Diamond Ace

Harry Binns' first road bike was a Baines Flying Gate 'Whirlwind'. He then progressed to a RonKit frameset. It was possibly in 1950, coinciding with a period of regular race earnings, augmented by the Beverley Bros Inc 'sponsorship' deal, that Binns purchased a frameset which he rode for the remainder of his cycling career. The manufacturer was uncertain. Banter via the local post office delivery man spoke of an impressive delivery from the Lombardy region of Italy. This Binns confirmed by dedicating his first win on the new machine to a Giuseppe Mondonico.

Not of its time, this brightly-painted bike would always alert rivals, with a peripheral 'titian' glow, before surging by and away into the distance. Binns added his own personal customisation - cut-out bands from a 1949 Tour chart (listing many of the stages and locations which he obsessed about competing over), an Old Warrior Strong Ale Beverleys' beer label (glued to the front face of the head tube), references to Italy (national flag and Gazzetta dello Sport), a strip of a map (showing Birtswith and Hampsthwaite), and the first eighteen lines of a poem (handwritten across the top tube, seat tube, down tube, chainstay and front forks). The poem in question was Wild West, written by British Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, in his early teens.

Binns was a lifelong admirer of Hughes. They were born in the same year, and shared a love of the landscape of home. Harnessing this affinity for romantic departure, Binns christened his race bike 'Diamond Ace' - after the horse ridden by the poem's central figure - anti-hero Carson McReared.

Wild West

I'll tell you a tale of Carson McReared,
Who, south of the 49th was feared
Greater than any man ever before,
And men went in fear of his .44,
For he'd shoot the ears from any man
From Two-Gun Ted to Desperate Dan.
His hoss's name was Diamond Ace
And he'd spit the teeth from a rattler's face,
He was 12 years old when he first ran wild
Because a teacher got him riled.
The sheriff and posse rode him into the hills,
'Cos he shot away the teacher's frills.
So he pulled his guns (his father's gift)
And as the sheriff drew, he gave him a lift
Over the edge of a cliff quite high,
With a .44 slug in either thigh.
Then he turned his guns on the sheriff's men
And shot 'em dead. Yeah, all ten.
Then he saddled his hose and rode away
To the land where Kincaid the Marshal held sway.
'Twas in the street that the two first met,
And the sight of the bad man made Kincaid sweat,
Then like flash the two men went,
And Carson McReared the Terrible sent
A leaden slug weighing 200 grains
Slap into Kincaid's squirming brains.
Then turning to the hose he strode,
Leaving Kincaid the Marshal dead in the road;
And all the town gaped with shock and fear,
Lest they should feel the burning sear
Of a rifled slug around their liver -
A thought which made the brave men shiver.
This check the President could not stand,
So he ordered the law with an iron hand
To encircle Carson with an armoured ring
And make him on a Redwood swing.
So 15 marshals and umpteen men
Hied them forth to Carson's den,
Carson McReared the terrible killer,
The man with a hide like an armadillo.
'Twas in Grand Canyon where they came to grips,
And with steely eyes and firm set lips
1,200 men on spirited hosses
Charged him regardless of all losses,
So Carson stood with his back to the wall,
Triggered his guns, and shot 'em all.
But alas! he too was shot to hell,
No more would he drink in the 'Southern Belle';
And knee deep in blood, where he had to paddle
Stood Diamond Ace, with an empty saddle.
© Sixteen Ninety-three 2014