You are here
Home > Other news >

Banbury Beats the Rain

The Vintage Motorcycle Club’s (VMCC) Banbury Run saw over 270 veteran and vintage bikes gather in north Oxfordshire for the 73rd running of this flagship event, thought to the biggest meeting of running pre-1931 bikes in the world. Despite rain being forecast, this held off for the morning, only starting in earnest as the last few competitors reached the finish line after lunch.

This year saw TV’s Henry Cole and custom bike builder Allen Millyard take part, both riding the entire Banbury Run course, which follows some of the county’s quieter roads, culminating in the fearsome Sunrising Hill. With its 16% gradient ,this is a challenge for many of the older bikes, some of which are single-speed with belt drive, needing pedal assistance (or a push) on hills this steep. Three routes, from 30 to 60, miles are available, depending on the age of the bike, and riders can choose to be timed or untimed.

The oldest machine taking part this year was an 1897 3hp Leon Bollee tricycle, ridden by Jacqueline Bickerstaff, while Allen Millyard rode the VMCC’s own flagship bike – The Dreadnought – which was built in 1902 as a one-off by ‘Oily’ Karslake.

Open to all pre-31 machines, the Banbury Run was first held in 1949, traditionally starting and finishing in Banbury itself, though increasing traffic levels encouraged a move to the British Motor Museum at nearby Gaydon. However, Mayor of Banbury Cllr Fiaz Ahmed was heard to suggest that maybe it was time the Run came home – watch this space.

“A very impressive turnout, I note that Jacqueline Bickerstaff, long time BMF Councillor, was on the Leon Bollee, which I’m sure was a challenging ride. Those machines are like musical instruments, with no consistent control layouts and requiring a deep understanding to get the best out of them, not for those who expect their vehicles to do all the work for them, including thinking! No AI in 1897! ” said BMF Chairman Jim Freeman.

Written by Peter Henshaw

Top image courtesy of Peter Henshaw