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.
March is a month of varied moods; it can be likened to the ferocity of a lion or the gentleness of a lamb, and truly Sunday presented a mood of its most rigorous type. Winter had visited us and bestowed upon this part of the world a departing gift, a rain-sodden covering of snow, nowhere acceptable.
While riding through the town, it was amusing to notice the suspecting glances and sceptical smiles I received from the people about town, as if they were questioning my sanity; but I heeded them not, knowing. full well that amidst the apparent difficulties there lay treasures unfathomed — that is, unfathomed to those not intimate with nature.
On arriving at the meeting place it was gratifying to find at least one fellow member. there, pacing sentinel-like in a vain endeavour to restore circulation. Eventually the other members began to arrive, some with a cheery "Good morning,” and others with fabulous accounts of snowdrifts and their efforts to surmount them. From their tales we gathered that Haggate and the "Bull and Butcher" were apparently. blotted out, and our own efforts dwindled into insignificance when compared with theirs. However, a start was made and all went "swimmingly,” the only annoyance being the by-wash from motor cars as they sped along the slushy, snow-covered roads.
After our customary pause at Skipton, we slowly mounted the heights to Draughton and then slithered down into Addingham, where the road and low-lying fields were free from winter’s snowy mantle. It was good to see the green meadows and hear the song of the thrush, as if defying winter's harsher moods; but I am afraid other thoughts were predominating - thoughts of an aching void that needed solace and a comfortable armchair before a blazing fire, and these were amply provided at our usual house of call in Ilkley.
Perhaps it was the geniality of the atmosphere that affected him, or maybe he had fed too well, but anyhow one of the party unostentatiously declared that he would, willy-nilly, go to the Cow and Calf Rocks, the object of our run. In spite of their taunts and pessimistic broodings, my enthusiasm prevailed “Yes, I was the guilty person), and, accompanied by a fellow adventurer, I strolled through the spacious streets of that North Country spa, leaving the rest with requests not to bring flowers should we perchance perish from exposure in the cold, stark moors, or bouquets should we return - victorious. Ever mounting higher, we left the residential outskirts of the town behind, and began scrambling up the moors, the snow deepening until it was laborious to walk. Often we fell, but that was of no account, for our objective lay before us. At last we were there, and it was pleasant to pause and view the surrounding scene from the shelter of the overhanging rocks. Below lay the trough-like valley of the Wharfe, in which the spires and roofs of Ilkley nestled. dwarfed into insignificance by the adjacent guardian fells whose snow-covered heights merged into the clouds, making very little skyline distinguishable. Of the rocks, the only resemblance to a cow and calf were their relative, sizes. The parent rock was a huge outcrop of millstone grit towering sheer above us, while the calf, a detached boulder of no mean size, lay a little removed; perching precariously on its side, its whole appearance was one of threatening destruction, should it perchance, be dislodged from its bed and sent bounding down the steep decivity into Ilkley. Like many places in Wharfedale, these rocks have their legendary associations. Long, long ago, how far back nobody seems to know, there dwelt on the neighbouring moors a giant named Rombald, hence the present-day name, Rombald’s Moor. It was during his peregrinations that he chanced to stride from here to some distant eminence, and just as you or I would do in the ordinary course of events: while walking over a stone path, may he crushing a small stone to pieces, so he detached the calf from the parent rock. To judge from the commotion he made and the size of his footprint, he must have reached a tremendous height, in, fact too high to believe; but then, to be too critical in mythical associations is to destroy the glamour of the story, and a legend destroyed is an attraction gone, However, time was passing, and wet feet and blowing sleet do not contribute to comfort; so, retracing our tracks, we arrived in Ilkley to find our companions had fled, leaving behind them information as to their whereabouts. I will not dwell upon the hardships of that ride to Earby, for is it not these trivial difficulties that fade from the memory, leaving only the recollections of the happier moments to predominate?
It was at Earby that we joined our friends, and under the kindly ministrations of our hostess we were soon feeling better; in fact, a cheerful fire, a good tea, and, a musical evening provided afterwards by our hostess’s gramophone, made us positively admit that life was worth living. We had attained that sense of contentment that descends upon you when -you have achieved your object and are enjoying the fruits of the spoil. But all good things come to an end, and so out into the unkind world we went, to slowly ride homeward, and then all turned their respective ways, leaving me to ride with nothing but my thoughts for company.
