Saturday/Sunday, September 15/16 – A Starlight ride in Cheshire

Gee! it has been some run this.  Tom and I have got a water bottle each, with the intention of filling them with tea for an all night run.  Thus, tonight found me at Barton Bridge – also Tom – with a filling of tea and an ample supply of grub and fruit.  The water bottle kept slipping round, and caused me endless trouble until I devised a means to hold it.  We took the well known route through Flixton, where lamps were lit, and a rainstorm delayed us for half an hour.  The steel works at Irlam gave out a lurid glow which lit up the Manchester Ship Canal around Partington.

In the darkness near here we got mixed up with the result that we found ourselves running through a croft.  Our road became narrower, and full half a mile further on, a notice bore the words ‘Trespassers will be prosecuted’.  We did not see it.  At last we were forced to walk, and at times we traversed by the dark, murky waters of the Canal, until, at last, we emerged at Warburton.  Heatley was soon reached, and, after climbing through Broomedge, we came across the Lymm road.  Here Tom produced a large gas lamp which lit the road up in grand style.  The night had now cleared up, and myriads of stars appeared.

High Legh passed, we sped along to Great Budworth, where, in the hut over the ‘running pump’ we started on our first meal.  The tea was cold, the floor damp, but we managed it in grand style, I scoffing half of my grub.  Several people passed us and stared, but we took little notice.   At 11pm we packed up and started again towards Comberbach, which we soon passed, reaching Little Leigh and Acton Bridge.  Some walking was now necessary to Acton, and then we took the switchback road through dark Delamere Forest to Hatchmere, then left to Mouldsworth.  Another series of bylanes led us to Kelsall.  A fast run brought us to Tarvin, where we took the Tarporley road.

On this road we saw the lights of five big towns, including Liverpool, Chester, Crewe, Congleton and Northwich.  Duddon and Clotton fell away in the darkness and soon we reached Tarporley, where I repaired a pedal and Tom refilled his lamp.  In the main street of the silent town we ate another lunch and tried to warm the tea up in a gas lamp.  We failed miserably and drank it cold.  Although it was a beautiful night, it was very chilly, and we had a run to keep us warm.  It was now 2am.  Taking the Nantwich road, the route of my previous all night run, we got a good pace up and started to sing catch phrases.  Highwayside and Barbridge went by, quietly followed by Acton, and we reached Nantwich at 3.30am – 2.30am by the real time which comes into operation today, and we turned our watches back.  On the bridge over the River Weaver we were startled by an explosion followed by a flash of light.  Investigation showed it to be a false alarm.  On the Middlewich road at 3.15, dawn started to break, gradually obliterating the stars.  We turned towards Crewe, which we reached in the half light, and on our way we lost our road.  After a while we got put right, and soon our lamps were out.

A watchman’s fire attracted us, and we approached with a view to warming up a little.  The keeper was just going home.  All our efforts to keep it alight were in vain, and another attempt to warm our tea up was unsuccessful, so we turned towards Sandbach.  Through Winterley and Wheelock we pottered, inspecting the crosses at Sandbach, just as the world was awakening, 6am.  On the Congleton road we got a wonderful sunrise, the bright rays lighting the countryside in a splendid glow.  That in itself was worth the run.  At Congleton, 6.45am, we started to lag and as we traversed the road to Alderley we were a sleepy pair, but at Monks Heath a good warm breakfast in a cosy room and a chat before the fire put us right.

At 8.30 we started again, fresh and fit for anything, a warm sun above us and a good breeze behind.  Indeed, we thought of making a day of it but we knew that before nightfall we should be tired again, so we proceeded on towards home.  Wilmslow and Handforth were soon behind us, and on the Wilmslow road we met several cycling clubs.  The sky now clouded over, and before we parted at Didsbury, rain began to fall.  Capes came into use after I had left Tom, and the road through Chorlton to Stretford was passed in the rain.  Barton, Worsley and home were my next places, arriving back at 12.15pm, after 17 hours on the road.  The ride was glorious but cold, and we shall have different drinking arrangements for the next.  We only saw one motorcar from 11pm to 7am.

130 miles, 17 hours