WELL, 1925 is still with us and no racing news has yet been recorded, but before proceeding to that topic some echoes of the Easter Tour which came to hand during April may be worth printing. On the l3th of April, having got without "The Cheshire Rogues", the local press had the following observations to make : "The advisability of offering a Civic Address had been discussed by the Council but Councillor Smith, who claimed to know the Club, said he strongly suspected that they would take anything offered to them. The idea was abandoned. The oldest inhabitant stoutly averred that seeing such a lot of fine fellows made him feel thirsty. His logic was not understood. The Castle had been a ruin for some considerable time and, although its stones had been considerably re-arranged, the visitors left the whole of the material there. Mr. Tyte, landlord of the White Horse, gave the following statistics concerning his guests of the weekend. If the whole of the shells of the eggs consumed by them were placed end-to-end they would reach part of the way from Land's End to John-o'-Groat's. If all the spectacles smashed were heaped together they would be sufficient to effect a puncture, and if the amount of draught cider consumed was added together the draught would become a cyclone."
And now for some racing news. The Cheadle Hulme "25" did not provide any spectacular rides but G. B. Orrell secured fastest time with 1-13-52. F. Hancock was two minutes slower and H. Bracewell a further minute behind. In the Grosvenor Wheelers "25" F. Hancock accomplished a fastest time ride of 1-14-54 and L. Johnson pulled off a fastest time, 1-15-0, in the Premier Wheelers "25". Despite somewhat poor times, our lads were certainly putting us on the map very early in the season. Invitations were to hand for three Open "50's" the Yorkshire Road Club, Manchester Wheelers and the Palatine C.C. of Blackpool.
Our first event of the season, the "25", attracted an entry of twenty, of whom seventeen started and sixteen finished. A useful and very competitive field of which nine riders clocked inside "evens", the hallmark of a good ride at this period. N. Hannaford, who on this occasion escaped his usual puncture, took second handicap along with fastest time of 1-10-35. A splendid ride for a very wet morning. C. Danby with 1-11-14 less three and a half minutes' allowance was first and L. Johnson's 1-12-26 less three minutes filled the third place. W. Green, riding from scratch, did 1-12-15. This was our first Sunday morning event and its success gladdened the hearts of all concerned. How nice it was to be. able to use main roads which were devoid of traffic, except for an occasional milk float. The riders were delighted and even the checkers and marshals agreed that there was something to be said for turning out to fit in with a 7-0 a.m. start. It might even prove to be attractive on a fine morning.
G. B. Orrell opened his season with some really good "50's". The Cheadle Hulme in 2-25-46 and two Anfield's in 2-26-36 and 2-26-30 respectively. Here indeed was an up-and-coming rider whom competitors would find it difficult to hold.
In the Grosvenor Wheelers "50" F. Hancock's 2-34-35 gave him first and fastest, and in the Crewe Road Club "25" A. Mercer did a very useful 1-12-3. We had two pairs up in the Marlboro' Tandem "50" and there was only eighteen seconds between them. W. Bailey and G. F. Mundell 2-10-22 and the H. Bracewell-A. Dearden combination 2-10-40. A couple of very good rides. Meantime, invitations to all the "Opens" continued to roll in.
The club "50" on the l4th of June was another great success. There was a gathering of the clans on the previous evening and on the Sunday morning the various parties converged on the Red Cow, with as little noise as possible, for early breakfast. One member observed that 4-0 am. was hardly a human hour at which to rise and evinced mirth of a somewhat forced character. During the meal the only policeman on duty in the area displayed considerable interest in the number of racing machines to be seen in the hotel yard. There were nineteen entries and twelve finishers. Two failed to start and the puncture fiend put five competitors out of the running. Our good friend and member, Cy Anderson, who was timing all club events, despatched the first man at 5-32 a.m. and the remainder at minute intervals. Light rain commenced to fall as the last man was sent on his journey, and it continued throughout the ride, but it was not a bad morning for the fixture. L. Johnson's 2-28-46 was a good fastest time, and N. Hannaford was only twenty-two seconds slower. Handicaps were taken by W. Green, 2-30-0 less ten minutes; S. McConville, 2-36-8 less twelve minutes, and H. Bracewell, 2-32-13 less eight minutes. Our pianist member, H. Walshaw, was rather anxious to see what men looked like after twenty-five miles of struggle and so it was arranged that he and myself by means of his so-and-so Rover car should take the check at Church Lawton, the turning point. On the crest of Bucklow Hill the Rover decided to blow its big end. Fortunately for us at that early hour a member of another club whom we had passed a few miles back came on the scene and offered to do the check for us. He covered the nineteen miles in an hour, just in time to turn the first man. A real clubman ! The Sunday morning idea had produced another successful and happy event.
