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A Piece on the Late Ride of the Dukeries Section which Includes the Word “Millennium” Only Once

by David Stevenson

Uncle Phil’s “Ivanhoe’s Itinerary” began with the usual unloading, warming up and general fettling which always prefaces these events.  The Lordens Hotel had not opened its toilets as promised and until 10:30am there was a general speculation as to whether it was possible to ride a cyclemotor with your legs crossed.  Later this was rectified but it was an unpromising start.

Thirty people associated with the NACC, riders and supporters, had arrived by the time Uncle Phil took his red knotted handkerchief off his head and waved off the assembled pack.  A number of members were cheating.  Nick Asling and son were on a brand new Honda Deauville, while Daves Jackson and Hutton were on an MZ and a Yamaha XS650 respectively.  We were also joined by some local vintagents whose mounts included a wonderful 16H Norton in ‘as used’ condition and a beautiful Scott.  Our recalcitrant members redeemed themselves by acting as marshalls, allowing me to ferry my mother in the regal style to which she has become accustomed in the BSA A10 combination which generally acts as broom wagon in our events.

It was a great autumn day with tremendous colours in the hedgerows and on the trees.  It is impossible to avoid some busy roads in this area but mon oncle Phillipe had found some excellent lanes to intersperse with them.  The single track into Brampton-en-le-Morthern, was one of my particular favourites.  After this the route ran on fairly quiet roads, which became increasingly deserted, parallel to the M18.  The only problem was a junction, which allowed no right turn, which meant our cyclemotorists, had to negotiate one of the roundabouts over the motorway.  No problems were experienced.  As far as hills went Nunky Fill had succeeded in constructing a circle with few climbs, but after about 8 miles the road dropped off the heights down into Conisborough where the castle is.

Now, most of you will remember that the whole point of this excursion was to take a look at this edifice, so Hunky File had reasoned that riders would know that when they came to the sign that said “Castle Car Park” they would turn in.  The NACC was having none of it.  Failing to notice the 100ft high white-stone castellated structure which they were riding past they headed for the joys of Mexborough and were only restrained from sampling Swinton by the energetic pursuit of a rider on one of these new, and very impressive, 100cc scooters.  Most people with a working pituitary gland meanwhile did a little sightseeing in the castle grounds.  When we were all regathered (sigh), we set off on the more rural return leg.

Once the road had climbed out of Conisborough again (and that, it has to be admitted was a bit of a hill) it headed out over six or seven miles of quiet roads and winding lanes to Tickhill.  Another of my favourite bits is the last lane into Tickhill (which was my contribution to the route) across open farmland.  The road was rather muddy here and one of the bigger bikes came to grief, thankfully without injuring its rider or seriously damaging itself.  Tickhill also has a castle, still in private hands, which has a little place in history.  It was taken by the Parliamentary forces of Captain John Lilburne in defiance of the orders of the Earl of Manchester who Lilburne felt was pursuing the Royalists with insufficient vigour.  Lilburne went on to lead the Levellers, the first party in English history to call for universal manhood suffrage.  So I suppose indirectly he’s responsible for Tony Blair and Manchester was right all along.

None of this was probably going through our colleague’s heads as they skirted Tickhill’s duckpond and set out on the road South to Blythe.  Our scooterist got lost at this point and the broom (three wheels on my) wagon spent an unfruitful 15 minutes searching obscurest Tickhill.  The remains of the crew head up the hill and into another splendid upland lane through a farm before passing the aircraft museum at Firbeck.  It was shortly after this and only about two miles from the finish that we overhauled the final two contestants from the putative Notts and Derby section who were going extremely well on a Cyclemaster and a Mini-motor. 

Worries about the not very generously sized buffet which opened shortly after we returned reminded me that I hadn’t seen the Langdons, Derek and Mary, on their Cyclemaster tandem and a quick check by their car revealed a telling absence.  I set off round the route backwards and at about the same spot as we had found the other cyclemotorists came across them sweating profusely over a silent machine.  Apparently not only had Derek missed the turn at the castle, he’d also gone straight past the farm track that takes you to Firbeck.  His Cyclemaster holds enough petroil for 42 miles and Nuncio Fille and I had measured the route at about 27...  Derek and Mary had pedalled the bike a few miles by the time I met them and were still about a mile from the Hotel when I got back to them with the can.  Mary, your parents aren’t allowed to treat you like this anymore.  It’s hard enough work, lets face it when the engine’s running.  Don’t mess about, call the NSPCC today and then sue your Dad.  The damages will probably see you through university.

So that was it really.  There was no prize-giving because it was felt that at our ages we are getting to old to stand the excitement.  My thanks to UF who did just about everything this time, all the participants and to Sheila and the Maths Adviser for organisational bits in the car park.  For our next (April) do we are going a little south to give the new Notts and Derby Section a fillip (if they’ll have him) by organising a joint event.  October’s shambles will be back in the lovely fields of South Yorkshire.

First published - December 1999

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