This was the Social Season, that is not to say we were not very social beings at other times of the year, but a full programme of Cycling Club Dances and Dinner Dances brought the people that we had seen out on the road into a completely different environment. Most of the time we would cycle to the local events with a change of clothes carefully stowed in the saddlebag (this must have been much more of a problem for the ladies and looking back it is amazing what they achieved under what must have been really trying circumstances).
It was at these social gatherings that you really got to know that cyclist had other skills and talents than just riding. You found out who could make a good after dinner speech, who had a good sense of rhythm and enjoyed music and dance and also those who could drink alcohol and those that never should.
One of the most memorable after dinner speakers had almost got to the end of his oration, which he was carefully reading from handwritten notes, when he lost his place in the text so without any embarrassment he turned back the pages and began over from the beginning, to the delight of all those present! (it wouldn't have been so bad if it had been interesting the first time round)
The dance always culminated in a giant knees up and the release of a big net of balloons which couples fought tooth and nail for only to burst them. Another great tradition was the Spot Waltz which was always contested with as much energy as any sprint finish with much pushing and shoving that would have mean't disqualification had Eddie Wingrave been in charge.
|The excitement of the balloon release 1950's style|
The social events were the reason why so many looked on cycling not just as a sport but more as "a way of life".
Next week: bicycle pumps.