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  • The Exiles CC, RAF Egypt
    Baghdad I always regard my second place in the 54 championship 50 as my best ride I did a short 8 after crashing at the turn and my club mate Pete Curtis beat me by 40 seconds A week later and it was my last event a road race the Circuit of Canal South 71 miles the longest single stage event ever held in October 54 and I went out on a high by winning it below John just starting the last 14 2 lap of the 71 mile Circuit of Canal South This bit went through the camp and some of the billets are in the background My bike was a Sun Sid Patterson 4 speed Benelux GB brakes Weinman sprints on Gnutti hubs Note the CO2 pump which I still possess today I managed to win this one in a three man sprint finish It was my last ever event before I was demobbed and although I had had several TT wins it was my only win in a RR I m afraid I could write for hours on the subject and also on the present day Exiles CC 15 members of which still meet and ride four times per year You ve probably gathered that I m as proud as Punch about that I won t touch on the subject today about four of us who went back there with our bikes in 2001and were treated like VIPs by absolutely everyone from the hotel handyman to Egyptian Army officers This is a typical Sunday morning scene preparing for the start of a 25 on the Canal Road It was outside our camp see the kilo stone Ismailia 49 It s Suez 44 on the reverse Without exception all our clubruns finished at this stone with a blinding sprint Note the 3 ton Bedford QL in the background which would have fetched one of the other clubs along In fact most of the chaps in the picture are from other clubs the one exception I can see is Terry Wesley Macclesfield Wh on the extreme left wearing his Exiles jersey Here is another shot of the same scene as the one on the left An Exiles man Harry Mainwaring Liverpool RC is sitting down in the forground I m in the background pulling my shorts up or something Peter Underwood adds Most young cyclists in the late 40s and 50s were conscripted into the armed forces for a two year stint During that time the authorities did everything possible to get the conscripts to enrol for a further year I resisted their charms I joined the RAF hoping to be posted to a camp where there was cycling as a sport but never saw another cyclist during the two years Being single and free I also tried to get an overseas posting to either Malaya or Egypt ironically I was in a group of twenty most of whom had girl friends wives or families and were keen to

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/exiles.html (2016-02-09)
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  • Cycling with the Actonia
    other with Tubs I think the wheels were Mavic but again not sure A few of the Actonia riders would go to Ghent in Belgium every year and try their luck at racing against the continentals One of them Johnny Willis would always bring back if ordered and paid for up front sets of chrome wheel spokes Quite a few of us had them and when the wheels were built they really did look good but unfortunately didn t make you go any faster Ten gears was the maximum you could have back then and I remember studying the back page of W F Sandy Holdsworth s little book Bike Riders Aids which had a chart of all the gear ratios and how far one pedal stroke would take you My 5 speed block went 13 15 17 20 24 and many an hour was spent discussing the pros and cons of various configurations Of course the individual sprockets could be removed and changed depending on the type of terrain you were due to race over By the way the Holdsworth s book came out annually see copy right and was like a bible to all us lads in West London it had all the latest cycling stuff in it It didn t matter how good your bike was you could always find something else that you wanted in it I wore Fausto Coppi racing shoes with cleats put on by Doc and I think that s about it Memories The photo as already mentioned was taken by Bryan Gwyther who was a member of the Actonia CC Not only was Bryan our club photographer but would attend as many races as he could cycling to all of them just to take his beloved photos Bryan had a speech impediment but it never stopped him talking and we did get a fair bit of fun teasing him He always saw the funny side of things and had a very infectious laugh Not only was Bryan a keen and good photographer he also had a photographic memory I mentioned at the beginning that I was in the print trade Many years later I was working at the Radio Times in Park Royal It was just before Christmas and they were taking some casual staff on and Bryan was one of them He must have been there a couple of days when I heard his voice I went over to say hello and he recognised me straight away We had a little chat but his voice was much worse than before and it was hard to understand what he was saying The next day he came and found me and took me to the canteen where he showed me hundreds of photos he had taken over the years and took great delight in pointing out the ones that I was in Bryan stayed at the Radio Times for quite a few months but as he was a casual he had eventually to leave I heard sometime later from a mutual friend that Bryan was dead He was on his bike and had been run over and killed by a lorry I wondered then if Bryan s speech problem was really a hearing problem that had worsened over the years Maybe he didn t hear the lorry Another of Bryan s photographs below The 1962 Actonia Junior