One cannot help but muse upon the happenings of the day, to inwardly laugh at some humorous incident, to pause in retrospection and note how the ranks of the club change and vary, here and there they fade away, lost to perception, perhaps to return, perhaps not; but still these self-same faces of old greet you smilingly, as in years gone by, persons whose names are synonyms of loyalty. "Still they come and still they go, but I go on for ever,” truly it aptly describes each of those persons. And then to thank those mediums through which I obtain these pleasant recollections, the constituents of that modern magic carpet, the bicycle, and in particular, the club.
It was a few minutes short of 9:30 on Sunday morning as I drifted to a halt at our meeting place at Higherford. There were already five of my fellow members there — much, I might add. to my astonishment — and by half-past, the number had increased: to nine; it would appear that the sentiments of punctuality expounded by our friend "J.H.G.” had made an impression upon my comrades. The morning was fair, and the sun was making the world good to look. upon: as, under the fitting supervisal of a signpost, we awaited the arrival of the “late scholars.” Our quarter of an hour’s grace having elapsed, we betook ourselves once more to our more or less mud-covered bicycles, and officially started upon our run to Black Burton.
We sauntered up Coldweather Hill with a kindly tail wind helping us, past the gaunt tower of Blacko which overlooks a considerable portion of the surrounding country, past the Greystone Inn (prohibited hours, of course), and so to the top. The distance from the top of Coldweather Hill to Gisburn is some three and a half miles, practically all of which is downhill, and a joy to the heart of the cyclist. It affords an ever-changing panorama of Ribblesdale and its mountain environs, an excellent view of our own local Pendle Hill, and a swift and exhilarating spin over an excellent road without the cost of any physical effort. We descended into Gisburn in our usual manner - that is to say, we let our bicycles “rip” to the last moment, and then slammed our brakes on hard and crawled round the ’bus-infected corner at some three miles per hour. The bells of the Parish Church were calling all and sundry to worship as we passed along the village. streets, but I am afraid that we heeded them not. We sped along Ribblesdale to the accompaniment of the clear tones of many a throstle who was giving his love song to the morn. obviously indifferent of the dark clouds that were amassing on the western skyline.
The "Three Dis-graces" (“Derailleur,” “J.H.G,” and myself) were, of course, in our usual position at the rear — probably owing to our flagging energies — where we were able to argue in peace. "Derailleur” and I very patiently propped one another up, whilst our friend “J.H.G." grubbed in the ditches to satisfy himself as to the genus of the various plants that were making their appearance therein. This kind of cycling is, to my mind, ideal: personally. I am quite willing to prop up walls, bridges. hedges, or any other thing as an excuse for a halt.
And so on to Settle, where we arrived just in time to see the rest of the club - who had been there some time - departing for Ingleton. To pass through Settle without a halt was, of course, unthinkable; so we parked our bikes for a short while and gazed upon: life in general and the feminine portion of it in particular (at least "J.H.G" and “Derailleur" did). We were just about to resume our journey, when “Miss Spitfire” rolled up, scant of breath and red of visage. She decided to honour us with her presence, and so we trooped off up Buckhaw Brow together. One would have supposed that, after having disposed of her superfluous energy, the lady in question would have been prepared to ride at a reasonable speed; but we learned, to our sorrow, that woman is ever unreasonable, and we had perforce to put our beef into it to prevent that most humiliating of cycling indignities — being “left” by one of the fair sex. You may be sure that we did not forget to remark upon how much we had been enjoying the run until “Miss Spitfire” joined our number, a sentiment that she heartily reciprocated.
As we neared Ingleton, the rain, which had been threatening us for some time, began to fall at last. We decided not to put. our capes on, so we "sprinted for it," and reached the lunch place only moderately damp. Lunch was in full swing when we arrived, and we lost no time in taking part in the contest. When this important midday necessity had been disposed of, some misguided youth brought out a catalogue of camping equipment. An immediate rush was made by our camping contingent for the possession thereof, and for a good while after nothing was heard but references to fly sheets, guy lines, ground sheets, stoves, nests of pans, portable baths, and baked beans. This latter is, I believe, the staple food of campers; what is more, they really seem to like them. The fact that the rain was coming down in torrents upon the lawn outside made no difference to these optimistic and - (fool)hardy souls. Our runs secretary (who considers that persons who sleep upon the cold, damp earth when they might have been in bed, have got a kink in their mentality) bore the discussion for a while, and then made a frantic dash for his cape, and set off towards Black Burton.
