Nothing concerning the LEJOG venture has occurred since last November and my time since then has been devoted to a new project, restoring a Spanish Serveta scooter. This was the first cyclemotor event I have been to since the VMCC AGM. There was a strong connection to last year’s event because at that time I had pictured a Gritzner Brummi in this blog and said I had no idea what it was and Markus, the bike’s owner, got in touch. We arranged to meet at this year’s event.
Markus was the sole German attendee at last year’s Randos Cyclos and the same was sadly true of this year. To put that in perspective, there were 130 entrants and while the majority were French, Dutch or Belgian there were 26 British entrants.
Markus had the oldest bike there, a 1941 Victoria autocycle. The bike won a prize from the organisers in reognition of this.
The bike is almost completely in its original paintwork and was unused until the present day. The story is, and Markus will forgive me if I get some details wrong, the bike was bought during the war and immediately disassembled and put in a cellar to prevent it being requisitioned by the army. It stayed there until sometime around 1989 when the owner of the cycleshop and his widow died and the widow’s sister sold the components to an enthusiast. Markus was buying and selling old moped and bicycle parts at these times and the enthusiast, who also ran an engineering business, agreed to pass them and a Cyclemaster in a very unusual Dutch frame on for what was, at the time, their maximum valuation. The Victoria bits were in their original paint but the bike was incomplete with wheels, headlamp and a few other parts missing. Markus agreed the price and asked for the address where the parts had been obtained. The businessman was very cagey on this point but as a consolation prize gave Markus the address of a scrap merchant to whom the same vendor had sold a pile of old dynamos. Markus wasted no time in contacting the scrap merchant and agreeing to buy them. When he arrived there there was a mound of them and he carefully sorted through them to make sure he got everything that was salvageable. Near the bottom of the mound he came across an old business card from a cycle shop about 35kms from where he lived.
Using the information on the card he visited the street only to find the place shut up and unused. He asked about and found that the owner and his wife had died but that the cycle dealer’s sister in law was still alive. His informant gave him the address and Markus wasted no time in visiting it. The house appeared shut up and there was no answer and Markus wondered if he had arrived too late. It was only on a third visit that he managed to attract the occupant’s attention and gain admittance.
The elderly lady agreed to sell him any of the remaining stock that he wanted and took him to view the shop. He arranged to buy a large stock of handlebar grips and the woman, who must have been over 80 years old, dropped to her knees to clean each pair individually. Markus asked her to stop and explained that he wanted them just as they were but she insited on continuing. While she did so Markus spotted in a corner a pair of wheels and one or two other parts of the Victoria. Without explaining that he had the rest of the bike he enquired if these were for sale and the elderly lady agreed to make them part of the consignment.
There were still one or two components missing (the headlamp, for instance is from a similar type of machine) but Markus had now an almost complete and unused autocycle from 50 years before. Having stored it for many years himself he recently set about getting it running. A few parts were sub standard and unserviceable probably because of the conditions under which it was produced but the bike, now more 75 years old, starts and runs well. The fishtail type exhaust makes it sound very like an early Bantam. It was great to see such an original machine on the run.
There were many other interesting bikes, as always.
Even in the UK two Bown autocycles on a run would be unusual. Besides Neil and Dave’s bikes there were two other variants from other companies, John’s Francis Barnett and Josey’s ‘gillet jaune’ New Hudson. Both these also received a prize.
A dutch couple who both ride brought this very unusual DKW. The first type of DKW built apparently.
Mike’s unusual tandem was another Brit winner. It was ridden by Mike and his wife around part of the 50kms course.
Martin’s Phillips was another not often seen machine that brought a prize back to the UK.
There were too many other interesting machines for me to do justice to. I particularly liked this Dutch-registered bike which has the body styling of a late 50s car.
If you have an interest in this type of bike I would urge you to attend the next Randos Cyclos, the 29th, which takes place on Sunday 7th June 2020. Entry forms will be available next May from firstname.lastname@example.org
Camping is available at nearby Felleries which is also booked with the event. Bed and breakfast accomodation can also be booked through the event organisers, the tourist office.