Chance discovery brings back memories of young farmers’ Ely-to-Blackpool feat
18:04 28 April 2014
A chance discovery will see Haddenham man Bruce Pattern celebrate 40 years to the day since he and a team of young farmers cycled from Ely to Blackpool on a bicycle made for five.
Bruce, 63, was hunting through his loft last week when he came across a box belonging to his mother that was filled with newspaper clippings from April 24, 1974, when he and a group of fellow Young Farmers Club members carried out the charity feat.
Bruce, a former civil servant with the department for agriculture, said that he had been unaware that his mother had kept the cuttings until deciding to clear out his loft and it was pure chance that the 40th anniversary of the ride coincided with his discovery.
Members of the Ely, Haddenham, Whittlesey and March clubs took it in turns to cycle more than 230 miles to the Lancashire coast – raising as much as £1,500 for multiple sclerosis.
The bike – known as a quindem - was more than 10ft long and put together on a farm in Wilburton by Adrian Furness using parts of an old tractor and a motorbike and Bruce recalls that it was incredibly difficult to ride.
On their three-day journey, the group had to battle exhaustion, breakdowns and even a case of theft.
Bruce, of Orchard Way, said: “A group of Middlesbrough football supports stole the bike and they were ramming cars with it. The police didn’t have much trouble finding it, though! There were 10 of them and they managed to find two and they fined them.”
Despite the brief setback, they finally reached Blackpool in time for the Young Farmers Club annual convention and attracted headlines on local news as well as the Daily Telegraph, Daily Express and, of course, the Ely Standard.
Being farmers, Bruce said that the group didn’t need a lot of training for the ride but added that they did go on a test run to Wymondham, in Norfolk, a few weeks before the Blackpool ride, where they raised about £200 for Highfields School.
Four decades on and Bruce is still riding bikes as a member of the Haddenham Easyriders Club and he is still in touch with some members of the club who were on the ride – though he understands the quindem is now part of a farmyard gate.