Upon arriving at our destination we gravitated towards the church, but since a christening was about to take place we forbore to enter. We galloped down to the river, over the bridge, and up the opposite slope, which was steep enough to allow of a dismount, and turned round to view the village. Black Burton is rather a quaint place, perched upon a slope; its church, a large, spired structure, dominates the whole village, while the cottages appear to have snuggled as close as possible to its consecrated walls for protection from outside evils (including cyclists, I suppose). But teeming rain does not tend to make protracted halts pleasant, so we continued our journey. Passing through Low Bentham we turned off the main highway at High Bentham, and took to the byways that climb to the edge of the moors. The road here was not so good, and resulted in a minor accident to a wheel, and a puncture. This latter was repaired in the rain, since it did not occur to the boneheads present to take advantage of the friendly shelter of railway bridge about a hundred yards further on.
We were now in the vale of the River Wenning, which ultimately empties: itself into Morecambe Bay, via the River Lune. A small, pastoral valley that is but little removed from the moors; very pleasant, and out of the usual run of motor traffic, and containing numerous species of bird life. The familiar outlines of Ingleborough Hill and its lesser companions, situate across tho valley, were transformed by the low lying clouds into vague, mystic, and un-recognisable shapes. The call of the curlews and peewits were the only sounds to be heard. Above all brooded the spirit of loneliness, a spirit. which, before I started cycling, I neither understood nor cared for, but which I can now (thanks to my friend, the bicycle) enjoy and appreciate.
Keasden, which appears to consist of one church and one farmhouse, was passed without a halt, and we eventually reached Settle soon after five o’clock. and repaired to Hanby's Cafe for our tea. Inside we found our infant friend "Bookoss" contentedly nibbling his rusks. — Being but a youth and seeing that he got home late from our social the previous evening, he must needs stay in bed until dinner time to get his usual twelve hours sleep, and then potter up to the tea place for a little exercise. Tea over with, chairs round the fire were at a premium, but our members are notably considerate of snowy locks, and I managed to secure a seat. Now one of the chief forms of entertainment in a cycling club is that of telling tall stories, and our members appear to he particularly expert at this sort of thing. The more youthful members probably went home on Sunday firmly convinced that it never rains nowadays like it used to - in fact that it never does anything like it used to — that is, if they believed it (which I doubt).
We became convinced at last that it firmly intended to rain all night, so we staggered outside and put on our wet, clammy capes. It was with great joy that I heard "J.H.G.” moaning sorrowfully as he struggled into his oilskins, when I reminded him of a remark that he made earlier in the day to the effect that he wished it would rain because he had nearly forgotten what it was like to wear a cape. He grumpily observed that he supposed there was a reason for everything, but that he could not see the reason for this deluge. None the less, we moved cheerfully homewards over the black, streaming roads, our wheels casting up fountains of spray to the general inconvenience of those behind; through the deserted main streets of Long Preston and Gisburn, and over Coldweather Hill once more. There are times when swift free-wheeling has its disadvantages, and to my mind this was one of them. My front wheel was, with deadly precision, carefully casting a stream of water into my shoes, and I must confess that I did not appreciate it in the least, and that I was devoutly glad when we reached level ground at Higherford. The setts were just as hard as usual. but we heeded them not, for our supper was calling in no unmeasured terms.
The habit of punctuality is a noble attainment, one has only to acquire this exalted manner to appreciate its simplicity in relation to its opposite; it brings forth all that is sublime in man (and lady too); it raises the status of your friends’ estimation of you, and enables you to vaunt before our friends’ misdeeds of unpunctuality.