We were not placed in the Manchester Wheelers Open "50". Our fastest man, L. Johnson, recorded 2-30-28, with F. Hancock four minutes slower. As a matter of interest, and an opportunity for rather pointed comment on the part of present-day riders, the East Liverpool Wheelers intimated that their Open "50" would this year be restricted to men who had already beaten 2-45-0.
Our first venture at promoting an Open event, the Twelve Hours Scratch Road Ride, the first to be held in the Manchester district, took place on the 25th of July. There were thirty-one entries and of these three failed to start. Mr. N. M. Higham, N.R.R.A., despatched the first man at 7-1 a.m. on a misty and fairly cool morning. Punctures claimed several victims before the first feed, at the Ancient Briton, was reached. Bad patches of road were encountered on the way to Tern Hill and several more punctures were sustained. At this point F. Hancock, who was fifteenth on the card, now led the field. Another of our hopes, N. Hannaford, had retired. At the fourth feed, 138 miles, it looked as though Hancock, who had punctured twice, could be the victor, and indeed he was. His 199 ¾ was nearly thirteen miles better than his nearest rival, Brewis of the East Liverpool Wheelers, who in turn led the third man, Norris of his own club, by half a mile. It was jolly hard luck that for the second year in succession Hancock had missed his objective, the double century, by such narrow margin. Had he suffered only one puncture his goal would have been reached. Nevertheless, he had done a really first class ride and we were proud of him. Of the twenty-eight starters only fifteen finished and these included men of the Manchester Wheelers, Crewe Road Club, Walton C. & A.C., Mersey Roads Club, Cheadle Hulme Club, Wallasey Boro' C.C., and Grosvenor Wheelers, in addition to those already referred to. Apart from deflations, our first endeavour in the field of "Opens" was voted a great success and the excellence of the feeding, etc. arrangements, was warmly commented upon by members of many of the visiting clubs. But then, food was ever our strong line !
During this interesting year, 1925, we were called upon to bow to "Sport and Play" in respect of the following : "The Cheshire Roads Club is having quite a lively time this season, and mix their tours and competitions in the most entertaining manner for their members. They also have a bright and chatty club journal and that adds to the enjoyment."
Our last road event of the season, a "50", proved to be the must successful of this year's series. The morning was perfect and a rather remarkable absence of punctures helped affairs materially. There were seventeen entries, including a tandem pair, and of these the fourteen starters all finished something almost unheard of. Cy Anderson sent the first man off at 5-32 a.m. Considering the early hour, there was quite a crowd in the vicinity of the start and Oak Cottage, Allostock, was a hive of industry. It was here that Teddy Sproston's Lancia made one of its infrequent appearances, on this occasion it had not become "ditched". Walshaw's Rover was again roadworthy and he and his victim succeeded in reaching Church Lawton, 36 miles. Here, L. Johnson with a useful lead showed promise of doing fastest time. Indeed he held his position to within five miles of the finish where he was half a minute faster than his challengers, N. Hannaford and C. Danby. Over the last few miles, however, Hannaford, from scratch, asserted himself and claimed the premier honour with 2-26-11, followed by Danby who was only ten seconds slower and Johnson a further thirty-nine seconds in arrears. In all, five men beat "evens" and the slowest finisher was credited with 2-41-1 which off the eighteen minute mark gave him second handicap prize. C. Danby off five minutes was first in the handicap and A. Dearden with a 2-37-5 ride, less twelve minutes, took third handicap. The other scratch man, L. Johnson, finished in 2-27-0. The tandem pair, W. Bailey and G. F. Mundell, did 2-13-39. It was, in every respect, a grand outing.
