I think we were in a  break at the time.

Those Were The Days…

Having accidentally found an old cycle racing photo of me and then posting it on my Facebook Page yesterday I thought I might try and follow it up and find some other old photos to make a blog post out of it with a bit of my cycling history.  After a rummage around in jumble that is my the loft I found a few.

First things first.  I need to display my qualifications to speak on all matters cycling, my ‘Cycling Proficiency Certificate’.  I earned this at the ripe old age of thirteen, I had to pass it to be allowed to cycle the ‘just over a mile’ from home.  The ‘just over’ bit is important because you had to live at least a mile away to be allowed to cycle to school.

Cycling Proficiency Cerificate

I cycled all through my childhood and once I was at secondary school I started doing a paper round by bike every morning before school.  This was to earn enough money to buy myself a proper racing bike instead of the roadster I was using then.  I cycled the mile or so into Rickmansworth and collected my ’round’ of papers, all marked with house number on them but it wasn’t long before I knew exactly which paper went in which letter box.  That was seven days a week and apart from two weeks holiday a year with parents the only days in the year I didn’t deliver was on Good Friday and Christmas Day.  When I was a little older I occasionally went to Moor Park Golf Course on a Saturday morning after my paper round and report to the Caddy Master in his hut outside the mansion.   We would all sit around outside waiting to be picked by golfers needing a caddy, just to carry their bags, not for golfing expertise.  Who got picked was in the hands of the Caddy Master.  If you did get picked it was a good earner, the going rate was a minimum of ten shillings a round (50pence in todays money).  That was as much as I earned for seven days of paper rounds.

Eventually I had enough to buy my pride and joy, a Viking Severn Valley, but not until I had started work as an apprentice electrician earning the princely sum of £1 14s 9d (£1.75 in todays money but worth much more then) did I have enough to buy the bike.

MY prized Viking Severn Valley, it was a gold colour

My prized Viking Severn Valley, it was a gold colour

The man running the cycle shop was Pat Webb, the son of the founder of the Watford Roads Cycling Club, Harry Webb. (Not the Harry Webb that became known as Cliff Richard though).  Anyway I digress, Pat suggested I might be interested in joining the club and the rest is history.

I started off in Junior road races and time trials at sixteen years old.  The first road race I rode was in the Chiltern Hills, finishing at the top of Bellow Ridge, I finished sixth from a field of 50, much to my and everybody else’s surprise.  I continued as a junior until I was eighteen and then I automatically became a third category rider, that was in 1961.  Here are some pictures that were all taken in 1961, the Watford colours don’t show up very well in black and white as they were a black shirt with red, yellow and green bands around the chest and not made of lycra/spandex either, there were either wool or cotton.

These were at the Hampden Road race in 1961 :-

Hampden RR 1961 the start

Hampden RR 1961: At the start, me in the middle of the Watford riders

Hampden RR 1961 I had my foot out of the toe clip here.. i remember I was getting cramp as we approached this corner.

Hampden RR 1961: I had my foot out of the toe clip here.. (3rd in the r.h. line) I remember I was getting cramp in my left leg as we approached this right hand corner and I thought I might not make it.

I think we were in a break at the time.

Hamden RR 1961: I think we were in a break at the time. I am the one in black near the front.

This was another Road Race, not sure which but it was just entering Aldbury village in the Chiltern Hills unless I am very much mistaken.

A Road race in the Chilterns

A Road race in the Chilterns, I am the one just to the right of the telegraph pole.

This is another picture of me finishing one of the evening 10 mile time trials. I obviously wasn’t going as fast as the photographer expected as I only just got into the picture..

Evening '10' TT Finish

Evening ’10’ TT Finish

The next picture was a few years later as by then I was a first category amateur rider having progressed from third to second and then to first in successive years.  You progressed through the ranks by getting placed in races and in those days I think you had to have six places in the top six in one year.  So this picture has to be in 1964 or later, only fifty one years ago !!!  Probably a lot of my readers were not born then.. :)

I was now riding a Youngs of Lewisham frame.  My Viking frame gave up the ghost when I was training sometime between the previous and this picture.  The frame cracked just before the start of the season so I had to hurriedly get a new frame and rebuild the bike with the old parts.  The frame and all the components now sit in my garage waiting for a promised respray and rebuild, but don’t hold your breath, its been years.

