Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club  



The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s

51. The Clarion staff preparing for the first Easter Meet "The Evolution of the Cycle' The Clarion, 20 April 1895 - continued

[A bit of explanation is needed first. Last time I ended by saying that this piece would be 'concluded' in the next edition. I'd forgotten how long it was! And, frustratingly, I haven't (yet) been able to work out who the author of this report is. The piece is unsigned. Not Swiftsure – we've had his report from the "Cycling Notes" in the same edition of the paper (see episodes 46 and 47 – and his style is rather different anyway. I thought it might be Blatchford himself - but then there' a clear reference (see below) to "the Chief" And other members of the editorial board and staff - eg Dangle (aka Alex Thompson) are mentioned. - so who is it – Blatchford's brother who rejoiced in the Clarion appellation of Mont Blong might be a possibility. It might be - but I'm doubtful about it - the Bounder. Anyway…]

The Chief told you something about cycles last week. But lor' bless him, he don't know nothink - he don't.

I was all right. For I had a prehistoric machine with cushioned tyres, lent me by Walter Cawood of the Cyclers' News. A very substantial machine, Cawood assured me. He once finished last on it in a long distance competition. Whereas Whiffley had a "jigger" presented to him as a birthday present, by the Candid Friend. So when it was dark we crept out like guilty things and on the Thames Embanckment we wrestled with the jiggers to the great amusement of irreverent small boys - but nothing came of it.

Except that Whiffly's handle came off, his hind wheel deflated, and the treadles came loose, at which consecutive tale of disaster small boys made the welkin ring.

* * * * *

As for me, nothing could hurt my machine. But it was possessed by a devil. It refused to come undone like Whiffy's, but it ran into a carriage and pair - such a spanking carriage and pair. It was a near thing.

If the coachman hadn't suddenly drawn his horses back on their heels, at the same time swerving aside, I believe both he and the occupants would have been smashed to pieces. Directly my machine saw the carriage an pair it made a bee line for it, and when disentangled it charged again and again. Nay, I'd got it, after many attempts, quite clear, when it suddenly swerved and returned to the charge like a goat. Leaning the bicycle is more sport than pastime. We gave it best.

* * * * *

The next day being somewhat sore at heart, and in other places, we went up to Dangle to see how he was getting on with his machine.

He had ridden to Tulse Hill and back, he said airily. As if riding the bicycle at the first time of asking was a mere bagatelle. He was cocky. And we went away with the hump.


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