1935 February 27 Source Cycling Balham Cyclists None mentioned Venue Surrey / Kent Meeting Balham Rough Stuff Meeting Date 1928 February day unknown Race 25 Mile Race Result Stan Butler takes third win in four years; Calleva RC take the team prize despite Addiscombe having two riders in the top four
Worth reading cutting just for the phrase: “The London Racing Man, and his friends, and his male servant (complete with spares and bottles), and his maids, make their way in droves to the playground, a chosen hundred of them to race, and many others to watch.”
“Spring,” said The London Racing Man, “is here.” So with 94 other similarly affected young men, he took his bicycle last Sunday morning, and gambolled on the heights and in the valleys of Surrey.
Now, years of experience have taught the Balham Cycling Club that every year men feel like this when Spring is coming. Poets express their feelings industriously scribbling long screeds in praise of everything, painters by exotic and often misunderstood paintings, the normal man by beginning once again to sing in his bath; but not so The London Racing Man.
And because he always feels this way about things at this time of the year, the Balham CC by dint of much ingenuity prepared for him a playground measuring in length roughly 25 miles, and on an appointed day, like dogs released from the slips, The London Racing Man, and his friends, and his male servant (complete with spares and bottles), and his maids, make their way in droves to the playground, a chosen hundred of them to race, and many others to watch.
Entering into the fun of things the Balham CC selected steep hills with hair-pin bends. Long boulder strewn lanes that go up and up, precipitous footpaths jokingly sprinkled here and there with convenient bushes into which to fall, grassy paths through woody parklands and still more and more hills.
Last year SM Butler, usually a serious young man, affected by the fever of Spring fled round the course as though pursued by Winter itself, and came back to the timekeeper again in 1hr 37mins 27secs – a record. Last Sunday the feeling returned and hey, Presto! Away went Stanley Meredith Butler.
Up and down, round and up and down again, he slithered and sped and walked, filled with the joy of Spring (and the contents of several mysterious bottles), passing men who had fallen by the wayside with broken wheels and damaged machines by their side.
But a young man from Tooting, by the name HA Cunnington, was similarly inspired and gambolled faster than them all until four miles from the end, he was still 55 seconds better than Stanley – at which news Stanley, grunted, quitted this gamboling business, became serious and snorted up the last few hills in deadly earnest. To such effect it must be added that he finished 78 seconds in front of the audacious young man from Tooting and 50 seconds ahead of EV Mills, of Addiscombe, another who had been keeping close company with the two for so long. It was Butler’s third win in four years.
Towards the end it rained heavily and the drops from the skies mingled with the tears of the men of Addiscombe; for two of their men finished second and fourth, with the third in the ditch with a broken wheel, thus leaving the Calleva RC, once more to carry home the medals for the team.
The last man came home, the timekeeper Mr JT Wells, collected his papers and his watch and departed; slowly The London Man wended his way to places where there are baths and food, and when all were gone and silence reigned once more on the Surrey heights and in the valleys, the frightened birds of Spring came out again and twittered.
Have you or any family members got any photos or club memorabilia from the Balham Rough Stuff ? Did you ride in it in the 50s and 60s? Email me at email@example.com or drop me a line in the comments box. I would love to hear from you.
Race report from Cycling Weekly formerly Cycling