In the East Liverpool Wheelers "50", C. Danby rode an unplaced 2-37-14. F. Hancock represented us in the Anerley Twelve Hours' Ride. After covering the first fifty miles in 2-27-0 and the century in 5-28-0, he met with a peck of trouble, including three punctures and repeated unshipping of his chain, and was, unfortunately, compelled to retire at 138 miles. L. Johnson caused folk to sit up and take notice when it was revealed that his average times for all races this season was well inside "evens". The Palatine Open "50", run on a Lancashire course, did not produce any outstanding rides by our men. Our fastest man, L. Johnson, did 2-37-1. C. Danby was two minutes slower and H. Bracewell a further two minutes behind. Hannaford maintained the two minutes sequence with 2-43-0, but that included his almost inevitable puncture. In the Leeds Road Club Twelve Hours, F. Hancock carried our colours to victory by covering the greatest distance, 208 miles. This was but quarter of a mile short of the then N.R.R.A. record. A wonderful ride. Andy Wilson finished seventh, and his 190 ¼ miles gained for him the C.R.C. Gold Standard. Andy had a grievance in that the promoting club fed him on bread
and jam. Evidently, they had not heard of the Beef Steak Club.
The end of the year brought in the resignations of N. Hannaford, G. B. Orrell (two of our fastest men) and H. Morrell to whom we owed so much in respect of his literary ability as reflected in the "News" during his eminently successful period as Editor. We said adieu to them all, with much regret, and sought solace in the knowledge that a steady influx of new blood had continued throughout the year.
The Swan Hotel, Bollington, again provided the scene for the A.G.M. The Racing Secretary's Report dealt with the unbounded success of the early Sunday morning racing programme, due thanks being recorded to Cy Anderson who had timed each event with conspicuous ability. It was he who had opposed the Sunday motion on the ground that accommodation would not be forthcoming. It was typical of the man to row in so wholeheartedly even though the vote had gone against him. A perfect club man if ever there was one. The general appreciation expressed by visitors and competitors from other clubs in connexion with the Twelve Hours Scratch Ride gave much satisfaction, and a reminder that one of ours had covered the greatest distance in that event caused our chests to swell again in acknowledgement.
The Hon. Treasurer's Report, which disclosed that we were living rather seriously beyond our income, was not so welcome. An increase in income or, alternatively, a curtailment of expenditure was inevitable. The next item on the agenda proposed to increase the Annual Subscription, and after considerable discussion it was defeated by fifteen votes to nine. As an almost necessary corollary, W. Bailey's motion to again promote an Open Twelve Hours Scratch Ride was defeated by seventeen votes to six. It seemed a pity that we could not repeat an event which, in its one year of existence, had been such an unqualified success. The racing programme for 1926 was eventually fixed at one "25", two "50's" and a Twelve Hours Standard Medal Ride. A proposition to the effect that all prize winners must attend at least ten club runs, exclusive of club races, during the year before becoming eligible to receive a prize was carried by sixteen votes to four. The racing members came out strongly in favour of the proposition.
We were anxious to preserve the success of Sunday morning events and felt rather concerned that some other clubs inclined to the use of Sunday afternoon. It was, therefore, decided by an overwhelming majority that a member must not compete in any Sunday event in the name of the Club without the prior agreement of the committee or that of the Racing Secretary. It was felt that the position would, thereby, be adequately safeguarded. With the exception that H. Wilson was appointed Captain, all retiring officers were re-elected. And so ended 1925, a year full of interest and activity and not by any means devoid of success.
Enter 1926. This was our thirteenth year of life, and a year of solid achievement. So much for superstition.