road team Johnny Rich Ted Langley Tony Bobbett Jim House The photo at the top of the page was taken on the club s time trial course on the Amersham Road It was always a very early start as we had to be finished and off the road by 8 00am We used the course for 10 and 25 mile time trials A few more thoughts I had to pack up racing cycling due to a bad injury on my left knee in 1965 After a few years of playing guitar in different bands I went back to fishing which I had neglected for some time It came as a surprise to see one of my cycling heroes from the old days Alf Engers was now a top angler you can t keep some people down When I was doing my apprenticeship at Chambons I became friends with another racing cyclist who worked in the office His name was Colin Spearman and he rode for the Archer Road Club Colin was a very fine rider both on track and road and in the summer would go to the continent for two weeks to compete in road races Colin did a lot of his training on the track at Paddington Rec and was fit as a fiddle and built like a beanpole I lost touch with him when I moved jobs only to find him again when I got computerised and joined up with the fledgling Friends Re United We spoke on the phone quite often and exchanged e mails almost daily Once we went to a cycling film and talk show which was held annually at the Riverside studios in Hammersmith and hosted by a man named Charlie Woods who incidentally wrote a book about cycling called BIKIE Well worth a read if you haven t already read it Colin still looked young and fit as ever and still cycled everywhere so it came as a great shock when his daughter rang one day to say that Colin had had an enormous heart attack and nothing could be done to save him In 1962 I wrote the following for our works magazine I would like to congratulate Colin Spearman on winning the West London Cycling Championship for 1962 This is the second time he has won the award the first being 1958 at the age of 17 To win this championship he recorded the fastest time over distances of 25 50 and 100 miles plus the 12 hour time trial To win this championship is no easy task as there are 40 cycling clubs all with top class riders The 12 hour race entails riding around a circuit for 12 hours each rider being sent off at minute intervals The mileage is recorded at the end of their 12 hour stint Colin had an aggregate speed of over 22mph his times are as follows 25 miles in 1h 1m 18s 50 miles in 2h 7m 10s 100 miles in 4h 30m 50s 12 hours completed covering 235 miles Colin who works in our office at the age of 22 has not only made a name for himself in England but also in Holland where he races in the summer Another two names of very good cyclists come to mind I d competed against them on many occasions and they just seemed to win everything They raced for different clubs and their names were Keith Mernickle and Lindsey O Brien Actonia Club Runs We would meet every Sunday at 7 00am outside Acton Town Tube Station if you hadn t arrived by 7 30am they would leave without you There was a pecking order in the formation and behaviour of the club run The more senior members would take up the front positions with the younger and newer members towards the rear We would set off at a leisurely pace and because of the absence of cars in the early 60 s it was quite possible to ride most of the time two abreast The first stop would be at a Halfway House All our club runs irrespective of direction or destination would stop at a Halfway House somewhere along the way Halfway Houses were cafes greasy spoons that would open their doors early on Sundays to accommodate the cycling fraternity and of course any other passing travellers After our break it was back on the bikes and onwards to our chosen venue After cycling a few miles there would be a noticeable speeding up of the group which culminated with one or two of the Senior Racing Team members going off the front and making a break for our eventual destination Anyone capable jumped onto a wheel and from then on in it was heads down and race like mad to wherever we were headed This weekly ritual had the nickname of smash and thrash and what a learning curve it was for us juniors If you managed to stay with the leading bunch you d be expected to do your bit and if you went off the back so be it They took no prisoners and you soon learnt your racing skills The older members were only too happy to see us go they could then get on with their leisurely club run It didn t really matter if you arrived first or last everybody knew where to meet up and once we were rested and all accounted for we would repeat the process on the ride back home As we were based in West London many of the club trips were to the South Coast Brighton Bognor Littlehampton Eastbourne etc One of the nicer points of our club runs was that any trip to the South Coast involved going over the North and South Downs a couple of times I was not a natural hill climber I preferred less undulating roads so I never came to fully appreciate the joys of hauling my carcass up some of Southern England s most beautiful one in fours such as Bury or Reigate Hills to name but two One memory that I will always have was the camaraderie shown by other cycling clubs as they passed by in the opposite direction There was always a wave or a shout of Good morning or where re you off to Everyone was so friendly in those days I expect it was the kindred spirits thing I m now in my mid sixties and one thing I still find unbelievable and I expect this has happened to many an ex cyclist is when