Rough-Stuff Cycling

I found this on the Veterans Cycling Club - New England Section blog. quote:

From a letter by Bill Paul, founder of the Rough Stuff Fellowship, to the Rough Stuff Journal, vol. 13 no. 6, 1968:

     Having been indulging in this form of escapade since 1921 I am ready to admit that many people will have many opinions, and to simplify the answer to a simple question my answer is - any way, road, track or path which is free from modern tar-macadam! When I first started it was known as pass-storming, for fifty years ago the Llanberis, Honister and similar road passes were all rough and loose metal [gravel] thrown down and spread across. Motor cars were few then and seldom passed along these routes. Then routes along drove roads and sheep tracks were sought out and when Wayfarer publicized, through article-writing and public lecture, his crossing of the Nant Rhyd Wilem that really started something we know today as "rough stuff"....

     On the bicycle itself, does anyone really want a special one? I don't. Any bicycle that you can propel, push, drag, lift or carry, will do. I like something handy and reasonably light and not over done with too many mechanical "aids". Mine is a Parkes Autograph lightweight with Dunlop lightweight high pressure rims, fitted with a speed tyre and a four-speed medium S.A. gear - and what I can't do on or with that I'll leave alone. I have quite a tally of routes achieved, including the crossing of Black Sail with my wife - and a tandem!

The Bicycle, 1954

And more background, this from The Bicycle, 1954:

The Bicycle October 27, 1954


"Winova's" article "Are the rough ways losing their popularity?" (The Bicycle 13/10/54), in which she describes some of her rough-stuff interludes in Scotland, pleased me because, like her, I have always been a searcher of the remote, wild and more desolate country which is to be seen "off the beaten track" [sic]. Like her, I wonder if the modern lightweight, with it's Continental this  and super that, prompts the rider to keep on the billiard-table surfaces of modern tarmac.
Nevertheless, I believe there are still a small select circle who love the rough and high ways amongst the mountains of Wales, the Lakes and Scotland.
What interested me particularly was "Winova's" reference to the matter of badges for the crossing of some of the tougher, rougher ways. This prompts me to suggest the formation of a fellowship of such rough-stuff enthusiasts.
A badge might be designed in due course and an annual meeting at some prearranged rendexvous where experiences could be exchanged. There would be have to be a qualification for membership, of course, and I believe adistinguished and worthy president could be prevailed upon to accept the position.
Who, then, would care to become a member of "The Rough-Stuff Fellowship"?
Liverpool.    W.H. Paul

The Bicycle November 17, 1954

May I say how much I am in favor with the admirable suggestion of W.H. Paul concerning a "Rough Stuff Fellowship". For many years now I have included in every ride, wherever possible some miles of "green lanes" of cross-country work. The sense of adventure and interest to be found in traversing country without signposts and metal [gravel] highway is infinite.
To stand on the summit of a mountain crossing in wild lonliness summons up all the joy of sheer achievement. In several hundreds of miles of diverse surfaces, across fields, bogs, boulders, and the like, my machine has yet to suffer dammage of any kind. Admittedly the going can be rough, but the reward far outweighs the effort and satidfactionn is the greater.
Judging by the kindred spirits encountered in my own travels, such a fellowship as proposed by Mr. Paul would be extremely exclusive. Yes, by all means let us have a chance to exchange reminisces; they would, I am sure, prove most revealing, and I personally would give every support to such a venture.
Oxford.        K.E. Walker

I hope they weren't all forced to share the one cycle!

Congratulations to W.H. Paul for his suggestion regarding the formation of a "Rough Stuff Fellowship". I feel that this aspect of cycling has been much neglected, because of the fact that it is too slow for the majority of modern club-folk.
I am essentially interested in racing, but I cannot help feeling that too little attention is paid to the much more satisfyling pursuit of touring, especially the great thrill one experiences when one has conquered one of the "rough and high ways".
This proposed fellowship must thus remain difficult to enter, in order to add incentive to those who wish to become members. I hope I shall be among the first.
Leeds University C. C.         Michael Bamlett

There is an organization today that still pursues this sort of adventure: the Rough Riders

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