Travellers’ Tales: A journey into the past

Back in the day, CTC used to issue diaries. Cycling UK member Robert Davison acquired one from the 1930s

Recently I came into possession of a CTC diary from 1931. A description of CTC is given in the initial pages: “From the first it has concerned itself entirely with the interests of the touring, club-running, and ordinary road-riding cyclist (of both sexes), taking no part in the promotion or control of path racing, but concentrating its efforts on improving the conditions of road cycling and defending the rights of cyclists.”

Some things stay pertinent to 2023! Also familiar is the legal defence offered. We’re told that the damages recovered “for injured or aggrieved cyclists” had averaged £4,000 per year since 1923. There was free third-party insurance back then as well, and a club magazine, the CTC Gazette, then a monthly publication. So much has remained similar during the CTC-Cycling UK journey.

There is a wealth of information for the practical cyclist: gear tables for 26in and 28in wheels are included; railway rates for the carriage of bicycles and tricycles; numerous records for 50, 100 and 1,000 miles, together with the End-to-End record.

Each day the cyclist recorded his mileage. These were added weekly and then a ‘growing total’ calculated, giving his mileage at the end of the year as 6,164. The cyclist rode almost every day. Utility cycling was very evident. After ‘signed on at factory’ (6 October 1931), the entry ‘Went to factory – 14 miles’ is recorded every day bar one until 31 December. No day off, not even for Christmas. Luckily some things do change!