Oyes! Oyes! Come gather round the infant "Bookoss" while I unfold to you the dastardly plot that was enacted on Sunday. It was like this ’ere: "J.H:G.,” the bonehead, had got the idea that the club was getting fat, so he evolved a slimming process called a mystery competition. His colleague in crime was: "Sarkikus,” and the following is the result of their combined plotting. Brrr!
Just a minute, though; there’s no hurry. All, pray, be seated; lock the doors to prevent the audience escaping, and we will commence the recital properly. "Twas about; 10-15 a.m. as I mounted my trusty steed and slid through the streets of Burnley en-route for Austwick, the lunch place. Nelson was soon passed, and so was I up Blacko; for with an "Aye! Aye!” the burly form of "Squire,” together with his slim companion, "Jimmy,” bowled past. This put me on my mettle, and with a "do or die" expression I gave chase. We topped Coldweather Hill, and under the kindly influence of a following wind we bowled down to Gisburn at about thirty miles per hour.
Through Gisburn, the first evidence of the club was observed, to wit one of the “Three (Dis)Graces" contentedly pottering on with two other members. From this I deduced the club was in Settle. On, on we swept, up the fair vale of the Ribble, the distant peaks and hills being shrouded in mist. Then, behold! the second "(Dis)Grace,” with a lady companion,” a succulent. orange in his fist, and traces of orange from ear to ear. We left them standing, almost, and careered on to Settle. Here I parted company with the indefatigable trio, proceeding alone at a more respectable pace. At the "Ebb and Flow Well" three of the club were busy trying to empty it, but with little success. Having drank their fill, they reeled on their way. And now Buckhaw Brow, that nightmare to tired cyclists. But: we were fresh, and galloped over it with scarce a thought, reaching Austwick shortly afterwards to find the majority of the club stowing away their "eats" where it is appreciated most. We joined the bun fight, sinking back into our chairs afterwards with sighs of satisfaction.
When all: were replete "J.H.G.” started his round; mulcting us of threepence as entrance fee to his "blinding" contests. It was then about 1-30. p.m. Bullying here and there, he succeeded in obtaining twenty-seven hapless victims. The affair was to commence with a short paper-chase, so "J.H.G.” and "Jimnut" started. off, laying the trail as they progressed. We were not due to-start until 2-15, the ladies going at 2 o’clock. It was while waiting that we understood the meaning of "zero hour,” "Squire” relieving the tension somewhat by obliging with trick cycling. The 2 o’clock came, and the ladies, obtaining sealed envelopes containing the name of the tea place, which had only to be opened in cases of necessity, forged ahead amid ironical cheers. At 2-15 we grabbed our envelopes, offered up fervent prayers, girded our loins, and we were off.
The trail was thickly laid, only to prove false time after time. Up here; down there; along here. Oh crumbs! "J.H.G." would have blushed: in shame had he but heard: how we mentally reviled him. Then a lucky cast proved correct, and with cheers we pounded up the track which leads to Sulber Nick. And what a track Imagine a steep declivity, thickly strewn with boulders, mud, and occasionally pools of water. Amid gasps we alternately rode and ran, things not being helped by the sight of those lucky chaps who had struck the trail straightway shooting wildly downwards on our way to the second check. Hooray! The first check! He retreated nervously at the sight of our grim expressions. Whee! We skidded to a standstill, checked in. and received instructions to go to Clapham, find the hidden cyclist, and ask for some solution. About turn. We retraced our way, crashed back to Austwick, joined the main road, and went on to Clapham. The hidden cyclist was soon detected. He was surrounded by riders, some of whom had been there a quarter of an hour vainly endeavouring to solve "Ssssttrreeoc.” Now I ask you, who could connect this- seemingly madman’s ravings with the village of Cross "Streets? Well, no matter. That is what it was; so we went back over our tracks again into a head wind, dragging our weary limbs to Cross Streets. Here we were handed this marvellous epistle, "Convulsive hilarity in a silly puerile manner; the medium between light and oil.” This put the tin hat on things, and many and varied were the defamations that were heaped on the luckless head of "J.H.G.” After much brain-wracking, it was deciphered, and with cries of “Eureka" we swept on to Giggleswick. Up Buckhaw again, over the crest we toiled, coasted furiously down the other side, and almost fell at the feet of the checker stationed there. He had no sympathy for us, and rudely handed round papers: on which were drawn sections of a map (sic) of the surrounding district. A definite trail had to be followed; terminating at "X,” the tea place. There was no rest for the wicked, so off we staggered. We were fast reaching that state where nothing mattered, being more or less automatons. Braking, pedalling; and walking were all done automatically. Up hill, down dale, on and on, time seemed an eternity, until with a start we sat up and took notice. Familiar scenes were about us, the map was skirting the foot of Buckhaw, and then the solution of it struck us. With fresh vigour we spurted painfully forward, round a last bend, to find ourselves back in dear old Austwick. Never had a village been sweeter to the vision. Uttering feeble cries of joy, we tottered up to the checker, parked our machines, and simultaneously fell panting on the grass. Five minutes later, with breathing becoming less laboured, we sat up to take stock of the situation. After much consideration, we decided that save for the loss of some adipose tissue we did not feel so bad. In fact, a wash, a much needed, well-earned tea, and we were as new men. In the meantime, rider after rider rolled in, some having completed the course, others.having missed various checks. We learnt that "Georjud" had finished first, but unwittingly had missed the first check. This, of course, ruled him out of order. The arrival of the "Womanhater" somewhat exhausted was greeted with laughter. He arrived breathing fire and slaughter, and had to be forcibly restrained from attacking “J.H.G.” In the ladies section; the "Glaxo Baby." finished first, albeit a good time. after the gents. "Miss Spitfire" showed up later; a pale, wan host. almost at the point of collapse.
Tea over, it was announced that three riders, having completed the course. checked in everywhere, produced their envelopes un-opened, had finished together first. There were two prizes only, vouchers to the value of 5s. and 2s. 6d. Therefore these were pooled, and the total sum was divided among them. The three were "Derailleur,” “Bobelly" and "Raymit,” and congratulations or sympathies, as the case may be, are due to them. (At the time of going to press the three and doing well, and a further bulletin may be issued later). The prizes having been distributed, a perfect babel broke forth as each one tried to explain just how and where they had gone astray. Some had roamed the moors in a quest to find the first check. Some had never seen any checks at all; while others had packed up in disgust; and thus the tale ran on. It was at this stage that a plaintive wail was heard, investigation of which revealed "Mrs. Georjud" trying to pocket a "Chuckles" in the shape of a chicken. Gently we took it from her, replaced it where it came from, and lest she should try to abduct it again a move was made homewards. After the hectic events of the afternoon. we pursued our way soberly; and as we glided along under a star-spangled sky, a sense of utter peace seemed to descend upon us.