Each year brought its joys on the road, successes by our racing men, bye-bye's to retiring friends and welcomes to new members. The coming year was no exception. We still adhered to many of the excellent feeding establishments which had served us so well over many years. The Stanley Arms, Macclesfield Forest; the Bars Hotel, Chester; Tan House Farm, Buglawton; the Ring-o'-Bells, Daresbury; the Leigh Arms Hotel, Acton Bridge; Oak Cottage, Allostock; Sam Wood's, Siddington; Mrs. Cliffe's, Somerford; Higher Mainwood Farm, Ringway, etc., and for those who by reason of restricted accommodation and/or cooking facilities had years ago found it impossible to cater for our increasing numbers we still had a warm corner in our hearts and happy recollections. In that connexion, I find myself at a loss to determine why the Lamb Hotel, Nantwich, had disappeared from our fixtures. It was a first-class house both as regards the luncheon and the accommodation offered. I always associate it in particular with the period during which that estimable personality Arthur Newsholme held the Captaincy of the club. It was his undisputed pleasure and privilege to pay for coffee all round after lunch at the Lamb, and we usually mustered quite a big crowd. At this period, 1926, Newsholme was again in Canada on business and we missed his ever cheerful countenance. His keenness for cycling, which originally sprang from C.T.C. membership, was such that had there been a club exclusively for those who motored for business but cycled for pleasure I'm sure that Newsholme would have been its President.
The Annual Dinner came round again and once more we trooped into the Exchange Hotel to be dined, wined and entertained in a most enjoyable manner. Walshaw had deserted us but his successor at the piano, a Mr. Rochester, gave expression in a truly delightful manner to all the charm of Beethoven's sonatas. Messrs. Harrison and Pole, two of our old friends, roused us with "The Battle Eve" and, after making a vain effort to escape during the applause, gave us an encore "The Moon hath Raised." Miss Roberts, who deserves special mention as the only lady who figured on the programme, informed us in dulcet tones that "Love's a Merchant." One of our Sub-captains, Halford by name, was almost helped to his feet to tell us about "Maire my Girl" which he did so enjoyably that he was dragged on again to render "Captain Mac." We were quite proud of this spot of C.R.C. talent. Friend Harrison gave the ever young "Gay Highway", supported, or perhaps I should say let down, in the chorus by the C.R.C. massed choir. As an encore, we were treated to "Because I were Shy" which, though not good grammar, was voted to be good sense. "The Garden of Happiness" rendered by that stalwart of many C.R.C. Annual Dinners, Fred Crowe, brought us to the usual toasts. These were followed by Mr. Robson informing us that "The Vicar and I will be there." Our annual function would not be complete without Mr. Harrison singing "My Friend." By now, time was against us and before the audible appreciation had completely died down Fred Crowe led the choristers in "The Mermaid", which was always our last effort prior to Auld Lang Syne and the National Anthem. It was a good show, quite up to the standard of previous similar occasions.
It was in April of this year that Smith Parker joined the club, and you may wonder why this special mention. I could tell you here, but shall we let the reason dawn gradually? It's far more pleasurable that way. Suffice for the present to say that we owe him a lot.
We decided to break new ground for the Easter Tour and that delightful centre, Coniston, was selected. About a dozen members made their way by devious routes to the Headquarters at Holly How where the substantial supper, followed by lots of coffee taken around the fire, created a good impression. Saturday morning, not very early, found the party moving via Ambleside, Rydal Water and Grasmere to the Traveller's Rest at the foot of Dunmail Raise where all fortified themselves against the coming 800 foot climb. And so on to Keswick for lunch. It had been intended to return via Ullswater and Kirkstone Pass but the party weakened and decided to reverse the morning's itinerary. As a little diversion, three stout hearts "did" the far shore of Thirlmere. After supper a concert and card party filled in the late evening pleasantly.
