Annual Meeting, La Ferte-Imbault, France

1st-5th June, 2011

I must admit that I’m very spoilt when it comes to vintage bike rides. We have superb vintage events in Great Britain, and Brighton has the top beach cycle-lanes in the country. But, with a fascinating variety of machinery, and such a friendly, well-organized event thanks to Alain Cuvier and his crew, the IVCA cycle run is one of the best runs I’ve attended.

We live only 5 miles from the Newhaven ferry terminal, and this crossing, to Dieppe, is a very relaxed affair. It’s actually easier for us to drive through France than to negotiate the M25 and visit the rest of England. After a smooth 4 1/2 hour ferry crossing, it was a five hour drive from Dieppe to the Loir-et-Cher region of France. We stayed at the home of our friends Alain and Chantal Touchet, who live 10 miles away from La Ferte-Imbault. Alain drove the back-up van on the road run. You can see me, above, riding through La Ferte-Imbault early on Saturday morning on my way to the starting point.

My 1891 Columbia is parked up, below, as I photograph a Belgian group arriving for the run. On the left is a 1933 Triumph Ladies and, next to it, with a double top tube, is a Groene Leeuw.


The chaps in uniform, below, were from the ORE Club in Belgium.

Ivan Krivanak (from the Czech Republic), below, on his hobby horse, was undoubtedly the most theatrical of the entrants.

I was impressed by the Ong Cop bicycle, below, from Saigon. The owner told me that it was a really Peugeot, assembled in Vietnam; the Ong Cop badge has a tiger instead of the Peugeot lion.

The ‘butcher’ below had a knife tucked into his bloody apron, though he removed it while riding.

Below, Alain Cuvier, IVCA vice-president and organizer of the event, signals the start of the ride.


And we’re off…

Once we were under way, I had to focus on riding rather than taking photos. Alain took the picture, above, from his back-up van.

We stopped after 10km for a well-earned rest.

Above left, Eric Desmet, who rode an early FN Acatene, asks his wife to give him a card with his email address so I can stay in touch with him.

Below: Chantal photographs us as we parade through Romorantin, capital of the Sologne region.

The most exotic bikes on the event were the pair of Hesperus ‘J-wheel’ bicycles, above and below. Designed by Paul Jaray, well-known for his work on tear-drop shaped Zeppelins and car bodies, the Hesperus-Werke at Stuttgart produced about 2000 of these bikes in three different versions between 1922 and 1923.

Below: My partner Soraya and daughter Delphy, on the far right of the picture, weren’t used to seeing me in costume and, as a result, didn’t have time to photograph me.

Ernest Oberle from Switzerland, pictured on the Ordinary below, told me he is in the middle of restoring an ordinary with a BSA hub. I look forward to seeing pictured of it when he’s completed it.

Two of the Kent contingent: Vic, above, and Dave below (on a Hurtu).

In blue, below, is well-known restorer-collector Rod Safe.





An unfortunate back injury meant that after lunch at Romorantin I needed to change back into normal clothes and recuperate with Alain and Chantal’s dog and my daughter’s Peppa Pigs for company.

It was an excellent ride, and I look forward to attending next year’s event in Belgium.







When we visit Alain and Chantal, we make a point of stopping at our favourite windmill, south of the village of Ecoman, and just over halfway in our journey.

We know nothing about it, but it’s serene place, in the middle of the countryside. On this trip, the poppies were in bloom, which added an extra sprinkling of magic.

It’s hard not to think of WW1 when surrounded by poppies in France.

Additional photos thanks to Alain and Chantal

To read more about the IVCA, the International Veteran Cycle Association, or to join this recommended club, PLEASE CLICK HERE

The Jaray article above was reproduced from The Boneshaker Magazine, #169, Autumn 2005, which retains copyright.

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