Grove Circuit Race, Wantage circa 1964+

Grove Circuit Race, Wantage circa 1964+

It was at the Grove Circuit Race near Wantage on an old airfield.  The race was for 1st category and Independent riders.  In those days there was no professional racing in England, to do that you had to go abroad like Brian Robinson did and later Tommy Simpson and Barry Hoban.

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Click image for the big picture

Amateurs were not allowed to take prize money, the rewards had to be in goods or vouchers. (which later got sold to shops for cash.. :-) )  The independent category was for first cat riders who were semi professional and were allowed to accept prize money and some even had a retainer for teams such as Viking, Holdsworth, Condor (who are still around today) and Raleigh.

In the picture I am in the centre and to my right is a Condor rider who I probably knew at the time but I can’t recall now.  I found this timeline of their history.. if you click on it you will get the full size version.  It says at the time of my picture they were Condor-Mackeson

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I don’t have great photographic record of my sporting past, it was before the days of digital photography and not an abundance of camera either.  The photos I have were all taken by somebody else (obviously !!) and passed on to me.

But that was all a very long time ago, my cycle racing career started around 1958 which to save you working it out was 57 years ago.. !! I have probably actually been cycling for 67 years from the age of 5, still going at it though.. I’ll get it right one day.

I hope this post wasn’t too long, I will have to do another post one day, or a series of posts perhaps about the non racing side of cycling history before I forget !!!

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Two Big Houses…

Another ride today and another increase in distance, 72km today but no real increase in the average speed but I suppose that goes along with the increased distance, a bit of levelling out.  The ride began and ended with two big houses.  Well almost began with, about 8km after the start I went past Castle Ashby, pictured above, the home of the Marquis of Northampton when he is home..

About 8km before the end there was Tyringham House, home of goodness knows who.  Sitting in its own grounds and the park you can see in the picture usually has some deer in it, but none to be seen today.  Maybe they are venison now? :(  A few years ago it used to be a health resort/spa.

 

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Tyringham is on the banks of the River Great Ouse, there is a very sedate and peaceful look to it as it meanders its way around North Bucks.

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Not much else to say about the ride really.  It was on familiar ground again but its been a while since I did that actual ride.  I covered some parts of it on my previous ride.

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Get It Where You Can… PBP

Here are a few photos I managed to acquire of Paris-Brest-Paris Audax riders getting a bit of sleep where they can en-route..

I just heard the first riders are back in Paris having completed the 1200km in 42 hours.. while some are still just reaching or have yet to reach Brest, the turn around point..

Photo Blog Catchup…

Hi, just a quick note..

I resurrected my photo blog and have been a busy boy and just posted 6 slideshow/galleries to catch up, dating back to 2014.. you can click HERE to see them or the link in the menu bar above..

The slideshows sometimes take a few seconds to get going but you can index forward manually with the ‘arrows’

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Three Counties And PBP…

Well that went better than expected.. I managed an extra 16km on top my last ride.. 61km today, more than I expected and intended.. and the average speed was up by 0.3kph.. marginal gains..

Once again I was slightly reluctant to go out and even as I left I wasn’t quite sure where I was going to go.  I was thinking of making it up as I went along, probably another few km. on my previous ride, just to keep the progress going up.  It was a nice day and there were plenty of cyclists about.  I haven’t been out on a Sunday morning for a long time so I was quite surprised at the amount of cyclists about.  I saw two tandems, quite a few men solo and in groups and more than few ladies out on solo rides as well.

I headed off into Bedfordshire then Northamptonshire and then back into Buckinghamshire to finish. I kept mainly to the quieter roads. I was adjusting my route as I went, taking into account the wind direction and making sure I got it right for the final leg.  I hadn’t checked the wind direction before I left but during my ride I deduced that it was probably from the north east.  So as it got towards decision time I had two choices for my entry back into Olney.  The short way back that would mean a couple of long drags into the wind or the longer route that would be into the wind but downhill into Olney and only involve a short sharp climb out of Filgrave.  I opted for this finish so I adjusted my route accordingly and took the longer route.

