The annual NACC Coast-to-Coast run is a real test of man and machine, instituted 21 years ago by the Yorkshire Section and until recently hosted by ex-NACC Chairman David Casper, who unfortunately has health issue which now prevent him from participating. This year Messrs. David Quainton and David Stevenson were in the hot seat, with a total of 27 participants ready to ride from Crimdon Dene, near Hartlepool on the east coast, to Whitehaven on the west coast, via Alston and across the Pennines. It’s a two-day ride with an overnight stop in Alston. Every bike, young and old, that carries its burden the 140 miles over the Pennines and back down to the sea again deserves praise. Remarkably, there were three cyclemotors entered in 2019
David Stevenson recounts: “David and I had discussed a very short welcome and briefing followed by a mass start. Shortly after ten o’clock riders gathered in front of the van with their riding kit on and engines running so that it very quickly BECAME IMPOSSIBLE TO MAKE ONESELF HEARD. The people at the back were disappearing in a blue fog as 27 tiny engines warmed up. Then, just as the last bikes were inching their way onto the back of the grid, four riders at the front sped off and disappeared over the hill. There is something about the concept of starting the event ‘together’ that annually eludes participants in the NACC’s C2C. ”
“Fred Richards has done the run, or part of the run, a number of times since 2008 when he mated his Russian-built Kroxa engine to a Claude Butler frame. The finished product is a handsome thing with a copper tank, two chains and a clutch but no gearbox, like a smaller autocycle. Fred’s nephew, John Minto, shared the riding and driving and they had their best crossing to date, done and dusted by 2.30pm on the Sunday. This in itself would be sufficient cause for congratulation so I should let it be known that during the event Fred confided to us that he had celebrated his 89th birthday this year.
Hardly less impressive was the crossing by Kevin Mawhinney from Carrick Fergus in Northern Ireland on his Trojan Mini Motor. Attached to a fairly modern bike frame, it performed extremely well climbing, with Kevin’s assistance, without problems and running on the flat in the mid-twenties. “
“Ron Patterson on his Cyclemaster joined us for the Sunday morning ride from Alston to Bassenthwaite. His bike too performed faultlessly because the climb up to Hartside from Alston is one of the testing points for a cyclemotor on the run. The bike has been bored out to a capacity of 38cc to accommodate the piston from a leaf-blower and sounds very healthy which Ron modestly attributed to a rust hole which has appeared in the exhaust. There was no doubt though, watching it go, that its bark matched its bite.”
David Stevenson continues: “There is something about riding a small machine slowly through a big landscape that makes the rider feel they are part of the drama unwinding on either hand. That, the camaraderie of the frequent stops and the challenge of persuading a reluctant, elderly and feeble velocipede over the blue hills and far away have been the enduring appeal of the Coast to Coast. I must have followed the route 15 or so times and when I ride it now I am surrounded by the ghosts of those who have ridden it over the years. Happily most of these ‘ghosts’ are still with us, just simply elsewhere this particular mid-summer. These often nameless wraiths (for I am very bad at remembering names) cluster in gateways and lay-bys, farm entrances and by signs where I am reminded something or other happened: an indistinct group waiting for a lost friend, a lone figure grovelling by a stricken steed, a family group posing with a signpost, a dapper gentleman in tweeds and deer-stalker being passed spanners by a well-dressed female assistant as if he were a surgeon performing an operation. Of course, unfortunately there are those who will not come that way again.”
The date for next year’s Coast-to-Coast has yet to be fixed, but traditionally it is held over the weekend nearest the the longest day, which in 2020 falls on Sunday 21st June. The 2020 C2C should therefore take place over the weekend of Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st June. To be confirmed in the Events Calendar early in the new year.