HEARD ON THE RUN No.1
Bert was a real charmer. His life's work selling greens to Birmingham housewives had polished that charm to shiny perfection and it never failed him. One never saw Bert with a spanner in his hands, or repairing a puncture, or putting his chain back on, or anything really. At the happening of one of these disasters, or of any other come to that, the clubrun would rush over and perform the necessary while Bert chatted cheerily with the ladies - if there were none on the run, one or some would always turn up ... If there were no clubmates around, Bert could always rely on someone coming along a few minutes later with the necessary parts and tools, and who would then proceed to fit them. I certainly never saw Bert with dirty hands.
When he was about 70, he made a couple of quick laps of the world, consistently passing through his "drop-zones" several days before the forwarded kit arrived for him to collect. He always pushed on without waiting and it is rumoured that he broke down (at least once) in the desert and his legendary luck still held.
It all sounds a bit far-fetched, doesn't it? Well, try this one for size
It was the first time I had ventured out with the CTC Section which Bert had already supported for more than thirty years. We spent the day flogging away in the "Indian country" on either side of the Teme Valley (every road with its own set of arrows). Just before lunch a loud crack announced the demise of one of Bert's toe-clips (on a fixed-wheel iron, this is not the sort of country where the lack of such a vital component can easily be laughed-off). The clubrun reacted in its time-honoured manner. But who on earth would have the necessary bits to rectify such a problem? Well, guess who had a spare toe-clip in his saddlebag? And guess who stripped off the old one and fitted the new?
What on earth was I doing with a spare toe-clip on a clubrun? For forty-five years I've pondered this troubling question and having dismissed all of the rational answers and found all of the irrational ones utterly unbelievable, I must reluctantly accept the only explanation left to me
On that particular Sunday, Bert would need a replacement toe-clip.
HEARD ON THE RUN No.2
Latish one summer's evening, we were trundling along the main road heading for Newtown Youth Hostel for the night. Just as we approached the double bend carrying the road over the old Cambrian Railways main line to Aberystwyth, we heard clanging bells coming towards us. We trundled on and then, almost reaching its top speed of 45mph, an ancient fire engine appeared hell bent on some errand of mercy. Hardly slowing, the Toytown (sorry, NEWtown) Fire Brigade executed the perfect jink through the double bend over the bridge and hurled itself on towards Caersws (it must have been perfect or I wouldn't be here to tell the tale!). As the machine exited the chicane, a neatly rolled fire hose departed its mountings and unrolled itself equally neatly along the road. The fire engine roared on, its occupants completely oblivious to their loss.
Well, what to do? There was no-one else about and 60 feet of fire hose lay along the main road just beyond a right-angled bend - a real nasty this.
Wearily, I got off my bike and prepared to do the necessary, asking my companion to try and guard my backside from approaching traffic. I'd hardly got across the road when a Hillman Husky (you can tell how long ago this was!) turned up and the ToyNEWtown Fire Chief stepped out and, with a sheepish grin, took over. To spare him any further embarrassment, I made my excuses and left him to it.
I would love to have been a fly on the wall when the matter was discussed later .