On Sunday the party could not reach unanimity regarding a route so they split. Two only opted for a ride-cum-walk over Wrynose Pass and reported a very enjoyable and satisfying day. The remainder chose the Hawkshead district, and who could go wrong for scenery in that area? Hawkshead itself is one of the few remaining old world English villages of great charm. I have heard it said that the inhabitants take their doorsteps inside at dusk lest unwary pedestrians fall over them. Some of the members voted it the best day out ever. Only a twelve to fifteen miles tramp, but amidst some of Lakeland's finest scenery. When one turns his back on Lakeland there is little to be said for the homeward trip, which Easter Monday inevitably brings along. A potter as far as Ambleside, and who could ever rush along that lovely stretch, after which the pace gradually quickened until at Preston the party went their various ways, via road or rail.
On the l7th of March the A.G.M. of the N.R.R.A. was with us once again, and good news came forth. Our resolution for the deletion of the rule which prohibited Sunday record attempts carried by the staggering majority of twenty-eight to one. I, too, can recall once having been in a glorious minority of one, but it was not me on this occasion. Well, the opposition had simply ceased to exist, and yet another hard fought battle had been won. Congratulations on our success were received from many clubs and in the following years many, if not all, of the Northern records were given figures more in keeping with current speeds on the road. In that transformation our lads played a worthy part.
In the Grosvenor Wheelers "25" F. Hancock rode an unplaced 1-11-50, and in the Cheadle Hulme "25", riding a tricycle, he recorded 1-20-38. Our representative in the Manchester Wheelers "25", G. R. M. Brierley, did 1-13-46.
F. Hancock was our first member to take advantage of Sunday for a record attempt. Starting at Knutsford on the l6th of May, with the Twelve Hours N.R.R.A. Tricycle Record as his objective, he rode well within his schedule throughout and finished in good shape with 188 miles to his credit. This added 11 ½ miles to R. A. Fulton's (Anfield B.C.) accomplishment of sixteen years earlier. It was appropriate that the first N.R.R.A. record broken on a Sunday was by a member of this Club. Hancock was a brilliant tricyclist and the "50" and "100" Northern Tricycle Records were soon to be annexed by him, but he was then riding under Grosvenor Wheelers colours.
Our first event of the season, the "25", run off on the 9th of May found eighteen competitors, all of whom finished, facing the Timekeeper and amongst them were no less than four scratch men, S. Parker, C. Danby, G. E. Kennerley and A. Mercer. Fastest, 1-9-20, and first handicap were taken by Parker, J. B. Atherton took second handicap with 1-18-17 and an allowance of eight minutes, and S. J. Blount's 1-14-21 with a four minutes' allowance accounted for third handicap. The other three scratch men recorded 1-13-38, 1-11-44, and 1-14-56 respectively. Parker was fastest by two minutes twenty four seconds. We began to take notice. In the Grosvenor Wheelers "50", the day before the above event, F. Hancock deserted the broad gauge machine and took fastest time and third handicap with a ride of 2-32-30. The Anfield "100" produced an unplaced 5-37-33 for L. Johnson, and in the Marlboro' Tandem "50" on the 30th of May our representatives, H. Bracewell-A. Dearden and W. Bailey-G. F. Mundell recorded 2-11-39 and 2-17-58 respectively. Thus the order of last year in this event was reversed.
The first Club "50" of the season drew an entry of twenty-two, and there was only one non-starter. F. Hancock and C. Danby shared the honour of scratch. Again, S. Parker, two minutes allowance, took first and fastest with an outstanding performance of 2-23-30 which was nearly eight minutes better than the second fastest, F. Hancock. F. W. North with 2-32-21 less ten minutes was second in the handicap and H. Bracewell and H. Wilson tied for third position. Of the twenty-one starters there were only two non-finishers - a very gratifying result. Parker's first and fastest in both club events threatened to give the handicappers a headache.
G. E. Kennerley was riding well, as a 1-9-5 in the Cranford Wheelers "25" disclosed. To get inside 1-10-0 was an enviable accomplishment in 1926. Times were slow in the Grosvenor Wheelers Open "50" and the best of our seven representatives was S. Parker who returned 2-35-16, beating F. Hancock by a minute and a half. In the Sharrow "50" a fortnight later F. Hancock was unplaced with a 2-30-53 effort.
