Tuesday, 11 March 2008

#030 Work and Racing

Our business was still prospering and we enlarged the shop, sales of bikes and motorcycles and parts were increasing all the time. I personally had to change my riding habits from track to road racing. Training for me was difficult often going out in my "boiler suit" and work boots. I was still competing in the Nottingham Track League but not riding well at all due to the lack of training. During these early post-war years two more local clubs appeared - one is still going strong i.e. Long Eaton "Paragon" C.C. this club was formed by a group of cyclists who all had "Paragon" bikes made by that great frame builder Andy Bone of Arkwright Street, Nottingham, I can’t at this stage remember these riders, boys and girls but if I eventually do I’ll append them.

Early one season when Tommy Crowther was in charge of the road team, the club were running a 50 mile Time Trial and Tom was using the peformances in this as a yard stick for the forthcoming event to be held on Nottingham Forest, Norman Casswell and I decided to have a private time trial starting 5mins behind the "field". We rode our track bikes Norman rode 82" fixed and I had on 92". We were (for us) on real top form and finished in the event well under two hours. We, with Bill Henshaw, Alan Prentice, Norman, Alan Salt and Ken Minski formed the team. Early stages seemed great to me it was like riding on the track, that hill came round a few times to many though. On one of the sprints to the top of the hill , I saw Ken Minski sprint to the front, he rounded the bend at the top then for some unknown reason he missed the turn and ran straight in to a wooden form breaking his front forks, luckily he wasn’t to badly hurt. The tale goes that he had bought the frame from Mercian Cycles (Tom Crowther then) the day before. He took his frame back on the Monday to get it replaced under Guarantee!.

The Concorde lads wiped this event up winning all four first places. Norman and I finished well down but Bill Henshaw was fifth, Alan Salt and Alan Prentice also finished but we missed out on the Team award. Also riding well at the time and also to represent England and be top class proffessionals came the Huddersfield R.C. if my memory is correct they had Brian and Des Robinson,Ted Penvose, Brian Haskell, Gran Hayley and Tom Oldfield. 1950 eventually came round, by this time my daughter was two so I fitted a rear seat on my track bike and with her in it we did many miles, we also been talked into walking, going up Kinderscout most weekends taking Carol in a Carradice kiddy haversack.

Still trying to race and run the business, there was very little free time, but we did manage a week in Great Yarmouth in August, we got fixed in a house near the docks the arrangements which were quite common in the late "forties" the idium was rooms and service i.e. one paid for the rooms, bought your own food as required which the landlady cooked and did the washing up and cleaning, I do not remember the cost but it was "peanuts".

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