With these ennobling conceptions passing through my mind, I endeavoured, in an ever losing battle with the wind, to place in the rear the distance between home and Colne the rendezvous. But alas! woe is me! I arrived there full quarter of an hour late; and just in time to see the last of the "early birds" disappearing in the direction of Foulridge. On overtaking them, their first question was for an explanation of my infringement. Naturally, I had an excuse ready, and their believing minds gratefully accepted it, knowing that truthfulness is my greatest virtue. It was at Earby that the first event of the day happened. I scarcely dare tell it, for it brings disgrace upon a few of our members whose pluck, perseverance and capabilities we admired. - However, it happened in this manner:— Earlier in the morning. these vain-glorious persons journeyed to Colne to attend the "long run,” to wit, Knaresborough; full of ambition and lively of spirits, but, at Earby we found them dejected. broken in spirit and with no lust for adventure whatever; the strong east wind had proved victor. It needs little deduction to surmise what they received from the tongues of our satirical friends. — Does not the wise proverb say, "An idle thought and an unsound heart, do not your objects attain."
After a short pause in Skipton we commenced the most interesting part of the outward journey. Passing through Embsay and Eastby, we began that arduous climb up Eastby Bank; it is a steep hill and a long hill, one that necessitates much labour; but its reward amply compensates the energy expended thereon. From the summit, on Halton Moor, unfolded a vista of Wharfedale’s verdant beauty, with the craggy crown of Simon’s Seat rising in piled majesty before us, the rich browns of its bracken clothed heights deeply contrasting with the varied greens of the strata below. Winding out of the valley was the white, ribbon-like road to Pateley Bridge, always (as one far-sighted youth said) uphill, but never down. Eventually we sped down into hospitable Wharfedale, past the one time abode of the Cliffords (Barden Tower), and over the exquisite Barden Bridge to Appletreewick, where lunch was partaken of.
Appletreewick is an unostentatious village, it possesses no palatial hotel, no edifice, no outstanding historical event; its only possession of any extensiveness is its name. However, it does possess a rusticity to a high degree and therein lies its charm. Its only approaches are by narrow and tortuous roads and, being overshadowed in popularity by its nearby companions — Burnsall, Barden Tower and Bolton Abbey — it rarely receives more than a fleeting glance from those passing by; thus it has retained a remarkable degree of unspoiled antiquity. On the green by the roadside are those relics of yesterday’s form of imprisonment — the stocks, a presumption that even this peaceful village had its transgressors. Such are the characteristics of this gem of Wharfedale and to where the C.T.C. adjourned, last Sunday, preparatory to traversing the rough, moorland track over Pockstones Moor.
Our gastronomic cravings being appeased. we wended our way into the heart of the moors; the road gradually assuming a different character, until it was but a merest apology consisting of grassy turf bounded on each side by ruts, and necessitating much walking, to the highermost point some 1,502 feet above sea level. Here we obtained broad vistas of fell and moor rolling away into the dim distance, to where the jagged line of the horizon encircled the cloud be-decked, azure vault above, and here was solitude in abundance, where only the bleat of the sheep and the plaintive "Go back! go back !” of the grouse were heard. At least, it was so before we arrived. Given a Paradise, I can guarantee it will be a veritable Dante’s "inferno” before any appreciable time has passed, after we arrived. Continuing forward, sometimes riding, often walking, we reached, at last, the smooth highway - between Blubberhouses and Bolton Bridge, and taking advantage of the east wind we soon arrived at Draughton for tea.
With tea over our vocal aspirant "Sarkikus" rendered a few selections from his comprehensive repertoire, ably accompanied at the piano by "Joerjud” (a voice from the gallery — “I don’t think"). After which "Bookass" came forward and began thus- "Have you heard this one?” (Another disturbance in the gallery, with cries of "Throw him out" persistently rising above the uproar). After the battle was over — metaphorically speaking — he began narrating a number of stale jokes taken from long past issues of °Tit Bits.” However, the night was passing on, so, having made the necessary preparations, we mounted our bicycles and swiftly sped through Skipton, Thornton and Colne and so home again, under a star-spangled sky, where the pale crescent of the moon occasionally peered from behind the cloudbanks that adorned the western horizon.
- J. H. G.