To keep it a shorter ride I could have come straight down from Hackleton/Horton to Stoke Goldington but opted to extend the route out around the outside of Salcey Forest and crossing the M1 motorway a couple of times.  It looked quite busy northbound and I will be on it myself and heading north next Sunday.  We will be heading for Brora in Sutherland in the very north of Scotland for a few days.  However we should to be leaving home around 05:00 a.m. so I hope most people will still be in bed at that time.  My SatNav tells me its 9.5 hours driving all told so I am allowing for about a 12 hour trip with stops.

I had enough energy left towards the end of my ride to push on a little bit and make sure it was just a bit faster than my previous ride, and just a bit it was.. three little bits of one kilometre an hour.  So now my next ride has to be longer than 61km..

On other matters, a few thousand cyclists will be setting on off on the Paris-Brest-Paris Audax ride tonight at 8pm, that involves 1200km of cycling!! (that makes my 61km look really pathetic),and are due back in Paris on Thursday.  Along the way they will grab a few hours sleep when they can in bus shelters, shop doorways and the like and maybe if they are lucky some village hall floors.  Among them will be Ritchie Dixon from my cycling club, Team Milton Keynes who has spent the last year or so accumulating the necessary qualifying rides,.  He is well used to Audax rides of 200, 300, 400 and 600km distances and and often rides a hundred or so the start as well.  Also riding is Steve Abraham, also from the North Bucks Road Club based in Milton Keynes who is doing this as part of his effort to beat the record of 76,000miles in a year long time trial.  He has been averaging over 250 miles or so a day since New Years Day 2015.  He is still on schedule but had a set back when he had few days off when he was in an accident and did some damage, a broken bone in his foot I think, but was fairly soon back on the road using a hand cycle for a while.

I feel like a real wimp so I am closing now..

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Getting Out There…

I forced myself to get out on the bike this morning after what seemed a long spell of lethargy.  It was actually eight days since my last ride.  Just lately though it has been all too easy to find an excuse not to ride.  I am not sure exactly why.  I have had a few thoughts on the subject and I also had more than a few while I was out riding this morning, it certainly passed the time and made the distance seem shorter.

Even as I was going out of the door I could think of at least three reasons why I shouldn’t be going out but I did go out anyway, thankfully.  It turned out to be quite a nice ride, as I know it usually does once I get out on the road.  I extended the eastern side of my Ouse Valley route a little further east along the valley and once again I increased my average speed a little over my recent rides, surprisingly, so things probably aren’t as bad as I expected.  I could have been riding anywhere, I was not paying much attention to the scenery because I was so deep in thought and hatching plans.  The distance just seemed to pass by along with such climbs as there were.

I thought maybe my reluctance was just because of the boredom of riding familiar roads all the time and the fact that I don’t really have anything to be aiming towards.  At the start of year I had a planned a long programme of 200km Audax rides, one about every two or three weeks.  I was busy then, with a purpose, accumulating greater distances so as to be able to complete the Audax ride distances of 200km plus.  However, as each Audax came around something seemed to crop up to prevent me taking part, functions, holidays, illness or just a feeling of not having accumulated sufficient distance in my legs to complete the distances.  The only Audax I managed to do this year was the 100km Kennett Valley ride way back in the Spring.  This was just supposed to be a preparation ride for what was to come.

I think I am the kind of person who needs to have something to prepare for to motivate me but its probably a bit late to consider anything major this year.  I do still have an ambition or two in mind that I would like to fulfil before I am too much older and less capable but thats something to think about and plan over the coming winter I think.

One of the problems with Audax rides for me is that it involves an early start as the longer events generally start about 8am and that usually involves an hour or two of  driving from home.  There are not that many that are close to the North Bucks area so there are not many to choose from.  I have considered doing DIY Audax’s where I would plan a route and submit it for approval before doing the ride.  The beauty of that is that, once approved I can do the ride whenever I like and send in the completed .gpx file from my Garmin along with proof of checkpoints I have passed.

