Among the many important events fulfilled, during the past week-end, was one promoted by the Nelson section of the Cyclists’ Touring Club, which took the form of a reliability ride of 200 miles in 24 hours. All cyclists between the ages of nine and ninety were eligible to compete for the large certificates offered by the club to the successful riders who should complete the distance within the limited time.
Since the entry fee amounted to five shillings per head, or mouth - average size— and included two hot meals; an aggregate number of fifteen entrants was considered quite hopeful by the organisers. Unfortunately, but twelve of that number, including our lady secretary, started from Nelson at 6 p.m. on Saturday, and thus began their long journey.
So let the reader hang on to our trail as we rattle out of the town towards Carr Hall Road, where Mr. D. C. Holmes succeeded in waylaying us with photographic interests.The ordeal over and with fervent hopes that the camera would not be found damaged, we continued towards Higham, where rain caused us to adorn ourselves with capes and "oil-skin lids." The downpour prevailed upon the earth as we passed over its surface through Whalley to Preston, where we steered about eight points to starboard and so on to Cabas near Garstang. This was our first halt, and our already damp sandwiches were soon harboured safely internally. Then at 110-20 p.m. we were ready again to sail out into the wet. By that time the darkness of the night also began to reign, so lamps were lighted to guide us through the storm.
In Lancaster we pitied the picture-goers as they endeavoured to board late ’buses, with fears that they would have to walk home in the rain; while we imagined that they in turn would. perhaps be sorry for us. Little did they think that a hot dinner was being prepared for our special consumption at Windermere.
Therefore our favourite “track-eaters” were permitted to feed rapidly upon the juicy road to Kendal, while the tyres wallowed with evident relish in the mud, and in due course of time we arrived on the scene of the feed. After a much needed toilet we all sat down to a very early morning dinner, while mountains of steak pie and vegetables were surveyed for the last time by twelve pairs of eyes squinting along knives and forks, which were used as theodolites. Some of our friends appeared quite "fed up" in more than one sense, ’ere they had eaten the cairns from off their hills of food; while others with keener appetites called for second "peaks" some of which were left unconquered.
By 3-20 a.m. we might all have been able to depart had not Arthur George calmly informed us that his conveyance had developed a serious wheel-wobble, due to several of the spokes being broken, thus preventing his continuation of the ride. But, while seven of the party remounted their steeds, a repair gang of five rebuilt rear wheel, and Arthur will never forget their good deeds, for to him the repair did truly appeal.
So the latter part set out from Windermere an hour behind the scheduled time, and a little later the day broke upon them, while the light scattered in all directions. It was then time to turn out our lights, quite a simple matter for all of us except Squire, whose light-giving dynamo was, held in gear by the tension provided by three yards of string passed between the handlebars and the dynamo itself. This festoon arrangement he contrived to untie without dismounting, and his efforts as the loose end increased to more than an arm’s length above his head, became rather amusing, especially when his mouth, too, was required to prevent an almost unmanageable length of cord from becoming entangled in the wheels. Then, unfortunate Arthur solemnly announced that-the rent was over due in his cape, and true enough that very moment had parted from the neck right down the spine seam, thus presenting a rather exaggerated swallow-tailed appearance. And as our little party proceeded along to Ambleside and Grasmere, then over Dunmail Raise, from the top of which Thirlmere can be seen in the distance, inviting road users to come down from the heights and take a closer view. A following wind helped us quickly down to the lake avenue of trees, whose fresh green leaves contrasted pleasantly with the dark clouded sky overhead.
Our route led us through the Vale of John's by Threlkeld to Keswick, where breakfast was to be served, but not before we had travelled all the way round Bassenthwaite lake and entered the town for the second time that day. By that time the advance. party had been overtaken by the repair section, so we were all able to beak-fast together.
About 8 p.m. we left Keswick and commenced the return journey to Kendal, while our shoes were still able to spout water from the lace holes. On arriving at the up-to-date Westmorland town, we were again provided with another meal to keep us awake and active, leaving later about 12 a.m. for Kirby
Lonsdale. There we began meeting the animals from a travelling circus, and by pretending not to see them, a few of the sleepy ones were easily led to believe that the elephants and zebras they saw were merely imaginary, such visions being the result of staying awake all night.
This event helped to bring some of the party to their normal senses, and was about the time when the rain had ceased sufficiently to enable us to take off our capes for the remainder of the day.
After traversing familiar roads Settle was reached, where those who still possessed appetites partook of a little more refreshment. Later, we were all riding along the last lap of our lengthy course form Settle to Skipton, then Colne, where all the twelve riders finished in time to qualify for the gold clocks which will never be presented, though we may each be the proud recipient of quarter yard's of wallpaper printed to show that on such a said day we rode a bicycle a distance of 200 miles in 23 hours - and survived.