I go out and about in my car to somewhere on the South Coast I find it hard to believe that I used to think nothing of cycling there and back and probably did it quicker than it takes now by car Baz Wells I never knew or met Baz Wells he was a member of the Actonia C C a few years before I joined and to all accounts a very keen and promising racing cyclist The Milk Race the old Tour of Britain was at the time organised by local cycle shop owner Chas Messenger Marshals were needed for the race and Baz was one of the volunteers Sadly he was knocked down and killed by one of the race s following vehicles Every year the Actonia C C held the Baz Wells Memorial Road Race which was always well attended Actonia Socials One thing all the members looked forward to apart from the racing and time trials was the annual dinner and dance Once you had got to know everybody they became your extended family and always went out of their way to encourage us newer lads The dinner and dance was no exception as this was the night all the cups medals and prizes were given out and nobody was left out It was difficult if not nigh on impossible to come away without some award or other The younger and newer members always received something to mark their progress however vacuously the award was entitled things along the lines of Best Newcomer or Best up and coming or even Best time for a 15 year old It was highly likely that failing everything else I might have won the Youngest and newest member who rode an H E Green racing bike and lived in Hammersmith award although I expect the engraver might have had something to say about that Training Training Compared with today s strict scientific dietary and training regimes the methods used by racing cyclists back in the early 60 s and before were positively Neanderthal Our training in the summer months consisted of the Sunday club run if you weren t competing elsewhere and the Tuesday and Thursday evening training runs For the two evening runs we would all meet outside the Kew Bridge café at 7 00pm and leave about 7 30 As far as I know these were completely unorganised affairs anybody from any club was welcome the more the merrier Bagshot On Tuesdays we would head out west on the London Road through Hounslow past London Airport as Heathrow was then called and on to Staines Once over Staines Bridge things would start in earnest with riders jockeying for position as we approached Egham Hill Once over the hill it was a more or less straight road passing Virginia Water Sunning Dale and Sunning Hill and on to Bagshot which was the half way mark The rules if you could call them rules were simple it was first past the post there were no prizes to be had it was all for glory Once the bunch had reached Bagshot it turned around and raced back to the Kew Bridge café it was a 45mile round trip and the first man back was deemed the winner The total journey time was about 2 hours and we went in all weathers so it was a pretty hectic workout Richmond Park The Thursday night training run was either to Richmond Park or Box Hill For those who don t know Richmond Park is an enormous Royal park which is completely surrounded by a high wall Its original use was as a hunting ground for the Royal Kings going back to the 1630 s and to this day still contains large herds of Red and Fallow deer Inside its walls the park is circumnavigated by a road which we estimated to be about seven miles per circuit the aim of the training run was to complete three circuits in road race conditions It doesn t sound too difficult but just one circuit was enough for some Richmond Park has the highest point in the London area and this was echoed in the very punishing course with plenty of hills some short and steep others long and gruelling as well as some very fast stretches As with the Tuesday runs there were no rules we would all set off from the Kew Bridge Café at a leisurely pace and complete the five mile journey to the Richmond gate entrance of the park once inside things began to speed up as the bunch transformed itself into a Pelaton with serious racing in mind One thing that springs to mind and still makes me smile is that cars and motorbikes were also allowed to use the road it wasn t just for cyclists In those days the speed limit in the park was 15mph and being a Royal park it was quite heavily policed We were constantly being reported to the police by irate and law abiding motorists who d reported us for passing them at speeds in excess of 15mph Quite often a squad car would pull us up on the side of the road and give us a lecture about observing the speed limit We all pleaded ignorant as we had no way of knowing what speed we were going the Police seemed to work on the basis of that if you overtook a car you were going too fast but nothing ever came of it Apart from that Richmond Park was and still is an excellent venue for preparing you for the road racing season the vagaries of the undulating circuit will certainly sort out the men from the boys Box Hill Box Hill is in Surrey and part of the North Downs it is also very steep I ve heard quite a few different reasons why it is named Box Hill one was that years ago it was covered in Box Trees another was of some local ritual to do with Boxing Day who knows We never went there too often on our training runs as you had to ride about twenty miles just to get there but once there you knew you were going to suffer it was a hill climbers dream The journey from Kew Bridge would be very orderly more like a casual club run and it stayed that way for some