MCC members on trial: London-Edinburgh (and back)

1911 MCC LON-ED-LON AWWhat better way to spend a couple of days than riding from London to Edinburgh and back again? Here’s an eye-witness report on the popular MCC outing.

THE WEATHER CONDITIONS on Friday evening, June 2nd, were absolutely perfect for the great MCC Run to Edinburgh—the eighth annual event. It was gloriously fine and warm, while a few days old moon shone after dark to light the competitors on their way North…Gordon Watson (6hp FN) had an RAC badge fastened on his head light, the first we have seen on a motor bicycle. WES May (5hp Portland-JAP) had his route card neatly fixed in a frame and electrically lighted, while he also used a comfortable pan seat. JR Brown rode a Lincoln-Elk with a huge petrol tank. HB Karslake rode his famous Dreadnought, now on its third trip to Edinburgh…Karslake was the only man riding a motor bicycle not to employ a magneto. GW Raper (6hp NSU) used an electric lamp to illuminate his watch and speedometer…

1911 MCC LON-ED-LON BELL
HG Bell (4hp FN) was first to start and first to finish. The 20hp Napier car was driven by MCC president Charles Jarrott.

HG Bell (6hp FN), the trials hon sec for this competition, was the first man to leave. Punctually at 9pm he was despatched by FT Bidlake… Time and again the advantage of the free engine two-speed machines was demonstrated, as their users comfortably seated glided with ease away into the night at the word ‘Go’. Brough, riding a 3½hp Brough, is the present holder of the challenge cup. His machine was the essence of unostentatious neatness. GA Reed’s 3¾hp Scott ticked round quietly in free engine, and glided away with surprising sweetness when the word to go was given, while the two AJS machines got under way with extreme ease… Near Stevenage we overtook Godsal (7hp Bat), who was sitting in the sidecar and driving, a position which he varied occasionally by getting into the saddle. C Percival (6hp Zenith-Gradua) was another man who took an empty sidecar with him, but he found a passenger at Newcastle, and so finished the journey with a companion… So fine was the night that Saturday morning had hardly begun before the glimmer in the East heralded the approaching dawn…
At Norman Cross, Frank (7hp GOK and sidecar) suffered tyre troubles, and a mile or two back Olsson (Oxted-Jap) had a nipped rear tube. Mussell (7hp Rex) lost his compression tap while approaching Grantham. About three miles from this town there was a patch of unrolled metal which was indicated by two AA and MU scouts, a fact which was much appreciated by the riders. De Rosier, however, thought they were policemen about to stop him, so he went all out and took the stones with a rush. An excellent breakfast was served at the George Hotel at Grantham, where the third check was situated, and here it was noticed that Vedy and Chater-Lea were missing. Hugh Gibson (Bradbury and sidecar) was seen at a standstill in Retford, Haslam (Triumph) had tyre troubles a little
further on, and a similar fate befell Love (Triumph) at Ranskill. W Cooper (3½hp Brown) had the magneto sprocket come adrift—an incident which caused him a delay of three hours. WE Haines (8hp Bat and sidecar) had clutch trouble near Doncaster, and near this town Kickham (2¾hp Douglas) had plug trouble. Gibson stopped to tighten his belt at Wentbridge, where there is the steepest hill between Loudon and Newcastle. The way to the Station Hotel, York, where was the fifth check, was excellently marked by means of arrows, and at the hotel a splendid breakfast was served. Fortified by this and by the fact that the sun shone warmly in a clear blue sky, the men started away in a very happy frame of mind, and the journey on the next stage was continued on excellent roads, carefully protected by the splendid East Riding police, who were stationed at all dangerous places along the roads…

1911 MCC LON-ED-LON YORK
Left: Signing in at the Station Hotel, York, Right: Eli Clark (2¾hp Douglas) and JR Brown (3½hp) Lincoln Elk.

