Archive index   Go to the Archive index

Uncle Phil's Autumn Ramble - 9th Oct 2005

Dave Stevenson

Riders on Uncle Phil's Ramble

Fifteen hardy souls braved riding the rutted trackways of this God-forsaken province to humour Uncle Phil's pituitary gland-fueled mania for route mapping.  In alphabetical order machines taking part were Uncle Phil's BMW 650, eligible by virtue of the small self adhesive NACC badge glued to the rear number plate he assured us; Mark Adam's Buzz, devourer of spokes; Calvin Selvey's 1936 Wallington-Butt engined Cyc-Auto; R Hiron's Magic Heel Cyclemaster; the Hondas of: Chairman Casper (ST70 - unless I was hallucinating this seemed to achieve parthenogenesis during the run and created another Honda Monkey bike which accompanied us on the latter part of the route), Dave Hepworth (Camino), Sherwood Grimshaw (PC50), Nigel Pearson, (C200?) and our very own Maths Adviser (Express - which, as so often on our rail network, turned out to be the slow train as it halted at every stop); Pete Moore and Postman Lumley's Mini-Motors; the Mobylette's of Sheila Brown (AV89) and John Hook (a Mobylette in frame only); K. Glover (NSU Quickly) and last both literally and figuratively myself (Puch GP).

The contrast between our tiny machines and the 40 tonne juggernauts that habituate the Truck Stop could hardly have been greater.  'The Stockyard' building itself, which doubles as both transport cafe and pub, was something of a surprise as its appearance is very much the of the latter.  No cardboard walls and melamine tables here!  In fact a colleague at work told me that someone she knows held their wedding banquet there.  This is Rotherham, however, and we do things differently here.  The breakfasts were good and freshly prepared, if a little slow in arriving.

The run departed as a column, led by Uncle Phil.  I acted as sweeper-upper at the back and before very long it was clear that Calvin's bike, well past the age at which it could apply for a bus pass, had indeed decided it would prefer to go by bus.  This was rather sad, although in keeping with other Cyc-Autos of my acquaintance!  Calvin decided to make his own way back and I caught up with the end of the field as it wended its way through the surprisingly pretty lanes of this former mining area.  Next it was the turn of the Maths Adviser's Express, which has been on the sick list since the Coast-to-Coast.  At just about every crossroads the damn thing died.  Leave it a minute or two, wind up the clockwork (really) and it would burble back into life, accelerating away with a healthy rasp until it got to the next crossroad when...

The pub at Blythe was a complete contrast to the Stockyard, being an old inn on what used to be the Great North Road until it bypassed the village many years ago.  There was considerable discussion of the Maths Adviser's symptoms, and some people talked about what was wrong with her bike as well.  I actually tried it for myself and realised with some surprise that when the damn thing was braked after a run on a reasonable throttle it did settle back to a steady tickover.  It was only when you tried to open the throttle to move off again that the stupid machine conked out.  And kicking it, hard, and swearing at it, violently, made no difference whatever...  Shortly after this Uncle Phil suggested she give up on it and leave it in a car park:
a. to see if anyone would steal it or
b. to come back and collect it later if the local Twockers turned up their snotty little snub noses at it.

It then dawned on the assembly that she had probably sabotaged the Express just to get a ride on Uncle Phil's BMW.  I can now squash this ugly rumour, having started it in the first place, and reveal that the offending Honda is currently at Fielder's Motorcycles of Goole to see whether our associate from the Sports Moped Club can identify the curious fault.  Everybody else seemed to enjoy a fairly trouble free ride and the finale of Uncle Phil's route was the arrival at a T-junction on a ridge edge from which one could see the valley containing Sheffield and Rotherham right up to the southern tip of the Pennines on whose foothills stands Emley mast, a local landmark perhaps 20 miles away.  Chairman Casper, whose soul I have come to suspect is not composed of the same poetic mettle as Uncle Phil's, remarked that it afforded "an excellent view of the M18".

Our return to the Truck Stop disclosed two interesting facts: firstly, that Calvin had not apparently managed to return the two miles from his breakdown in the succeeding hour and a half, and secondly that the local reputation of the Stockyard for good food, upon which Uncle Phil had based his choice of venue, is so widespread that half of Maltby were there for their Sunday lunch.  No convivial, post-circumnavigational repast was therefore possible.  Along with a number of others we headed for the not very poetic, but very cheap, Morrison's supermarket cafe only to find Uncle Phil in attendance unaccountably buying cheese.  Whether this reflected my own incipient desire to take up cheese label collecting when particularly exasperated by two-wheeled malaises such as those presently suffered by the Maths Adviser's Express, or some deeper disquietude in the Nuttall psyche, I am unclear.  But I worry for him.

Well, enough of these ravings, I hope Mrs Selvey did find Calvin and that he is not eternally condemned to roam the rutted trackways of this God-forsaken province pushing a ghostly Cyc-Auto.  Hopefully, if he is, some little B will steal it while Calvin is buying a new type of cheese and release him from his self-imposed purgatory.

First published, December 2005

Uncle Phil's Ramble - a postscript

by Peter Moore

The account of the above event penned by the estimable Recorder Stevenson in the December 2005 issue of Buzzing is not quite complete, as the attached image attests.

The grizzled Selvey Cyc-Auto completed a solo circuit without the help or company of the rest of us.

A Cyc-Auto in distress
A Cyc-Auto in distress: Calvin Selvey explains

After the Dukeries Section had repaired to the Morrisons café, Calvin cheerfully rode in to the Stockyard Truck Park pleased that he had triumphed over adversity.  It transpired that the Cyc-Auto rebelled against his over-zealous preparations the night before.  Calvin had cleaned, checked and oiled everything, including the points cam felt pad.  After a couple of miles some of this oil transferred itself to the points and the sparks died.  By the time Calvin had traced and sorted the problem, the rest of us had helpfully ridden off and left him!

Not to be beaten, Calvin then rode the unfamiliar route, fathomed the map, and generally proved that he is made of the Right Stuff.

Meanwhile, Mrs Calvin proved herself to be one of the most quietly patient people you could meet, as she sat in the car, confident that Calvin would, eventually, turn up!

Calvin does not believe in new fangled devices such as mobile phones - especially when abroad on his Cyc-Auto!

First published, February 2006

Archive index   Go to the Archive index