miles We d pass Chessington Zoo go through Leatherhead and head for Dorking Once on the A24 the Dorking road the pace would lift a bit as the climbers got to the front At the village of Mickleham sign we would swing left go through the tiny village and on to the end of the lane A quick left turn followed by a right found you on the approach road to Box Hill A quick look up would confirm that you d arrived and the pain was due to start As daft as it sounds I found the flat approach road the hardest bit of the climb it was quite a long road and although it looked flat it was in fact a very subtle gradient which seemed to go on for ever I got the feeling that any strength I had left was being sapped away but was probably more to do with the fear of things to come After this you hit the climb proper a fairly narrow and uneven road up a one in four gradient with four or five hairpin bends which in themselves had to be one in three s Box Hill was also a popular venue for motor bikers who liked to test their machines out on the Zig Zag as the climb was known because of its hairpin bends It could be quite daunting struggling around a hairpin bend on the wrong side of the road only to find a great big hairy Biker coming towards you at a great rate of knots Once at the top

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/actonia-reminiscences.html (2016-02-09)
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  • Gears and racing in the 50's
    type were poor I had one with integral bearings where the journals on the axle were too far apart resulting in the hub floating sideways and wearing the shell I also had 1952 the freewheel hub which dragged the chain The main problem for British hub makers was changing from the 1 5 inch chain line as they were making them for 4 5 inch rear ends The gear side spokes were nearly vertical My Cyclo Benelux with handlebar controls would allow simultaneous front and rear gear changes off the saddle Impossible with the Campagnolo I think I was reading John Spooner s piece about Brooks saddles We used to do similar stuff Also Brooks would reblock saddles free of charge Reblock to them meant remoulding the saddle sometimes making it longer nothing to do with bending the frame I had a very rare direct account with Brooks and actually supplied Joe Whisker with some B17 s because he could not get them anywhere else I bought the Colnago from him end of 1972 which Mrs B used till the end of her career She had to adopt a road position for time trialling because of lacking her left collar bone I remember Ron Kitching bringing in the Cinellis some the colour of your green one and the original colour of the best model with the internal sloping fork crown which was a stone colour Later of course that became orange I was Ron s major customer in the south in the early 60 s I always got the 8 ounce Scheeren rims packed in the middle of a crate of 25 pairs of heavier rims I always ordered quantity lots with extra discount I seem to remember Clive Parker finished the Pro World championships in the early 50 s

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/body-reminiscences.html (2016-02-09)
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  • Jim Case - Paris - East London CC
    us I went to school with him We would again finish at the Alfa cafe We called a hill near Epping the wall because it was one in four On Thursday we were back to the Alfa cafe and usually took a ride to another cafe in Potters Street which was another cyclists favourite not far from Matching Green Afterwards there would be a blind back to the Alfa cafe Friday I believe we went to a club house at Upshire Good Intent near to the Wake Arms off Epping Road We had a set of rollers there Dennis Talbot could confirm On Saturdays we would have a tour of bike shops in the area In November 1949 I was called up for National Service After three months basic training at Padgate and six months trade school at Melksham this was the end of my cycling Jim now lives in Australia and would like to contact any of his old cycling friends 1 Mass start racing on perimeter track at the old airfield main runway in background at Matching Green Essex 1948 9 Jim Case on right with his Leach Marathon with Osgear and Major Taylor stem 2 Another shot

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/jim-case-rem.html (2016-02-09)
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  • Cycling in the Chesterfield area
    near Hatton in Lincolnshire Chesterfield group cape up in Derbyshire it s raining again 1950 s Two images of a hill climb event at 1960 s in the Peak district again possibly on the old road out of Castleton before it fell away near Mam Tor A track event at the Staveley Works cycling track near Barrow hill in Chesterfield early 50 s I am led to believe it is

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/chesterfield-chambers-rem.html (2016-02-09)
