Long bicycle rides in the Pennine foothills - Tony Cunnane's Autobiography

A Yorkshire Aviator's Autobiography
Tony Cunnane
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Long bicycle rides in the Pennine foothills

On 7 March I went back to Manchester for the weekend to stay with the Gonski family; their son Raphael, was now in the 6th Form at Salford Grammar. He was a cellist in the school orchestra and had also appeared with me in the previous year's Manchester Evening News photograph purporting to show the SGS String Quartet. My weekend visit, for a concert in the Salford Technical College given by the SGS orchestra and choral society, had been arranged by Dr Jones. Unfortunately, I can remember nothing at all about the concert and my diary is no help. After the concert, however, there was a late night, convivial gathering with Raphael, his parents and friends which I reported in my diary as "very good", but I know I was depressed and jealous that my former school mates were almost halfway through their first 6th Form year.
When I had been in my job at the West Riding County Council Vehicle Licensing Department for several months, I was deemed to be sufficiently reliable to be allowed to deal with incoming telephone calls and that made my job marginally more interesting. Most of the calls to our office were from police forces up and down the United Kingdom - the 1953 equivalent of today's PNC checks. I was pretty good at rapidly locating individual cards. I could take down the details of the request, find the card, and get back to the telephone in about a minute. The rest of the office staff were impressed by my speed, except for my fellow junior clerk who had difficulty with the principles of alphanumerical order! Perhaps he was dyslexic. He certainly thought I was far too keen for my own good.

Sunday 3 May was, according to my diary: "A glorious day. I decided to go off on one of my solo long bicycle rides. I set off at 10am, passed through Bradford City Centre at 10.50 without pausing, continued northwards, up hill and down dale, through Shipley, Baildon and Otley and arrived in Harrogate at 12.40pm. I looked round a bit and then went on to Knaresborough where I had my dinner: fish, chips, tea (4 cups), and bread and butter. It cost 3 shillings. I left at 2pm and arrived in York an hour later for my very first visit. I had heard such a lot about it but I was very disappointed - after only 20 minutes I left and cycled home via Tadcaster, Hook Moor and Garforth. After covering 95 miles on the mileometer on my bike's front wheel I got home at 5pm. I was tempted to made a short diversion so that I could record another century but I resisted. I had a hot bath, then two cups of tea and some bacon and sausage sandwiches."

I apologise to my fellow Yorkshire folk: I seem not to have been impressed with either Knaresborough, Harrogate or York on that day out and I didn't visit any of those historic places for the next 15 years or so! Three weeks later, 24 May, I set off on another epic cycle ride - to Bridlington on the east coast of Yorkshire. This time the trip would be about 80 miles each way, my longest outing to date.


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