There are cyclists who profess to dislike gatherings such as that held by the North Lancashire District Association of the Cyclists’ Touring Club at grey little Bolton-by-Bowland last week-end. They hold rallies to be a sorry waste of time. They are mostly folk who, in search of the label "hard-rider," prefer to spend most of their cycling lives gazing at their clubmates backs for upwards of a hundred miles. To them their own little club, or their tiny clique, or their insignificant selves, is the be-all and end-all of the cycling movement.

Now I, by reason of my continually blundering into and out of all manner of cycling adventure, have found myself the possessor of a reputation for toughness, a reputation which is quite undeserved, but nevertheless, not really unacceptable to me. I be]ieve I glean far greater pleasure from my solo jaunts than from those taken in company; I believe, like every other cyclist, that I am the embodiment of all that’s good and excellent in the modern wheelman. But I do realise that the game is bigger than the player and, for the fifth year in succession, I hied me to the Boltun-by-Bowland meet and enjoyed it.

At Bolton-by-Bowland.

How could I do otherwise when I saw the Bedouins of the Bicycle come along three hundred strong and pitch a couple of hundred little tents with me? When a May snowfall spread royal ermine upon the broad shoulders of nearby Pendla? When, a bare half-hour later, May sunshine beat down on me whilst I, in company with about fifty others, chased a football about and was assaulted by fellow cyclists with joyous brutality? When, even though Jack Frost sent his chilly breath into my tent at night, I awoke to find the world a-shimmer with his silver? When there were so many merry meetings with cycling friends from all over the broad North of England? When a certain pillar of the Northern Cavern and Fell Club, in merry jest, tossed my soap into my stewing steak and was roundly chided for taking such liberties with a fellow’s soap? When the Big Fellow’s beans sturdily withstood hours of boiling and his pancakes were an unexpected success ?

At two p.m., on the village green, the usual speechmaking began. It must be confessed that the speeches ran, for the most part, along familiar lines. "Petronella" and "Hodites" told us that cycling is the best of games, that the Cyclists’ Touring Club was the best of all clubs,. and that cyclists, principally because they are cyclists, are the best, noblest, and most lofty in spirit of all humans. We were rather inclined to grant that that was so.

Backbone of the Club & the Game.

G. H. Stancer, Secretary to the C. T. C., and alias "Robin Hood," told us that Lancashire and Yorkshire riders were the backbone of the club and the game. And not one of the thousand of Lancashire and Yorkshire riders about him dared to contradict.

All three, of charming personallty, all holdmg speakers, but — alas — all preaching to the already converted.

C. W. Harvey, the young schoolmaster from Manchester, who is working like a tribe of negroes for the Youth Hostels Association, broke new ground by telling us of the origin, growth, and working of the youth hostels movement in this country. Then W. T. Palmer, a F.R.G.S., a prolific and (rare bird among our flock of present-day ont-of-doors scribes!) constructive and instructive writer upon wayfaring, made his way to the stone cross in mid-green, and as he gave his opening words I hugged my mischief-loving self! Here was one who was about to sound a note of challenge, to propound a much-needed gospel to heathen !

He chided his predecessors in the speechmaking for speaking overmuch of matters of the road, told us to get off the road, even off the by-lanes, into the mountains, on to the crag, to the camp far off the beaten track. His speech was the shortest of the afternoon, and much too short, since his subject was as big as the entire world. There may have been those present who liked not the message of W. T. Palmer. Some would doubtless take it as a boosting of walking, camping, and rock-climbing at the expense of cycling; possibly hold that his words were, if not hostile, distinctly discordant. Lots of cyclists are that way inclined; heathens who, in their blindness, bow down to the wood and stone of road-riding, and believe themselves to be worshipping cycling.

Mastering Mountain Heights.

One cycling-hiking scribe has recently heard from one of this type of cyclist that he ought to pay more attention to track racing, road time trials, cyclists’ rallies, stop mooning around mountain and moorland, and be a real cyclist. I have been similarly castigated time and again, and have taken the criticisms so much to heart that I have offered to swap my mount for a set of knitting needles.

The cyclist - pure - and - simple often shakes his head over the cycle-adventurer. He does not understand our desire to make the cycle and cycling a means to the end of a more fuller exploration of the out-of-doors. He sees nothing else in our backsliding from the one-day Sunday run, from the company of a club of fellow cyclists, our forsaking of the inn or boarding-house for the light-weight tent, our mastering of mountain heights our clawing up crags, our probing in potholes, except a desire to be dubbed "tough".  He is, I sometimes fear, rather inclined to regard our sun-burned, swaggering, and somewhat scruffy selves as being a distinct disgrace to a most dignified pastime. And he would certainly not approve of W. T. Palmer’s encouraging us in these sorry carryings on!

The Lakes and Snowdonia.

Seriously, though, there are many cyclists of the type I have twitted who would profit by following the advice of W. T, P. Many there are, I know, who could not if they would, those who have domestic ties or who lack time for intensive cycling, and have but one day per week or a Bank Holiday, but there are hundreds of other riders who can, if they will, find a fuller and longer cycling life, greater knowledge and strength of character, by leaving the road and the cycle occasionally. If they will but once loosen their grip on the handlebar and fix it upon the staff of the banner with a strange device they will find, on the summit of their first big mountain a far greater pleasure, feel in the caress of the big winds a bigger benison than ever was theirs when, on their cycles, they first made Blaclcpool, Boundary Hill, or Windermere; realise that this conquest pales into insignificance those of the first passing of the century or the double century in a day awheel.

There are, too, cycling clubs who would be wise to encourage their members to get away from the beaten track. Some, I know, have their camping sections, and others have occasional ramble runs, but these, admirable though they are, do not quite fill the need since they mostly toy with walking and ignore serious fell walking and climbing. The clubs should make a genuine effort and stand aside while the cyclists fall victims to the spell of the mountains. That they will fall is assured. I know of at least four parties from what is officially my local club who will be mountaineering in the Lakes and Snowdonia this Whitsun. Some of them will be tackling some fairly stiff pieces of rock-climbing. And all because, a few vears ago, I wheedled a dozen clubmates up to the crest of Helvellyn.