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    the year but also social events such as Christmas Dinners Christmas Plays and Fancy Dress Cycle Days see attached photos Dad was Shirley Temple on the left Dad kept the full script of the 1936 Christmas play It was in the club that he gained the nickname Squibs I have no idea why As well as tours in England and Wales Dad went on several tours abroad to Switzerland and Germany in 1937 and 1939 See the conditions they encountered in the two images below In spite of the snow they were wearing shorts in the Alpine sun As they left Switzerland they were thouroughly searched by border guards at the German border as can be seen below They were in Germany in the summer of 1939 just before declaration of war and thought they were going to have their bikes impounded at the border In fact the bikes were dismantled to look inside the frames I suppose to see if they were carrying any secret documents They were glad to get home that time CTC Travel Carnet 1937 showing Ronald with a Maclean bike By 1939 Ronald was listed owning a Claud Butler Unfortunately as for many people war intervened and this idyllic life was curtailed Dad enlisted into the Royal Air Force when war broke out and was stationed all over Britain and cycled whenever he could still returning to Sidcup Touring Club up until 1940 He was posted to Rhodesia in 1942 to train as a pilot However he did not pass his flying exams I suppose as we now know that was lucky He became an aircraft technician His love of cycling was still with him and he became one of the active members of the cycling club at RAF Cranborne Rhodesia From 1942 until 1945

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/tily-rem.html (2016-02-09)
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  • Cycling in the Canal Zone
    me round to the back of the car and we unloaded my crated Mercian in a somewhat chilly atmosphere Although I was delighted to get my bike I thought that tipping him might not be appropriate Training in the early days was a nightmare we had to go out in uniform and in groups of four until the situation became a little bit calmer Fayid village was in bounds as was Ismalia but still only in small groups Eventually things steadied a bit and we could get out on the bikes in whatever kit we could buy or scrounge I do remember that the Club on the camp was re named Fayid Road Club instead of The Scorpion CC and because of that we had a set of brand new racing jerseys all white with a broad red band round the chest Our unofficial club room was the Arizona Rest House just opposite the Camp gates on the Treaty Road hands up all those who recognise the photo Road Racing was very difficult due to the situation even out training in a small bunch the odd rock would be thrown There were quite a few races on camp roads at Kasfareet Deversoir Kabrit Abyad and Fayid Some of the riders I recall were Jim Ogden Eric Beauchamp Jim Pike Pete Eva Wilby John Basell Gee and Stone There were quite a few of us who were about the same standard so results were never guaranteed although Jimmy Pike had a killer sprint Time trialling was done mainly on the Canal Road down by the Great Bitter Lake keen competition and a surprisingly robust prize list of cups and medals I m looking at some of the medals as I write We did manage to put on a Three Day Tour of the Zone which took place towards the end of 1952 I believe Some of the details are now a bit sketchy but I think Kasfareet was one of the Stage finishes and the finish on Day Three was at Fayid Jim Pike won that stage with Brian Gee second Ronnie Calvert third myself fourth and Alex McWhirter fifth I can t recall who won overall but I bet someone somewhere has squirreled away the finish sheet RAF Three Day Tour of the Zone 1952 Finishers on third day at Fayid Left to right Alan Colburn 4th Brian Gee 2nd Jim Pike 1st Ronnie Calvert 3rd Alex McWhirter 5th There was great excitement at one time when it was announced that RAF Middle East Command had received an invitation to an International Road Race to be held in Malta Selection races were organised including rather bizarrely a Four Up Team Time Trial The Good News came I had been selected The Bad News followed after a few weeks the RAF couldn t find any seats for the team to get to Malta We weren t high enough up the pecking order obviously The day job continued to be routine for

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/canalzone-colburn-rem.html (2016-02-09)
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  • John Crump reminiscences
    race on the Claud was the Wyndham RCC 25 mile time trial held in April 1950 I finished third with a time of 1 7 50 the winners time 1 7 4 Good ride Crumpy my mates said I then decided to have a frame built by Bill Gameson in Tysley It was a 21 frame built with Reynolds 531db Nervex double butted tubing with chrome lugs fork and rear ends It was finished in the club colours being light blue with dark blue panels It had Chater Lea cranks Brooks B17N saddle Pellisier bars on a long chrome Reynolds stem GB brake Airlite hubs on Dunlop rims for training or with sprints for racing We always rode to the events with the bike loaded with the full kit We carried our sprints bolted to Cyclo carriers and held to the bars with toe straps Strip off the kit and off you go I used Dunlop 3 tubulars to race on with a low 84 single fixed gear I did the full season in 1950 doing some 4000 m pursuits and massed start races as well as time trials In June I won the club 25 time trial with a 1 4 07 then in September 1950 my finest ride I took third to Bas Frances and Bob Maitland in the NCU Centre Champ 25 with a best to date ride of 1 1 34 we also took the first place team prize Midland C AC Dinner report John Crump aged 16 years with his latest machine Later that year I finished second in the Ansty Road Race by inches in Oct 1950 and went on to end the season competing in hill climbs etc See above for a report of the club dinner in December 1950 The Midland C

    Original URL path: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/crump-rem.html (2016-02-09)
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