In our last year at primary school, so I guess we were around ten years
old and approaching eleven, a little gang of us went on our best yet
adventure. We biked from home in York City to Scarborough a distance of
around forty miles with a number of very challenging hills. I think the
gang consisted of seven or eight kids, all boys, and all feeling very
confident and grown up.
We each prepared our bikes and packed a little assortment of tools, puncture kit, bike pump, split links as well as a waterproof cape loads of sandwiches, and a bottle of water. We set off very early and cheerfully tackled our first major challenge which was Whitwell Hill. Whitwell hill was a very steep climb and may still be a bit of a challenge for your average cyclist today even with modern lightweight bikes and sophisticated gears. We puffed and panted standing up on the pedals trying to drive our bikes upward and onward but one by one had to give in a walk the final stretches, never once doubting our ability to complete the plan, Scarborough and back in a day.
Somewhere north of Malton we stood for a while in lovely sunshine and watched a lamb being born in a field next to the road. We reached Scarborough and made our way to the South side sea front marvelling about our achievement as we ate an ice-cream and and took in all the wonderful kaleidoscope of smells, sand, sea, candy floss, fish and chips, donkeys and the tarry smell of fishing boats. None of us had a watch, so we did not really know what time it was – the collective decision was it must be getting late and that we wanted to be home before dark so when we finished the ice-cream and had a drink of water we set off back.
I am not sure exactly where it was but somewhere just after Malton on the way back we sat patiently and, if I am honest, gratefully while one of the gang had to do some repair to his bike. The outstanding memory is of the terror and exhilaration hoping not to fall off during the very fast decent of Whitwell hill. Knuckles white from tightly gripping the handlebars, hair blown back, wind screaming in our ears, eyes streaming and vision blurred from the vibration we screamed with delight and terror, like girls at the fun fare, as we sped down that hill.
I arrived home very dirty, very hungry and very tired but very, very happy. I had a wonderful day, a day I will remember for ever, and a day that is difficult to surpass even by more grown up more recent adventures like travelling overland from the Russian border in China through Inner Mongolia and into Beijing. For sure my black, too big for me, no gears Hercules bike was the best of the best in opening up a new world to me.
Aged around 75, Male, Yorkshire