But then I guess thats a lot of palaver because if I am going to go out on my own I might just as well do a solo 200km ride of my choice anyway.  Riding in an event with others though does have a greater appeal and its good to chat with people along the way and at the checkpoints.  However, whichever way I do it, once I get my head down and increase my mileage that is going to take me to pastures new and break the boredom.

The map of todays ride can be seen at the top of the page and further details can found here..  I had a bit of a problem with the cadence sensor right at the start of the ride today so I had to disconnect it, hence the very brief and slow cadence rate on the website.  Something else to keep me busy, sorting that out!

Rant #1

A couple of things have really been annoying me for a while now and I need to get them off my chest…

  • People who  when interviewed on radio or TV start their reply with an unnecessary ‘So….. ” then a pause before actually getting on to the the words they only needed to have started with anyway.. ?
  • Another one is when replying to a question they start with ‘Yes, No’.  Is it for the listener to decide which is the appropriate word to use, yes or no? quite often it is neither.!!

Thats it rant over.. but I am sure there will be more…  Its my privilege as a senior citizen to be able to say what I like now, I earned the right and its good therapy.

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A Day Out..

Yesterday, being a day with nothing in the diary we had put it by for a possible day trip if the weather was nice.  We decided to go to Southwold in Suffolk for the day, a quaint old fashioned seaside town that we like to visit once or twice a year.

Unfortunately it didn’t register in my brain during the thought processes that it was school holiday time.  So the quiet little town and beach was absolutely packed, packed by Southwold standards anyway, not our style at all.  Us pensioners like to have places to ourselves on weekdays.  However we made the best of a bad job and walked around the town, had a coffee and then down to the seafront for a picnic lunch.  We parked our chairs in front of a beach hut that wasn’t being used.  Talking of which, whilst wandering around the town I saw two beach huts for sale in an estate agents shop, one for £120,000 and a ‘cheap’ one for £75,000 !!!

The picture above is of the beach and pier with as few people in it as I could manage.. also some of the afore mentioned, very expensive, beach huts !!!

After lunch I thought Walberswick, the other side of the river might be a quieter option but that wasn’t to be so either, such car parks as there were in the small village were also full and people everywhere.

I scratched my head for a while and came up with the idea of visiting the National Trust property at Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge on the way home.  Mrs G thought this was a brilliant idea as she would be able to see the dahlia garden there.  Every time we have wandered around the grounds previously it has been out of season.

A gallery of the gardens and also some knitted decorated bikes that were being stored in the bike racks, a left over from the Tour de France celebrations of last year when it came to Cambridge

As it was late afternoon by the time we got there we didn’t do our usual complete tour of the gardens, we just headed straight for the dahlia section.  I don’t know the names of all the species here.  There was a chart available but I had nothing with me with which to make note of the ones I photographed.  These are just a few, there were over ninety species on view.  The day was rescued in the end.  If Mrs G is happy, I am happy.

I carted my big camera around all day but I didn’t use it once, all these pictures were taken with my iPhone

Here are a couple of iPhone pictures I took earlier in the week.

The Venus Fly Trap/Sundew plant doing its job in the conservatory..

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Next are some wheelchairs I saw outside the United Reform Church while I was walking past on Sunday morning. It made me smile because I thought it looked as though they were linedup for a sprint race after the service.  They all looked like they were in the same racing category.  What really made me smile was thought of them all racing up the church path afterwards, vying for position to be first out onto the high street.

Formula 1 wheelchairs..

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Not Another Name ?..

Sorry about the name change so soon  but I wasn’t really happy with the name I initially concocted for my new blogging set up. It was the best I could come up with at the time, but I decided It looked too clumsy and awkward.

I came up with this new one while on a  long drive today with time to do nothing but drive and think.  Its seems much more concise and says what the blog will be about in a nutshell, life and cycling.

There is just one more thing I am not totally happy with and thats the theme I am using.  I thought it was OK until last night when I happened to look at the mobile version of it on my phone and the header seem to take up most of the screen  and doesn’t move up when you scroll it.   You only see a few lines of text at a time so that may change in the not too distant future.

Apart from that I thank you for your patience