Enjoying our bikes to the full: Stephen’s Cycling Story Part 1

Growing up in Conisbrough in the 60’s, Stephen and his friends really made the most of their bikes and enjoyed their adventures to the full. Stephen writes;

“From a very young age I loved being taken for rides on my eldest brother Walter’s bicycle. One day as a small boy he took me down High Melton Hill at speed. I slipped and went down into the front wheel, badly injuring my feet and ankles. Over time thankfully all healed well, with just a little scarring.

Though I loved bikes, it wasn’t until Christmas 1964 that Dad and Mum bought two brand new racing bikes; one for my brother Gary and one for me. We cycled many miles together all over the place and often came home very late. Dad would always be waiting at the gate at home, then in the house our teas would be waiting in the top of the oven. There was always a mug of tea with, believe it or not, three tablespoons of sugar, often still at the bottom of the mug when done.

I used my bike while doing my Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme at Northcliffe School in Conisbrough as part of the hobby section. I cycled far afield to places like Cleethorpes, Wakefield, Leeds, Pontefract, Nottingham and Manchester, where I had my book stamped and signed at the local Police Stations at these places.

One of my school friends, Ian Farmer from Conanby, decided that we should go for a ride out to Cleethorpes for fun. Ian had one of those strange fixed-wheel bikes. When you applied the brakes the front wheel appeared to move back – strange! We set off at 8am, Ian on his old bike and me on the racing bike, our torches fully charged in case it got dark on our way back. Midday we arrived at Cleethorpes, had fish ‘n’ chips, bought a stick of rock each as proof that we got there, then set off on our journey back home to Conisbrough.

Well, all seemed to be going fine until Ian’s lights started to dim then fail near dykes at the edge of the road, taking him almost off the road heading for the water. He stopped just in time – very lucky. My lights were still working, so we changed position for the rest of the ride home, using the back light on his and the front light on the front of my bike. We went through Gainsborough, I think it was, when my lights started to fail as well! By the time we reached Doncaster by the Gaumont, all lights had failed to work.

The long drag to Conisbrough by the water tower was a little scary at 11.30pm, but we were happy to be near home. When we got to the traffic lights near The Star, we were so saddle sore we walked up to the hill to The Lord Conyers on Old Road. We were on Gardens Lane heading for Leslie Avenue, where I lived back then, when the local Bobby (Bobby Dyson) came by in his car and had a word with us – “Where were we going at that time of night?” etc.! We told him we had been on a bike ride, that our lights failed and we were walking home. Bobby Dyson warned us not to ride our bikes the short distance home or we would be in big trouble. We were too sore to ride the bikes anyway and walked the rest of the way home.

We turned into Leslie Avenue to see Ian’s parents, Mary & Joseph, talking to my Dad and Mum at the gate, the time now just after midnight. We said our goodnights soon after, had something to eat and drink and then, shattered, it was off to bed. Got to be up on Sunday morning to listen to Billy Cotton’s Big Band show and The Archers on the Bush radio, then off for another bike ride with Gary. Unfortunately, when I got up my brother Ronald had borrowed my bike to go to work at a farm in Hooton Roberts. Gary wasn’t too upset as he had started work at Cadeby Pit and had to go to Barnbro Pit for underground training on Monday.”

Stephen has recently rediscovered his love of cycling thanks to his daughters. Read part two of his cycling story here.

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