A little farther on we overtook WA Jacobs and Le Grand, who have earned for themselves the nickname of ‘the inseparables’. Dear (2hp Humber), whom we had last seen walking his machine at Neville’s Cross, went to sleep, ran into a ditch, and bent his forks. He had had other trouble, and had had no food before he reached Thirsk, but he eventually reached Newcastle, where he retired with an injured ankle. T Wray (3½hp Bradbury and sidecar) stated at Darlington that his engine was not pulling well…At Perryhill the colliery district was reached, and the going from that point to Newcastle was not of the pleasantest. At the latter town, where the seventh check was situated, a very hearty welcome was extended to the competitors by the Newcastle and District MC, whose members managed the check and arranged a capital lunch at their clubhouse. Here Wray endeavoured to improve the running of his engine by fitting a new exhaust valve spring. After Newcastle the road was execrable, the surface being of the very vilest description…By far the longest climb was Carter Bar, which leads up to the Scottish

1911 MCC LON-ED-LON JAKE
“At the final checkpoint a ‘wee lassie’ presented Jake De Rosier with an American flag.”

border…Ware at this point suffered broken forks, and a little further on he broke a tube of his sidecar frame. It is a wonder there were not more breakages, as the surface was appalling, which may be accounted for by the motor char-à-banc service which plies along this route. The road from the foot of Soutra to Dalkeith is equally atrocious for the same reason. Sir RK Arbuthnot broke a spring in his forks, but he was fortunately able to replace it at Doncaster. At Jedburgh, where was the eighth check, an excellent tea was served at the Royal Hotel. The country was now perfectly lovely and quite hilly…Brough was heard to remark that his machine was going so well that all he had to do was to sit still and see the milestones go by…Karslake was delayed by inlet valve trouble, and gave up all idea of competing for the cup. FE Flint (3½hp Zenith) twisted the -back slays of his machine and found he could only take corners comfortably in one direction. Eli Clark (2¾hp Douglas), in pulling up suddenly to avoid running into a woman, cut his hand badly. At last the final check, the ninth, was found at Liberton, and save for the last two miles through the Edinburgh traffic the journey was over.
Although this is the eighth run of the kind the MCC has held, interest in it appeared to be as keen as ever, and everywhere the competitors had a royal reception…Of 126 motor cyclists who started 111 arrived at Edinburgh, 96 riding motor bicycles and 15 motor bicycles and sidecars or runabouts.
Sunday was spent quietly in Edinburgh. Only the ‘cup’ men were not allowed to have access to their machines.

The Return Journey.
The homeward journey from Edinburgh on Monday took place in weather quite as splendid as it had been on the way North. The first man to be despatched was Hill (Rudge) who had entered for the challenge cup…The break of dawn on the Cheviots was particularly beautiful. All the way up to London the day was hot, and the dust at times was very trying…CE Lovett (3½hp Bat) broke his frame at Buckden, and Karslake (4hp Dreadnought) also broke his frame. Another unrfortunate was England (2hp MR), who stripped his timing gear. Robbins (3½hp Humber) had not arrived at midnight. Mundy arrived late through stopping to help Slatter, who fell asleep and collided with a cart. He was injured and taken to Doncaster Hospital. Greaves met with a similar fate, so it was stated, at Bawtry, and was reported rather badly hurt.
In the sidecar class Ware arrived with his damaged machine spliced up with wood where broken. He skidded badly at a corner on the Cheviots, and hurt his finger. His splendid pluck in getting through is worthy of special mention.

1911 MCC LON-ED-LON BROUGH
George Brough on the 6hp, 854cc V-twin Brough on which he’d just won the Edinbutgh trial cup for the second time. And doesn’t he look pleased with himself?

FOR THE SECOND year running George Brough won the MCC Challenge Cup. Naturally he was on one of his dad’s bikes; in this case the new 6hp twin. Runner-up for the cup was Eli Clark (2¾hp Douglas); third place went to P Shaw (3½hp P&M).
Solo riders won 28 of the special gold medals for the two-way journey; four went to combo pilots.
Gold medals for the outward run only were awarded to riders of 55 solos and 11 combos.
And a sole silver medal went to W Hornsby on his 4hp Cheviot.