South West London DA: Sou' Wester Archive
Profile of Ron Beams

Profile: Ron Beams - (Jul/Aug 2001)

Ron Beams was born in Kingston on 4th August 1906 so is he tempting providence by inviting you to join him on Wednesday, 1st August, at the Cobham British Legion HQ for a brief coffee and cake celebration?

Ron is notorious as the 'nut-case' (his phrase) who has been riding a variety of recumbent tricycles for over 20 years and needs no encouragement to hold forth on their advantages. Living close to the Kingston Gate of Richmond Park, he spent a happy boyhood doing all a boy should, or should not, do in every kind of game, pastime and cycling in those wonderful surroundings. An early escapade in Oxshott sandpits led to the breaking of the forks on his dad's Beeston Humber!

In 1925 a week in Devon and Cornwall with his dad on a Triumph and sidecar was an introduction to the delights of touring. In 1926 he spent two weeks in the Loire Valley with a French-speaking pal on a single speed bike and all for £16. In June 1926 he set out with camping kit spending every weekend that summer at Enticknaps Farm, Friday Street. The winter was spent riding with the South Western Section - meeting at 'The Telegraph' on Putney Hill.

In 1927 his father died and in January 1928 Ron followed in dad's footsteps as a 'Man from the Pru', starting on a bicycle but soon using a motor-cycle and then an Austin Seven. Cycling was still the pastime of choice with bike and camping gear carried by car all over the southern counties. With his late friend, George Stone, weekends were enjoyed with the Charlotteville CC at Somerset and Ridgeway Farms. He also crewed George's tandem at Herne Hill for the exciting Tandem Paced racing. That and a Charlotteville Novices 25 were Ron's only racing experiences. Inevitably, marriage caught up with him and in 1935 he moved, with Vera, to Teddington where married bliss, gardening and a Pru' promotion meant cycling was relegated to the background.

In 1940 he was in the Home Guard and in 1942 trained as a Fitter Armourer in the RAF at Hereford where a return to cycling allowed an introduction to the Black Mountains. The purchasing of a BSA tandem led to Vera sharing her leave with him in the Hereford area. Ron says, "Vera was in more danger as a telephonist in London than I was in RAF camps!"

After demobilisation in 1946 it was back as a 'Man from the Pru'. Settling down to family life with a son and daughter and a move to Thames Ditton left little time for cycling. The years before retirement in 1967 saw a renewed interest in cycling and he rejoined the CTC, later becoming a Life Member.

An arrangement with Vera on retirement, to allocate Mondays as his cycling day, led to exploration of the southern counties, transporting the bike by car to distant parts. After a year he was accompanied by Bill, also retired from the Pru'. On day trips they did the North Downs Way, South Downs Way and the Ridgeway. Soon a meeting with Chater Willis led to the birth of the 'Monday Club', still meeting after 30 years existence. Chater 'hi-jacked' them into the Veteran-Cycle Club and the Fellowship of Cycling Old-Timers for which Ron says he has been eternally grateful. This gradually led to an interest in cycling history and collecting lamps, books and bicycles. He rode everything in those days - old bikes, a tandem, Moultons, various tricycles and several recumbent tricycles all transported to distant parts by car.

Sadly, in 1981, Vera died and in 1982 Ron moved to Weybridge and gradually expanded his cycling interests to fill his life. Outings with the Monday Club and Wednesday Wayfarers became a regular routine. Touring and camping filled the summer months, V-CC and FCOT events, tours in Ireland and Scotland, plus miles in San Diego, Holland, France and Switzerland were highlights.

At 87 he gave up motoring voluntarily and as old age (!!) approached he slowed down gradually. Fortunately long experience with recumbent tricycles meant he was still mobile and for some years averaged 3000 miles p.a. By age 90 years it was clear the hills were too steep so an experiment was made with a Chronos electric motor on his Mk 3 recumbent which became the preferred 'shopper'.

His first Mk 1 recumbent was built in 1977 and became Mk 2 after rebuilding for entry to the first HPV event on Brighton seafront in 1980 when his rider recorded 30mph. The 'own design' Mk 3 followed, then a Windcheetah with years of enjoyment and Ron's delight in outpacing his friends downhill. Mk 4 to his own design followed and a bought machine. Then another Windcheetah - efforts to electrify it were not successful and could be regarded as sacrilegious!

Then a lucky meeting with an engineer time-triallist and builder of recumbent racing bicycles led to a computerised final design and the building of his Mk 5 - a single wheel up front, pedalled and steered, with a Henzmann Motor in the off-side rear wheel, an enormous basket housing the battery - and a week's shopping!

In September 2000 Ron had a serious operation but optimistically ordered a Trice Explorer with a Henzmann motor in the rear wheel. Mk 5 and Trice are now the only occupants of the garage and ensure daily mobility for exercise and fresh air. With the help of the motor, mileages of 15-20 are possible so Ron hopes eventually to ride once again with the Monday Club and the Wayfarers.

 

Ron Beams died in April 2006 just a few months short of his 100th Birthday.

Picture of Ron Beams