So This is Yorkshire !
IAPPEAR to have been the only lunatic in the South-Eastern Centre. At least, that is the impression I received when entering for the Leeds £200 Trial. I could find no one else who would ride up from South London on the Friday night for the trial, and return on Sunday—a little matter of 560 miles in all. Too late, I learnt the nature of the course ; a sort of Scott Trial affair, judged by the standards of a Southern amateur. However, it will furnish an opportunity for seeing Yorkshire, I thought.
Leaving the office at 5 p.m., I had 60 miles of ” A.1 .” going, then darkness, rain, sleet, and snow accompanied me for the remaining 150 miles. A very unpleasant journey, but except for searching in vain at countless garages for that elusive lady, Ethyl, uneventful.
At Doncaster, the “Industrial North,” began. All around were the lights of factories an the belching flames of furnaces. The nine miles from Wakefield to Leeds were a nightmare ; houses and tramlines all the way, and very greasy and pot-holed cobbles. At 1 a.m. I reached Leeds, and by 2 a.m. had found a bed.
We have it on the authority of the local paper that at the start, “acrid fumes from multiple roaring exhausts were in the air.” I cannot say I noticed any of these phenomena, but I did notice the ominous warning conveyed by elevated exhaust pipes, and air intakes above tank level. These Yorkshire boys are a fine crown of rough-riders, and so they ought to be, with the moors on their doorsteps. Apparently they thought the course fairly easy, with Dob Park, Hey Slack, and Moginton cut out ; but to a ham-fisted Southerner like myself—well ! I lost count of the
number of times I fell off. I fell on my car in the snow ; I went over the handlebars and rolled on my back ; I fell with the bike on top of me, holding a twisted ankle in the mud.
Reynard’s Crag struck me as being past a joke for the bikes : Julius Caesar, his Cemetery, and the two following sections, Slowmarch and Quickmarch, came into the same category for the riders. I suppose they must each be about a mile long, but they seemed like thirty. They combine every known form of difficulty ; mud, water, grass, rocks, ruts, and cross-gulleys. Familiarity with the course counts for a good deal, but even so I must doff my ski-cap to the hardy souls who crashed past me, bouncing from hillock to hillock, seldom in the saddle, and disdaining to shut off. And to those who slithered past, snaking violently, while I, petrified with fear, endeavoured to negotiate the miles of muddy grass-grown three-ply. The timed section was good fun, though, being not too bad to prevent some very amusing, if hectic, blinding.
The melting snow had covered all the lanes in a layer of slush inches deep, and in parts snow covered all but a foot or so of road. The country is certainly very striking, but I did not find it beautiful. It is altogether too bleak and barren. The popularity of motor cycling with the general public in the North is incredible. Two observed sections
within the city of Bradford attracted large crowds. The close time checks necessitated rather high speeds through the town, at which I felt not a little uncomfortable. But it did not take me long to realise that, instead of hostility, everybody was displaying interest in the “race.” Traffic was invariably held up to let us through, and speeds of 40-50 m.p.h. were apparently taken for granted by police and public alike. Silencers, too, were not absolutely de rigeur. A certain Norton. . . will my car drums ever recover ? Think of it, ye residents of Surrey !
In the last splash I dropped into a hole about 3 feet deep, and filled the motor up with water before a huge and enthusiastic crowd. Help was soon forthcoming, but I lost 20 minutes. Shrieks, cat-calls, and hand-clapping greeted successful attempts. When somebody conked with a sidecar, he was exhorted to ” taake t’ thing off an’ flooat it !
Leeds was a cheerful place on Saturday night. There had been a big football match, and paper-hatted supporters paraded the streets with ribald song, policemen’s rattles, and bells, kissing the girls until restrained by the good-humoured police.
Next morning, after towing to the station an unfortunate two-stroke which had suffered from an attack of “mice at the piston,” I rejoined the Great North Road via Selby, to avoid Wakefield. Then for the first time I appreciated this marvellous road in the daylight.
And so, 48 hours after leaving it, a wiser motorcyclist returned home, with 560 miles to his credit, a few bruises, and nothing but a broken saddle spring, bent footrests and gear lever, and a missing toolbag, to remind him of a week-end “somewhere in Yorkshire.”