today i managed to take the bike out around the holderness peninsula. it was eerily quiet with barely any traffic. it’s a flat part of the world so my 68″ gear was more than adequate. i saw one other cyclist on my travels, at first i didn’t think it was a club cyclist, from afar i couldn’t tell. he was up the road and i was going to turn left, but in a moment’s decisiveness i opted to follow him and chased after in the hope that i might at least get a picture of a fellow cyclist on the deserted wolds to illuminate my blog. in the end, i got far more than that. he was riding a 1959 lugless Higgins tricycle, wearing plus fours with a sign wrapped kit bag on the back.
we rode side by side for about 5 miles and chatted about cycling in general. He still youth hostels with his chums and we talked about watching the tour of britain, a conversation which started via some mutual admiration of Mark Cavendish.
We traded anecdotes starting with mine concerning seeing Cav as a stagiare at Bradford in 2007 or thereabouts, and ending with his story about watching the ToB ascend Birdlip near Cheltenham (i know the hill having ridden it with Mike this year) on Owen Blowers’ birthday. Blower was riding off the front and as he neared the top they were waiting and sung happy birthday to him. By my reckoning this puts the date at around 1959, when Blower was BAR holder.
He called me ‘lad’ frequently, which made me feel like i was considerably younger than my 35 years. we also greeted the few people we saw on the road (running or walking) with christmas cheer. It transpired that Brian (for this was his name) is a member of a group called The Fellowship of Cycling Old Timers, a group i had no idea existed. they go away for hostelling weekends, meet for festivals and ride during the week when the roads are quiet. i felt like i’d been let into some sort of secret world.
it was a great experience, affirmative and heart-warming on christmas eve to be cycling with a stranger and yet have a close affinity and lots to talk about. he met his chums at Sproatley, at which point we parted ways. i rode on on my own, as i had done before our chance meeting, but this time feeling somehow more wistful and reflective.
happy christmas, up the league!