Alvin Smiths account of the Major Nichols 2016 ride

Do you remember that favourite old record – it might be a 78 or a 45 – where at a certain point an excruciating crackling develops? Every time you played the thing the world closed in waiting for that crack to come round –and maybe, just maybe, the spirits had filled in that crack and all would be smooth and melodic, even triumphal and magnificent? Well, we got the scratched side again this year: there is a certain point in Major Nichols Rides, somewhere near, but not quite at, Lower Beobridge, that seems to scramble Alvin’s brains and he just cannot get it right.  We were there again on this ride and despite a recce the week before, it was up the wrong narrow hilly defile we went. It was sort of sunny though, and as I stumbled in an impossibly high gear and the rest of the group went sailing passed, it seemed they didn’t mind too much.  A little later we rejoined the right route and soon enough we were home.

But before that we had our usual Major Nichols clinic/Parade whilst waiting for the off. The sun shone over Halfpenny Green airport, thanks doubtless to Tim Harris and his juju beads, and below some of this year’s bicycles are discussed.

Looking at a few newbie bikes we had Alan Richardson’s latest machine, one once owned by a Halesowen AAC rider- and maintained wonderfully well in the meantime; its glossy black bringing out the epithet of “Black Beauty”.

Alan Richardson’s “Black Beauty” a real little colt!

Its bright topeye

Bob Keen had brought along a working MN – but it was a real rarity, being one of only three lugless machines known to be made by Major Nichols.

Bob Keen’s Lugless MN7936

Topeye of MN7936

Major had told Tim Harris that he lost money on making these frames as they took him much longer than a lugged model, teaching himself as he did towards the end of his career. Subtle differences (apart from the lack of lugs) are the different topeyes and the dimpled chainstays he adopted for this model.

John Gilbert had come down from Cumbria with his unknown maker frame.

John Gilbert’s MN? 229

So evocative topeyes

However there are so many points which resemble a 1970/80s Major that even with a frame number of 229, most people were happy to grant the machine and John a “Welcome Home.”

In case anyone thinks we get too steamed up over Major Nichols, here below is a Gameson that was fully appreciated.

Richard Dunn’s visiting Gameson


Riders list

Roy Stevens               MN 7161

Alan Richardson         MN 8214 Glossy Black (Black Beauty) ex Halesowen AAC rider

James Flintham          MN 74102 badged as Crown Paints team

Richard Dunn             MN7783 Record and Gameson

Bob Keen                   MN 7936 Lugless MN frame (1 of 3 known)

John Gilbert               229  This frame was almost certainly built by MN arguably at Smethwick

Alvin Smith                 MN 6916 Flam red with blue contrasts ex Ant Taylor

Tim Ward                    MN 81xx Road/Race Blue fades over white

Josh King                   MN 9511 Last known series frame built

John Robbins             MN 8811

Robin Walker              MN 74xx Record Road Sprint

Ghinai Saeed              MN White

Ian Thomas                Wilson 1963  16.9 MN built frame

Luke Willans               MN 73123 time trials frame

Nigel Wall                   MN 72511

Philippa Wheeler        Carlton Catalina 1960 Chromed Capella lugs

Roger Johnson           Viking Severn Valley

Rob Swift                   Tom Crowther

Graham Nevett           Gameson Lugless refinished by MN carries 83xxx

Felix Ormerod             MN 83xxx

Winston Smith            Stallard 1948

Mark Measham           Ken Bird

John Green                 Dawes Windrush

Ron Gordon                BSA Tour of Britain

Colin Pennell              Representing his MN 70105

Eric Cox                      Representing  his MN 5835 now on show at Llandrindod Wells Natianal cycle Museum.

David Maslin               Giant 2008