Shall I go on the long run or the short run? This was the thought that chiefly occupied my mind as I lay in bed on Sunday morning awaiting the signal from my alarm clock to rise and gird my cycling "shorts" about my loins. The sun was shining strongly, and I pictured the sunlit waves beating on the shore at Heysham and Sunderland point, and the Lakeland hills clearly visible across Morecambe Bay. Yes, I would go on the long run. Then the wind moaned in my bedroom chimney (I can sympathise with that wind; I think I should mean, too, when I found myself in a sooty chimney after having scampered over a sparkling sea, and played amongst the trees and hedges in the fields). That wind created another picture, a picture of a cyclist battling his way against a strong wind along the straight, flat roads of Fylde.- He was working hard was that cyclist, and I felt really sorry for him; I thought that he would have been enjoying himself more in the sheltered vale of Chipping or amongst the unruffled trees in Brock Bottoms. And so I reversed my decision and contemplated the short run, for that cyclist was me, the one and only (thank heavens). "Sarkikus.” Please don’t judge, me too harshly, for I had toiled against that wind all the way from Bolton Abbey on the previous evening and I had not quite recovered from the exertion which it entailed.
I leisurely disposed of my breakfast, carefully packed my sandwiches in the saddle-bag of my bicycle, and wheeled that instrument of pleasure out of its usual resting place and into the street. After a preliminary bounce to make sure that no parts were in danger of falling off I mounted my ancient friend and sauntered out of Burnley towards Fence, our meeting place. Of all our meeting places I like Fence the best, chiefly because it does not entail ride over that cyclists’ bugbear — setts, If only the Parish Council would provide some forms for the repose of my weary and ancient body I should consider it ideal. The leader of our run to Bleasdale was twenty minutes late. No prizes are offered for anyone guessing his name, for it was, of course, our never punctual friend “Derailleur.” To him we pointed out the error of his ways, and then started upon our journey. We soon covered the easy miles to Whalley, where - we halted for a few minutes to fortify ourselves with the usual vimto (my bicycle now refuses to go through Whalley without a stop).
We passed through rural Mitton, past Kemple End of Longridge Fell, with its steep steep winding road showing clear cut against the green, and on to Chipping, where we stopped and had an argument about which was the proper road to take. We appealed to the leader, who bravely confessed that he didn’t know, so we instructed our runs secretary to consult his map and show us the right way. The map informed us that we all were right, because we could go either way, so we chose the more promising one, and proceeded to "Toffy Jack’s" for our lunch. The accommodation is rather limited at this homely catering place, but since our energetic youngsters had pushed on ahead and. were disposing of their lunch in the rapid manner common to all young animals, we had not long to wait.
When we emerged into the open air again the younger members began to aid the digestion of their lunch by a hectic game of football in an adjacent field, whilst the ladies, and the ancients draped themselves inelegantly over a form and contemplated the scenery.
Bleasdale is a quiet, sequestered hamlet comprising a solitary church and several scattered farmhouses. A peaceful place almost at the foot of Parlick Pike, whose treeless sides rise evenly to some 1,400 feet above sea level, unbroken by a single wall or hedge. Not a very high hill, as hills go, but a cheerful looking hill, even in unpleasant weather. When the football enthusiasts had got tired of bruising one another’s ankles and wading in the streams to retrieve the ball, we mounted our bicycles and proceeded to Brock Bottoms.
The River Brock — here but a stream — flows through a wooded ravine, the sides of which are steep and stony and almost unrideable on a bicycle. The sides of the path were lined with people who were waiting for the start of a motor-cycle trial; but this did not deter "Derailleur" from trying to ride down. I wish everyone could have seen the farce that followed — it was great. He entertained those people as they had never been entertained before, for after floundering down for several yards and falling off his bicycle several times in the process, he eventually dived head first into shrub, still clinging tenaciously to his machine. The roar of laughter and appreciation that greeted this exploit was never passed that afternoon, not even to greet the winner of the trial.
We did not stay long in Brock Bottoms. The nerve-shattering roar of exhausts drowned the peace and charm of that delightful spot, so we departed for less exciting, but safer parts. "Derailleur" was still busily employed removing the traces of his recent conflict with the shrub from his person; so he and I were the last to leave, and we pushed the pedals round to the best of our ability in an endeavour to overtake our companions. We threaded our way in and out of the lanes that abound in that district, we scampered through Longridge, and we rattled through Ribchester, but still we did not see them.
When we arrived at the tea-place at Copster Green, "Woman-hater,” our runs secretary, and one or two others, were there. But, where oh where were Mr. Georjud, Mrs. Georjud and the dozen or so little Georjuds when we had been chasing so industriously for the last hour? No answer was forthcoming, so we began our tea — for the healthy appetite engendered by cycling does not brook any delay — and we had nearly satisfied the inner man when the missing ones rolled up.
A disconsolate looking mob, I thought. It appeared that they had put their trust in "Georjud," but he, the wop — whatever that is! - had led them astray. He had led them up and down a varied selection of lanes, until they reached the far end of a cul-de-sac. This was the last straw. I was given to understand that it was only the tears and pleadings of his wife that saved "Georjud" from being slaughtered on the spot by his incensed fellow-members. Please don’t suggest that we buy him a map: he has one; the trouble is that he will persist in studying it the wrong side up.
A short stroll after tea, and then we began our homeward journey. We only stopped a few minutes in Whalley, for the reek of the 'buses made it an unpleasant place to linger in. Fence was soon reached, and with a chorus of "Good nights," we of Burnley, departed from our Nelson friends and skimmed down Greenhead Lane towards home.
So ended another day awheel; an ordinary day without any special event or awe-inspiring scenery, but a very enjoyable one, nevertheless — thanks to the bicycle and the companionship of my fellow C.T.C. members.