Traditionally held at the start of the motorcycling season, the 2021 Pioneer Run is instead scheduled to take place in early autumn. That’s not the only change to this year’s arrangements which will see the London to Brighton riders arrive at an all-new destination…
The first Pioneer Run for veteran machines built before 1915 took place back in 1930, and was organised back then as now by the Sunbeam Motor Cycle Club. Up to 500 of the earliest powered forms of personal transport – mainly two-wheelers but accompanied by some three-wheelers and even quadricycles equipped with handlebars, saddles and pedals – have accepted this significant challenge, much to the delight of the riders and onlookers alike.
A few notable circumstances have previously interrupted the Pioneer Run’s progress – a world war, extreme weather, the fuel crisis – and last year’s event was one of many disrupted by the present pandemic. The organisers hope that by the intended date of Sunday 3rd October 2021 sufficient restrictions will have been lifted to facilitate the smooth running of another memorable event.
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Over time, the exact start, finish and route of the Pioneer Run have evolved to suit the road and traffic conditions. The very first Run began at Croydon Aerodrome, and in 1954 the riders set off from Westminster. The run has frequently finished at Madeira Drive in Brighton but has previously travelled to Peacehaven – and even Paris!
In 2019 the Sunbeam MCC changed the route of the run to avoid a dangerous junction on the A23, where riders on 100-year old motorcycles merged with fast moving traffic. An alternative route was adopted heading towards Shoreham, eventually leading to the coast road to Brighton. Whilst this was much safer, the congestion and numerous traffic lights caused problems, particularly to riders of clutchless and single-speed machines.
A more practical solution was sought, and the organisers have just announced that that the run will in future avoid congestion by finishing at the historic Brighton City Airport in Shoreham.
‘The directors of the airport are entirely supportive of the airport becoming a permanent finishing point for the Pioneer Run,’ says the club. ‘This will give us improved safety, more room for spectators and parking, and on-site catering.’
The first participants on the oldest machines typically set off on the run at 8am from Epsom. Further details about the 2021 event will be confirmed nearer the time: keep an eye on the Sunbeam MCC’s website for more information.
Photos by Richard Jones