Saturday at last! What a relief to be on the road again after a week of the usual daily round; jesting and laughing with one’s clubmates, and making the tyres hum a merry
song. Even Cold Weather Hill does not drag to-day, for our spirits are light, and the sun is shining, giving a touch of warmth to the atmosphere and heralding the approach of brighter days. Gisburn, with its white-washed cottages and mellow, old church, looks charming in the afternoon’s wintry sunlight, and even Hellifield has assumed a peaceful air. Otterburn, with its babbling brook flowing under a rustic, one-arched bridge, we leave behind, for our destination is Malham, that far-famed beauty spot of Yorkshire, with its Cove, its Tarn, its Gordale Scar and host of other attractions. The next place of interest is Airton, which, after a few undulations, gives place to Kirkby Malham; a village like Otterburn, still unspoilt by the advance of "modernisation,” and whose church contains a signature of that "Parliamentarian, Oliver Cromwell. Soon we are upon the crest of the last hill, looking down on Malhamdale. The sun, which resembled a huge golden ball in the haze that overhung Rye Loaf Hill, has slowly disappeared, leaving night to take its place. Already there are lights twinkling in the cottages below, and shadows of evening, fast gathering in the Fast, give the wild gorge of Gordale a sombre, awe-inspiring aspect. Just ahead, rising directly from the village, the moors raise their solemn heights into the solitudes of the hinterland, their face cleft by that huge — geologically called — Craven Fault, the Cove. The village itself presents to the outer-world — although none the worse for it — a rather deserted air, its deadness only broken by an occasional inhabitant going about his task, for Malham in winter is not the Malham one sees on a hot summer’s afternoon.
And so to tea, and a merry company we made; some thirty strong, and with a good representation of the fair sex, making time fly and, generally having what is known in Lancashire as a "reight good toime.” Of that ride home; quite as enjoyable as the outward journey, for, overhead the stars twinkled celestially, adding to our lamps their feeble quota of light. True enough, it began snowing a little and raining more, but not enough to damp our spirits. So, with a "Good night," Saturday draws to a close, giving place to a newer day-—Sunday.
Blue noses, steaming breath, thick scarves and, leather gloves. Why all this paraphernalia? Of course, I had forgotten to tell you that over-night Jack Frost had paid one of his fleeting visits, which have been.the feature of the past winter, and left behind a world of ice, hoar-frost, and - decidedly noticeable — a nip in the air. Seemingly, to our club, as to others seen on.the road. this acted as an incentive, rather than a determent, for at Whalley our numbers were quickly swollen by the arrival of late-comers, until, it was deemed prudent to move lest we should, along with our friends, the Nelson Wheelers, overwhelm the whole village. Of the ride to Preston, little need be mentioned, as a haze overhung the country side practically obliterating the distant surrounding fells, and the only noticeable occurrence was the gradual resignation of Jack Frost giving place to a damp, sodden aspect, the only reminder of what we had left, being occasional, white patches of frost, situated high up in the now near Bleasdale Fells. Preston behind, we quickly sped along the broad highway to Brock and (allow me to mention it for it is important) lunch.
Now for the object of our ride. Sorry, I mean objects — for they were many, according to our tastes. The most important, was to fraternise with the Fylde Section;. the others being, in no order of merit, the railway station, custard pie, and an informal game of football. Why the custard pie, you ask? Ah! suffice it to say that a certain catering establishment situated not fifty miles from here makes the aforementioned pies just like your mother does. Hence their popularity. And the station; well, all I can explain for its attraction is that a spark of that inborn ambition of our childhood days to be an engine driver remains dormant in an obscure corner of our mentality, only awakened with the clanking machinery and the piercing scream of the whistle. And of that, afternoon’s game — that heroic struggle, that-grovelling in the mud, that dogged determination, sportsmanship and cheeriness of the Fylde Section, even unto defeat. Ah! long will it remain in the memories of those who participated, and also in the minds of those spectators whose vociferations rent the air with hope and faith to the losers, and charity to the all-conquering side. Still - those exuberant shouts ring in my ears. Still those exciting combats come across the dim vale of memory — "Play up the Fylde - Come on Nelson ! - A g-g-go—no! - hard lines, Fylde! - Well played, Nelson! - Go it! - We're attacking! - He’s got it! - Shoot! - Go-aaal!! - Hurray! - another for Nelson!" A determined effort from Fylde - a plucky game — there goes the whistle! The game has ended. Bravo, Fylde! Well done, Nelson! We disperse in disorder.
There are various ways in which, we passed the afternoon until tea-time was with. us, and over which we dared not linger too long, being some thirty miles from. home, and the prospects of an east wind to face. That night’s ride, an unforgettable memory, with its long, slow moving stream of jubilant cyclists, its ruby reflectors scintillating in the head-lamps of those in the rear, its pleasant chatter, and above all, its companionship.
Runs for this week-end ave rag follows :— Saturday, February 1st. Halton Moor; meet Langroyd Hall gates, Colne, 2-30. Sunday, Catterick Force; meet Higherford - 9.15; lunch, Horton.