The Twelve Hours Standard Medal Ride on the 21st of August was just as successful as its predecessors, and once again that coveted 200 miles was missed by a very narrow margin. There were fourteen entrants, all of whom started, and eleven finishers. Amongst those who retired was F. Hancock. We were disappointed because, in view of his recent annexation of the Twelve Hours Tricycle Record, we thought that something really spectacular might emerge. There was a great battle, with ever changing fortunes, between F. W. North and H. Bracewell. At 99 miles the latter had a lead of three minutes but North was riding very strongly and could not be held in the latter stages. He finished fresh as paint with 199 ¾ miles to his credit, and Bracewell's 193 miles gave him second place. They had beaten the Gold Standard distance handsomely. J. B. Atherton, 184 ¼; J. R. Webster, 181 ½; E. C. Holt, 180 ½; H. Wilson, 176; and R. McQueen 175 beat the Silver Standard and the remaining four finishers were satisfied, I hope, with Bronze Medals. The weather had been good, apart from a rather strong breeze, and the helpers at least reported an enjoyable day out.
Open "I00's" were not very numerous as compared with "50's" and were, therefore, especially interesting. In the Grosvenor Wheelers event over that distance F. Hancock made fastest time, 5-19-56, which gave him also third handicap position. S. Parker, riding his first "100" for experience, clocked 5-35-33 and F. North returned 5-46-57. Their aggregate times secured second position in the team race which was won by the promoting club.
The second Club "50," run off on the 5th of September, attracted , seventeen entries and there was only one non-starter. There were however, six retirements. Were they feeling the strain of a long and strenuous racing season? Riding in all club events plus a sprinkling of Opens can have that effect. It was hardly daylight when the first man was sent on his way and the Timekeeper found the use of a lamp to be necessary for his purpose. Rain fell throughout the event and it must have suited at least one competitor. It was that young Parker who, from scratch, covered the course in the fastest time of 2-21-5 which gave him also a very well deserved second handicap. He was twelve minutes forty seconds faster than the next man, F. W. North. It was an astounding accomplishment by this quiet little Hercules. To beat the N.R.R.A. Bicycle "50" Record time by forty seconds in his first year of racing with the club was a staggering achievement and we, and many others outside the C.R.C. were amazed. To make fastest time in all three handicap Time Trials was in itself a great accomplishment but, in addition, the times recorded were outstanding. We were intensely proud of "Sparker" as, very appropriately, he had become known, and felt sure that in him we had indeed A WORTHY SUCCESSOR to our old friend Horace Pryor. Already the N.R.R.A. "50" Record was within his grasp. But to return to the event which had disclosed so much. J. H. Royle took first handicap with 2-40-52 less twenty minutes' allowance and F. W. North occupied third place with 2-33-45 less an allowance of eight minutes. There were ten finishers.
It was in December, 1926, that F. Turner applied for membership, and what a great day that was for the club! As Captain and, subsequently, President, he acquitted himself with great credit. He made his mark in the field of N.R.R.A. Records an both bicycle and tricycle, and in Open competitions he carried the C.R.C. colours with brilliance. We shall read more of his accomplishments in later chapters.
On the 5th December we foregathered once again at the Swan Hotel, Bollington, for the A.G.M. There were only thirty-four members present, a very poor show. The Hon. Secretary's Report was passed, and its author received the congratulations of the meeting. The Report of the Racing Secretary confirmed our great successes of the year, in which connexion it was claimed that early Sunday morning for our Time Trials had played a big part. Improved times and more entries had certainly resulted. Special attention was directed to the brilliant riding of "Sparker", a reference which was received with great acclamation to the obvious discomfort of the recipient.
The Report of the Hon. Treasurer was not so bright. During the year, we had continued to live beyond our income. This Report paved the way for the next item on the agenda, proposed by P. Halford and seconded by H. A. Currie, by which the meeting was asked to approve an increase to 15/-d. of the Annual Subscription. Very little discussion ensued and the motion was carried by a vote of twenty-one to three. We had evidently become quite resigned to it.
