Monday, December 31 – The Past Year Reviewed

Here I come to the end of my second year of diary keeping.  In these pages are recorded as truly as I can state, all the runs of any consequence, what happened on the run, place, distance and time.  Now comes the balancing, good, bad or indifferent, and the final ‘Is it worth while?’….

I started the year with a run that still ranks among the red letter days of my cycling life.  The glorious Derbyshire Moorlands and Vales still remain vivid in my mind, as they were 364 days ago.  That starts the ‘Good’.  One or two more ‘good’, then I started riding with the CTC.  Immediately my pleasure was trebled, my mileage doubled, and my general outlook brightened.  From ‘good’ it jumped to ‘par excellence’, nay, nearly perfect.  I made many friends, and one or two chums.

We will first take snow….. only once did I ride in actual snow, and that was in February after a particularly heavy fall.  Eight of us dragged our machines through Lever Park and onto the moors near Belmont, and then fought a terrific snowball duel which lasted two hours, and got us all hot and breathless.  But my chief delight in snow is on the moors, when the crevasses and ridges are deeply defined, and the swell of untrodden snow makes a pretty study in white.  Yes, snow has many advantages, if only from the effect of making a whiter world.

Then rain, the most abundant product of an English climate.  People say the weather is bad when it rains.  We should be worse without it!  Perhaps it does rain rather frequently, but what matters?  Cyclists have the happy knack of making the best of a not-so-bad-job, and they find a real delight in plugging along through the hardest rainstorm.  To feel the cooling rain on ones head! to hear the tyres gurgling and splashing along the running roads!  To see the fresh countryside after a downpour, only cyclists can know and understand these things, and they find a sense of exhilaration which cannot compare, even with sunshine, in its way.  The ‘Man in the Street’ does not think, he is ignorant of this, and in his over-bearing way he libels us as ‘mad’ or ‘half-witted’, even doctors enlarging on the ‘positive foolhardiness’ of such a thing.  Of those people the real cyclist thinks but little, and his answer is; “Let them come, as cyclists and with the glorious enthusiasm of cyclists, and ride in it, and not until then will they understand”.  The rain brightens the world, freshening the jaded and oft dust laden hedgerows to the beautiful plants as we see them.  If rain was not necessary, then there would be no rain.  Therefore, although a full day under the cape may get somewhat tiresome, it is well worthwhile.

Wind, the supposed enemy exclusively of cyclists.  Wind, that ‘adverse’ enemy that takes so many forms from the gentle breezes of Autumn and the whirling, dusty, boisterous March winds to the biting, cutting January wind or shrieking winter element.  We take a keen delight in starting out and doing battle royal with the most ferocious wind that ever blew, and if one has the will to conquer, he will conquer, and the joy of conquest that the cyclist knows will be his (or hers).  The glorious bustling wind that rushes through trees or sweeps across the open moorlands, rippling through the long grass or wheat, “God’s House on a blowing day”.  Then (often) the return with the wind behind, sending you scudding along the hard road, climbing those hills easily which you usually walk, and – not least – that restful hour by the fireside afterwards, ruminating on the days ride and the give and take warfare which you have fought.  Is this worthwhile?  A thousand times yes.

The ‘bugbears’ or common drawbacks which are amazingly few on an up-to-date machine, become almost a pleasure as one rides for cycling’s sake and for the pleasure of our lovely countryside.  By ‘bugbears’ I mean such things as punctures, lamp trouble, and unusual mechanical trouble.  Indeed, one eminent cycling writer says that it affords one the leisure time to look around!  But I will stop at that.  There is no need to mention sunshine as that speaks only too well for itself, and even mist is sometimes acceptable in that it so gradually unfolds its cloak as one moves forward, giving a gradual, soft picture of the scenes you are passing through.  But I hold no love for fog – yet I like the fascinating feeling of being lost, when groping my way slowly through a dense fog