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I am starting to get worried. This was the fourth run I have helped to organise in the past twelve months and the third - how shall I put it? - modified - by the weather. A year ago we had the Crich Run which was generally reckoned to be the wettest NACC Run in recent memory, until the Coast to Coast Ride in June relegated it to second place.
This time the weather on the Saturday was quite simply stunning for mid-October. Out hanging up the route signs we were wearing shirt sleeves and ate a pub lunch coat-less, out of doors, shielding our eyes from the sun's remorseless rays. Come the night we were still out hanging up route signs but now basking in what was still a relatively balmy night under the moon's gentle glow. We remarked wonderingly the ghostly effect of the wraiths of mist that like thin fingers were starting to poke through rents in the tattered autumn hedges and the great pools of lazily swirling white which lay abandoned in the starry fields. Little did we realise that by dawn the pools would have grown to a flood and the thin fingers would have revealed they were attached to a massively corpulent body which would lie recumbent across the whole area.
"It'll clear by eleven" they said as I went to put up the signs on the M18.
"Bound to be gone by 11:30" said early arrivals as we delayed the start of the run.
"There'll be sun once you get up the valley" said a cheerful local.
"Clear by two" said the landlord as we came back to the pub for lunch.
At 5:30pm, in the dusk, I went to rescue the Maths Adviser's Bown moped which had run out of fuel. There was still thick fog. How often do you get days like that 50 miles from the coast?
It's starting to be a particular type of hardy soul that even dares to think of entering a Stevenson-organised run. Phil Nuttal and I were amazed to find anyone in the white gloom of the Traveller's Rest car park.
The ride was something else. The fog varied in thickness but in some places it was actually quite difficult to see the fluorescent green signs tied to the signposts. Few of the bikes had decent lights, of course, so riders depended on sticking together to make themselves more visible and a measure of luck. Thankfully nobody's luck ran out. Being so familiar with the area it was difficult for me to judge what effect the ride through the mist had on those participating. One rider remarked to me afterwards that he had definitely felt that it would have been a very pretty ride - if he could have seen anything.
Twenty machines registered for the run, seventeen club-eligible, which was pretty good given the quality of the day. Phil and I would like to thank everyone who took the trouble to turn out and the brave souls who risked everything riding in the fog. I was very proud that my father, who will be seventy next June, pedalled my Sunbeam/Mini-Motor round the course. He was by no means the oldest rider there and we would like to express the section's admiration for at least two gentlemen, with nothing left to prove, who risked their necks on the morning ride. A few hardy souls even insisted on doing the afternoon run!
As requested at the most recent AGM we asked those attending to put on a bit of a bring and buy. To be honest there is a problem here. For your average NACC member putting a bit of spare stuff in the back of the car on the day before a run presents no difficulties but if the club wants to encourage semi-professional jumblers or serious hoarders to sort out their lightweight stuff in interesting quantities, then we need to offer a bigger customer base than the twenty or so participants on the average club run. One possibility the committee might like to consider is hiring, in co-operation with any specialist autojumblers who might be interested and our own spares and regalia secretaries, a block of say four or five jumble plots at one of the shows that attracts large numbers to put on a cyclemotor jumble. NACC could then sublet stall space to those wishing to sell spares but unwilling to take on a whole stall. Advertised in Buzzing such a jumble would probably attract sufficient NACC customers to make the sellers' day worthwhile as well as displaying the club's activities to a wider audience.
The prize-giving, high-spot of every Dukeries Run, was its usual breathtakingly exciting self. We will draw a veil over the categories given that, in the visibility, judgement was more by feel than by sight. Roger Worton took home something for the Cucciolo and Les Wright pedalled off proudly into the white blanket bearing another stupendous prize. Shame precludes me saying much more. At the Bolsover Beastie Run in April, you may remember, Phil presented himself with the third prize. Just ten months later, the Maths Adviser, the hussy who adds up the scores, brazenly announced that the third mug was hers. It's been the same ever since 1918. You just can't get decent quality hired help for love nor money. I remain speechless and apologetic.
First published - December 1997
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