The next item proposed that the minimum number of attendances, exclusive of races, in club runs before a member could take a prize be increased from ten, as agreed at the previous A.G.M., to twenty. We were never satisfied! Several amendments were put and lost until one by J. B. Atherton, to substitute fifteen for twenty, proved to be an acceptable compromise. When put as the substantive motion it carried by twenty votes to seven. The proposed racing programme for the coming year aroused very considerable discussion and there were amendments galore. The final vote which provided for a repetition of the 1926 events, sixteen for and twelve against, reflected very clearly the divergence of view on the matter.
P. Williamson was enthusiastically and unanimously re-elected President. T. Burnett, another of the old stalwart, proposed by the retiring Vice-President, A. Warburton, and seconded by A. V. Morgan, was elected to that office. The Captaincy was again vested in Harold Wilson, the mover observing that this is the only occasion when the Skipper is not referred to as "Andy". Messrs. L. Johnson and F. W. North became the two hot sub-captains. The Treasurership was quickly dealt with and G. F. Mundell found himself re-elected. Everyone who was nominated for the post of Editor withdrew with alacrity and our pillar of strength, W. Bailey, saved the situation by accepting the post in addition to that of Hon. Secretary, for which he was nominated from the Chair and re-elected in no half hearted manner. R. Danby accepted office as Hon. Racing Secretary.
Well, that ended another year and what a happy, progressive and successful year 1926 had been. The thirteenth year in the life of the club. Note that those of you, if any, who are inclined to superstition. I'm the reverse, probably because thirteen was my number on the card of the first Time Trial, a "50", in which I competed and, thanks to a very generous handicap allowance, won. I wasn't really interested in "50's" but was more or less bludgeoned into entering. With no idea how to perform, I decided that the best line would be to get the man in front of me in sight, keep him there as long as possible and then fade out gracefully. He was a good average fifty miler. Well, I managed to get him within my vision and then settled down to my task. It soon became clear that he was moving slower and slower so I decided, with considerable trepidation, to pass him. In doing so I called out cheerfully "How goes it Mac?" being quite ignorant of the correct greeting in such circumstances. In reply he urged me not to waste time with him as he'd had a touch of cramp right from the start! I had lost some time, and also my guide, so had better pull up the arrears even if I crocked myself in the process. Entering Holmes Chapel, I observed a policeman in the village. Would he unmount me, I wondered? If he did, "gaming on the public highway" was the charge for my offence. In an effort to keep on the right side of the law, I slowed up and adopted a touring position through the village. Touring, mark you, in black tights and alpaca! All went well and so on along the Holmes Chapel - Congleton road on which stretch a hare sprang from the bank and missed my front wheel by inches. For the next mile or so my legs threatened to buckle if subjected to strenuous use. At the turn into West Heath Lane the marshal, who had been largely responsible for pressing me into the event, called out "take it easy you fool, you're inside evens." Marshalling at the other end of the lane was a much more amiable club-mate who, with the aid of a primus stave, was regaling himself with a pot of hot tea. Jokingly, he invited me to join him and much to his surprise I did so. Hadn't I been urged by the expert to take it easy? It transpired that by some miraculous means I'd covered the first twenty-five miles in 1-13-0, going through the field in the process. The second half was a very different story. A report of the event said that I tired perceptibly but to me it felt a lot worse than that. I did, however, manage to stagger to the finish with 2-49-0 to my credit, or discredit.
This story is, of course, quite irrelevant but mention of "thirteen" seems to have put it uppermost in my thoughts as I write.
It all happened on a Saturday afternoon, dominated by almost continuous hail storms, in April, 1914. A long time ago !
Now the time has arrived when I swapped life on the road far a still charming wife so I will lay down my pen and doubtless someone more intimately in touch with the future activities of the club will take up the story. In so doing, I'm sure that he will experience the same real pleasure which I have felt in writing up these chapters. It is a splendid way in which to recapture one's youth, and to live again happy years on the road is indeed a welcome and satisfying experience.