After breakfast we had a walk to the green and inspected the old monolith which is supposed to be right in the centre of England. About ten yards away stands the Cyclists War Memorial , a solid looking granite monument. It is unpretentious, but what a lot it stands for! On the front are the simple words ‘To all those Cyclists who died in the Great War 1914-1918′. At 10 the service commenced by the Vicar of Coventry, and at 10.30 it closed. Two of our party had a short chat with ‘Wayfarer’, and two managed to get a snapshot of him.
After a little while our party broke up, three of them going to Shrewsbury for the night in order to witness the Anfield [Bicycle Club] ‘100’, and five of us started at 11am for home. Passing through Stonebridge we had a pretty run to Coleshill. Taking it fairly easy we got a good impression of Warwickshire, a beautiful county. The trees were a deal larger than up here, and nature was far in advance of the more northern counties. Lichfield, a wonderful little city was passed, and two miles along we stopped for lunch at an Inn. This country is typical England with its little old fashioned towns and villages, and the whole like a great garden. Rugeley was next passed, I being on the tandem for a change. Two miles of quaint villages followed and then the Trent Valley. Altogether I forgot my earlier weariness in my appreciation of the beautiful country we were passing through.
Beyond Stone, in Staffordshire, things took on a more towny aspect, and by the time we reached Newcastle under Lyme it was squalid. Climbing out of the town we had a ‘fine?’ view of the Stoke and Burslem area. Soon we came to Talke, and rushing downhill, started on the six mile stretch to Congleton. We soon did that, but just over the hill beyond there was a crack – and my chain broke in two. I got a tow with them for a few miles, and then, catching hold of a lorry, I was whirled to Alderley Cross – the tea place.
As it was a 1″ pitch chain I could not get it repaired, so I left the bike and came home by train. It is entirely against me to go by cycle and return by train but it was the only way. In the carriage I reflected on the run and my version of an all-night stunt is this. The tandem spoiled it and helped to tire us out. We couldn’t get a decent drink from 1am till 8.30. It is much too far to cover 225 miles unless it is a race. All night is alright if you can get a drink, and have an easy day following, otherwise it isn’t worth it. Of course this was a different stunt than usual. Beyond the Potteries, the scenery is grand. Cycling distance 90 miles, 7.5 hours
[ For the record, as Charlie developed in fitness and acquired a proper lightweight bike, in the coming years, he liked nothing better than an all-night ride. Ed]