Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club  



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

9. Birmingham CCC's Tour of North Wales

You will recall (he writes hopefully) that the report of the Potteries' tour of Jersey ended. I think the last few paragraphs of the O Groomie O's report will strike a chord with many of our regular ride participants.

'Total distance about 700 miles. What price that, Brum?' (see last Circular)

On 8 September 1894 the following report from 'Brum' appeared:

The Birmingham Clarion Cycling Club have been on tour in North Wales. The route was via Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury, a few Welsh towns with the usual LLs and Ws in, and on to Dolgelly. Shrewsbury was reached in safety, where we delivered ourselves into the hands of a guide. True it was raining, true the Welsh roads are composed of clay and chalk, and when wet have surfaces ressembling thick butter.

About eleven o'clock that night when we were thoroughly wet through and dog tired, we reached a miserable little village, where we passed the night. Ugh!!

After much plugging the next day we came to the shores of Lake Vyrnwy, a reservoir belonging to Liverpool Corporation. Our party split up here. One bit going with a guide who was certain of the road, the other staying with a guide who inquired his way of the natives. I chose the more modest guide.

This individual, whose own unaided ignorance is sufficient, was enabled by the assistance of local stupidity to take his party over a mountain 2,050 feet high. The only paths being sheep tracks, up which we had to push our jiggers. Near the top the 'Post' gave out, so we dragged him to a shepherd's cottage and begged for tea. That was our salvation and under its influence we became quite cheerful.

Once more we started climbing. At last we find ourselves on the down grade, and after a few hours arrive at the main road to Dolgelly.

We inquire the distance and are informed that it is eight miles. It is growing dark and still raining but we mount our machines and push on. After riding what seems to be an hour, we hear footsteps, and shout to know how far to Dolgelly. 'About eight miles' is the reply. A bend in the road shows us the lights of a town; so at last, tired out, wet through, and terribly hungry, we arrive at the Talbot Inn in Dolgelly.The others arrive in a quarter of an hour, the food supply is lessened considerably, and then to sleep.

The rest of the week is filled up with walking and cycling excursions, and despite the rain, we enjoyed ourselves. Mrs Williams you did us proud. Twenty four shillings for a week's board and lodging 'and such a board you gave us' was very sweet. We shall come again.

On the following Sunday the last of our party left, reaching Birmingham via Llangollen and Shrewsbury. The ride home was uneventful, except that it left off raining. That we slept, or rather didn't sleep, with an individual with a nose like 'Gabriel's trumpet', that we killed a dog, and that we rode from Wolverhampton to Brum without any members dying on the way.

Arrived in Brim once more we departed our several ways and sought our virtuous couches, there to sleep and dream of that sweet land

'Where bad roads shall cease from troubling
And "Vibrations" is at rest'

No, we didn't do seven hundred miles, but then perhaps that was because we didn't take a boat and because we occasionally stopped for something to eat and drink. Moreover, our club isn't great at distances. As the Rockman expressed it, 'What this club wants is not a speedometer, but a boozometer.'

However, here's to a merry meeting at Lichfield where we will try to deserve 'Clincher's' praise.

Next time: The rules of the Potteries CCC and and advert for the Clarion cycle


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