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”.
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.
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.
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.
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