There was a good deal of frost in the air, as I made my somewhat bumpy passage over the setts of Brierfield and Nelson, to our meeting place at Colne, at which I arrived at 10-5. In spite of the frostiness, there were several stalwarts reclining upon a form, basking in the rather negative warmth of the morning sun. Did I follow their example? No, I did not, I attended to the necessary inflation of my tyres, and then stamped about to restore the circulation in my extremities. Some ladies may be capable of 'treadling’ their bicycles hard enough to keep their feet warm upon the frostiest of mornings, but I am not one of them. At 10-15 our runs secretary, who was leader for the occasion, decided that we had infested the neighbourhood of Langroyd long enough, so we mounted our machines and "wuthered" through the slight covering of snow that lay upon the road, towards the village of Kilnsey, where we were booked for lunch. I will not dwell upon the humorous commonplaces of our outward journey, let it suffice to say that we walked rather more hills than usual in an endeavour to keep our feet warm. At Kilnsey, we had our lunch at the Tennant Arms, which establishment we kept distinctly busy, since our party, strengthened by late-comers, numbered nearly 50 strong.
The immediate needs of the inner man being satisfied, we ambled out into the warm sunshine that was making this already picturesque portion of Wharfedale into a local Eden. Picture, if you can, a rather narrow valley, carpeted by green fields and divided by the clear waters of the Wharfe; bounded on one side by the magnificent Kilnsey Crag, a solid, overhanging mass of limestone, towering above the road, and on the other side by the gradually rising slopes, intersected by innumerable limestone walls, that culminate in the serene, snow-covered bulk of Great Whernside, which paternally overlooks it all. The sun, shining from a brilliant blue sky with an occasional fleecy cloud drifting across it, made the snow a dazzling white, and threw the walls and trees into strong relief. Such was the picture that greeted our eyes as we stepped out of the hotel on to the road : a picture placed within our easy reach by that inexpensive and health-giving friend — the bicycle, There are still a number of cyclists who, at the approach of winter, carefully cover their machines with vaseline and pack them away in either cotton wool or the coal cellar (whichever they deserve) there to rest till the following Easter. If they only knew what they were missing, they would wipe off such vaseline as was unnecessary, fling away the cotton wool and, suitably attired, hie themselves from the smoky streets of their native towns into the fresh open country.
To return to our run. It was almost 9 o’ clock when we left Kilnsey for our objective, which was Mastiles Lane. The intervening time being spent in various ways: some of our members climbed to the top of Kilnsey Crag (by a circuitous route, of course) and were rewarded by a bird’s-eye view of Wharfedale, surrounded by the snow-covered hills; whilst others watched their more athletic friends jumping across a six-foot stream, in the hope that they might fall in: they were, however, doomed to disappointment, alas. Mastiles Lane can hardly be described as an ideal road for wheeled traffic: it is mostly a grass track. abounding with ruts and liberally sprinkled with infant boulders; add to this occasional gates, snow drifts and steep hills, brakes rendered partially inoperative by snow, and you have all the ingredients necessary for an exciting afternoon. Some riders made it so by riding all they possibly could; whilst others, who have now reached the age of discretion (said he, stroking his long, white heard) preferred to take it more easily and enjoy the panorama of the hills clad in their unusual attire. One member, "Womanaiter" by name, got into a rut and came off at speed. He very cordially did it whilst no one was looking, and upon our requesting him to repeat the performance, he looked so fierce that we fled. So passed the afternoon, now walking, now riding, with an occasional break in the form of a snowball fight, until, with the setting sun colouring the hills with a roseate glow, we dropped down into Malham for our much-needed tea.
It was still quite light when we emerged from the Airedale Cafe, after tea, but the source of radiance had changed from King Sol to his lesser bright co-worker, the moon. who was doing her best to fill the breach. Since it was only 6-30, we went for a walk, which, once we were clear of Malham, developed into a hilarious scramble, punctuated by an occasional snowball. All was going well until someone with vocal aspirations began to sing; this was too much, so we fled back to Malham in haste. Lamps were lighted with the usual comments from the dynamo contingent about "those blighters who spend all night, frigging about with their flapping, smelling lamps,” and so upon the road once more. We passed peacefully along under that star-spangled, inverted bowl we call the sky, through Airton, Gargrave, Thornton, Earby and Colne to our respective homes. So passed another enjoyable day awheel.
