount up and set off. Oh, the roar of 30+ Harleys on their first proper ride of the year, and so many happy faces, new and old, intent on enjoying the day regardless of the weather. I reckon it’s my 199th Harley ride (day trips or weekends away, not counting commuting), and number 200 will be the April ride-out which we’re reconnoitring on 1st April - why not come along and take part?

Group Shot

From Epsom Downs it was down to the A217, then on to Reigate where one of the new members carefully marked a junction from several yards into a one-way street; by the time I arrived he had engaged (manual) reverse gear and was pushing 668lbs backwards up the hill to rejoin the ride - stout effort! We then proceeded at a sensible pace, bearing in mind the wet roads and Sunday drivers, down through the Gatwick and Crawley areas to our tea stop. On arrival we found the usual bemused sports bike riders and half a car park full of the Mini owners club, far more interesting. The tea was good, too, thanks Scottie. One of the joys of being last-man is that I always arrive last; on one hand it can be a problem finding the last parking space, on the other hand someone has usually got a drink for me for when I do arrive. It’s also the best view in the house.

Madeira Drive, our destination in Brighton, is at the other end of several miles of suburban sprawl; JW had briefed that the conducted ride ended at the Brighton city limits, and riders should then simply follow the town centre and sea front signs. Scottie marked the last roundabout so there was no last minute confusion, simply excellent fish and chips awaiting.

But where was the sea? It was the other side of the fog-bank sitting over the Channel. The Continent was well and truly cut off.

Michael Howers - C&F Road Captain

Pioneer Run courtesy of The Sunbeam Motor Cycle Club