and hopefully, that’s from the East Coast of England to the West Coast, when Sir Walter and I partake in the East to West Adventure.
Or to be exact, from Crimdon Dean (famous North East Holiday resort) to Whitehaven (famous Cumbrian Georgian seaside town), covering a distance of 135 miles and crossing the Pennines with a total climb of 6,666 feet.
However, the build up didn’t go well. Ten days before the event I noticed a broken rear spoke. Oh well, perhaps one broken spoke would be OK? Then Sir Walter started to run weak, wasn’t revving out very well and had less pulling power than the elephant man in a nightclub. And then, when testing different engine setting, I hit a pothole and broke another spoke. So it was engine out, strip down and re-build with just a few days to go. This revealed a broken carburettor casting where it clamps to the inlet spigot (common problem) and I figured it was sliding back off the spigot and leaking air; hence the weak mixture. At this point I must give credit to Pete Stratford and Philip Crowder, who sent me the parts required, at short notice and enabled me to get Sir Walter back together the day before the event – thankyou.
Things were looking good on Day 1 at Crimdon Dean when Sir Walter started first spin, which is quite unusual but it impressed the watching crowd (4 people including my son Christopher). However, It quickly went downhill as the engine was revving even worse and Sir Walter seemed to want to be a plodding 4 stroke rather than a buzzing 2 stroke. Dropping the needle 1 notch helped but anything above half throttle resulted in Sir Walter going even slower. Not good, as a strong 18 mph headwind was forecast for Upper Teesdale. My enthusiasm was further dented when a fellow rider (who shall remain nameless but you know who you are) said I wouldn’t make it to Alston before dark!
However, things settled down and Sir Walter was reasonably happy at 5/8 throttle – I know because I’ve added graduated marks to the lever! Soon, I was caught “speeding” through Trimdon but please note, I only pedalled like that for fun and my son certainly found it funny based on the chuckling.
So onwards to Shildon where I tried advancing the timing but it was no better. And then on to Staindrop for lunch, where I tried retarding the timing but still no better. Then on to Egglestone where I tried reducing the points gap but, you guessed, still no better. Time to give up on adjustments and slog up Teesdale. And I did, through some of the best scenery the UK has to offer. Sir Walter was flat out (5/8 throttle) for one and half hours, with “gentle” LPA (light pedal assistance) and it was a delight to spend the time absorbing the wonderful views. This area really is one of the best kept secrets in the UK.
The only downside was the wind. Around Yad Moss, it was getting difficult to make forward progress and I was a little worried I’d get blown off the road and have to spend the night on the moor. However, I knew that support from Martin Wikner was only a phone call away… but I had no signal. And then Alston appeared and it was still light, even at 4:30. Oh yee of little faith, Sir Walter had delivered with a little help from me.
After a quick look around the Hub museum, which is well worth a visit, I then went back down the hill (not the best of planning) to Garrigill to find my B&B and a well earned rest.
The next day started bright and sunny, as Sir Walter posed for an early morning shot.
Now, being the entrant with the smallest engine and slowest vehicle, I decided to get an early start the next day, and head for Hartside an hour earlier than planned. Some would call it cheating but I was getting embarrassing arriving everywhere last. As it turned out I was the third entrant to arrive at Hartside, looking a little like Laurel or is it Hardy. You just can’t get good passer-by photographers these days, or perhaps it’s the subject? Or was I just happy to have made it?
It was now onwards and downwards, or so I hoped, to Hesket Newmarket in the Northern Lakes. This leg went well despite some surprisingly steep (up) hills that we just managed to climb under power – no walking for me and Walter.
And then dismay, in front of a large crowd at Hesket Newmarket, he wouldn’t start. So I pedal up the street with the choke on. Then pedal back down with the choke off and still no firing. Pause for thought, twiddle a bit (technical term), try again and heh presto away he goes. But it gets better. After a short distance, Sir Walter really starts to rev well and buzz like he should. Until that is, he splutters and stops. Good news is, I’d switched the petrol off during the twiddling phase. Even better news is, it proves the revving problem is flooding of the carburettor. Only dissapointment is that it’s taken me almost 100 miles to realise this and I only did it by accident; so much for being an “Engineer”. But now is not the time for a carb strip, so it’s onwards and upwards to Bassenthwaite where my wife and son are waiting to meet me at the Lakes Distillery.
The final leg is a leisurely run through lovely english countryside into Whitehaven via Cockermouth, where I arrive last as usual but extremely pleased to have completed the Adventure.
Made it, and aren’t I pleased! So pleased, I even did a burn-out, Cyclemaster style.
And we finished, albeit last to every checkpoint, including the finish. But as Philip Crowder said, anybody can do the East to West on a moped but I was the only one on a cyclemotor.
So the journey is over. Not just the journey to Whitehaven but the journey back to life for a rusty Cyclemotor that hadn’t ran for 50 years. And there is something special about a Cyclemaster; it’s to do with the way you have to work together, particularly when faced with a hill – you help the engine and it helps you.
Man and machine in perfect harmony, now looking for the next challenge.
I must thanks, those who helped me from the EACC. In particular Martin Wikner who drove support and Sharon who both planned the route (with help from Dave Watson) and rode it on her little red Honda. And thanks to Neil Catling for his words of encouragement.
And finally, thanks to my sons for their help: Christopher for getting me to the start, Daniel for getting me home from Whitehaven and Michael for looking after Mam and driving her to the Lakes Distillery to laugh at me.