Variety is the spice of life, and presumably the C.T.C. agreed upon that point in more ways than one, when, last Saturday, they temporarily deserted their cycles and indulged in an evening of gaiety and dancing. The occasion was the popular annual Fancy Dress Dance, which this year, was held in the Co-operative Assembly Room, Albert Street, Nelson. Its popularity was again sincerely confirmed by the large attendance of members and friends, who came, not only from Nelson, Burnley and Colne, but even from such outlying districts as Keighley, Rawtenstall, Darwen, Barnoldswick, and - I nearly forgot it — Brierfield, whereby filling the hall to a comfortable capacity. The Bohemians’ Dance Band was in attendance, and. under their rhythmical influence and the able ministrations of the M.Cs! (Messrs. Hudson and Wood) a choice: selection of dances was enjoyed by an appreciative assembly. Naturally, the outstanding feature of the evening was — apart. from minor spot dance prizes — the grand parade, with the judging of costumes and the presentation of prizes. The result was to the entire satisfaction of all concerned, and the judges (Mr. and Mrs. Dewhurst and Mr. and Mrs, Dixon) are to be commended on the impartial manner in which they dealt with that arduous task, made all the more so by an unusually high standard of costumes.
The following were acknowledged winners in their various classes : Ladies : Neatest, Miss Alston, as “Bonny Prince Charlie"; Original, Miss Emmot. as "Flanders Poppies; second Neatest, Mr. Hudson, as "Masquerade"; Most Original, Mr. Smith, impersonating a Turk; Comic, Mr. Willers, as a clown.
Hereunder I submit a few impressions of that evening's jollity. Having safely negotiated the pass between "Shylock" and the door, without loss to life or limb, I stand, wonderstruck, upon the threshold of a new world. From across the hall drifts in rhythmical concord, the wailings and moanings of a saxophone and cornet, the lilting of a violin, the strains of a piano, and the crash of cymbal and drum; their combined efforts blending into a dreamy waltz. Gradually the floor becomes more and more congested as man and maid rise and take their place amongst the apparently mad, whirling throng. What a riot of colour! What a conglomeration of make-ups! Here a dark-eyed, dusky maiden of the South Sea Isles embraced 1n the arms of a “Questionable Character,” gracefully glide by; there a sleek-faced, almond-eyed "Chink" twist and turn in wild confusion, his gypsy maiden dexterously following in his wake; a pious monk in sackcloth attired, walks sedately by, chatting pleasantly to - whom?: Why, bless me, the very "Mephistopheles" himself, his dark, malicious smile dangerously evident. Jovial clowns rollicking sailors, gypsies, matadors, a convict, a cook, a Turk, pierrots, and Mexicans, the place seems infected with nationalities and impersonations of all kinds. Presumably yonder fellow came with the intention of having a "nap" judging by his apparel. Hi! waiter, bring me a little refreshment, please. What, bring it yourself. Sorry, mistakes will happen, and to whom am I speaking. Ha! allow me, for he is worth knowing, here’s Doodles. Really he is not a bad fellow, although his shiny, red nose and acrobatical capers bespeak of a partiality to intoxicants; he is really suffering from excessive rouge and volability. However, whither I look at his shiny "topper," or his white be-spatted shoes, or his white, be gloved hands, my eyes always deviate to what he affectionately calls a collar. However shall T describe it; for it is beyond me, and also beyond him, not only does it' prod his own ears, but those who have the fortune (or otherwise) to-partner him in dancing. Anyhow, suffice it to say that quite a number of persons enquired if he had acquired gliding as a hobby. Hello! there goes; S-----, deluding himself into the thought that he is doing what he fondly terms waltzing. Well opinions differ. Ha! what is that? . Why, it is D-----! Apparently judging from his contortions, his feet have assumed the ungovernable proportions of a couple of obstinate canal barges; and his partner, a touching image of forbearance, charity, disappointment, and anguish, mentally, morally and physically (sorry, my stock has run out, but any how, she has my deepest sympathy). Well, it is time I waded into the fray, so, with “May I have the pleasure of this dance, please?" — "Certainly, it is all yours,” I seize my opponent — sorry, I mean partner — and proceed to push and kick her round the room.
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.