Wednesday, 12 March 2008

#041 - 1954 - Common Wealth Games Selection

1954 was Commonwealth games year, in the summer the N.C.U ran its first road race on the highway, previously the N.C.U had only run races on closed circuits. The race was open to all riders - categories were not arranged until the N.C.U amalgated with the B.L.R.C naming the new association the British Cycling Association. This event was limited to 60 riders of which two came from Long Eaton C.C. - Bill Henshaw and I.. The event started near Fazeley and going past the famous golf course Stan Jones (later to ride in the Tour de France) broke away but Bill and I chased and caught him just after the island on the A5, we were away along the A5 then turned left on to the A453 then left again on the A446 thus completing a lap. I stayed with these two for two laps when I took my usual lack of training “packet” and got dropped on the long drag up the A453. I chased for about 3 mile when I was caught by a large group with the Concord, Solihull, Midland R.C and Huddersfield riders. I was dropped from this group after about 10 miles and then I packed. Bill Henshaw finished 6th an excellent performance.

In July that year we had entered a Commonwealth games selection event held near Leek, we still had the trusty Morris and in it was five of our club, at the bottom of Swinscoe near Waterhouses we came upon Dot and Eric Thompson. Who were riding to the event, Eric waved us down saying he wasn’t going to make the start, and this for him was a very important event, in fact I think it was the final event for selection. We put Eric and Dots bikes on the back (good job we had a long strap) that made seven bikes and seven riders. Can you see modern cars doing this now.

We arrived at the start just in time to collect numbers and have the bikes tested. I did not start, Eric Thompson won this event in one of his fiery sprints and as history tells us he won the road race in Vancouver later that year. We all rode in the Dublin-Galway-Dublin event, little did I realise at the time that this would be my last event apart from the national champs at Rugby which was won by John Perks of Earlswood C.C. John now I remember had won the Tour of Ireland that same year. Pete Rhodes rode in Ireland that year, I punctured on the back road to the crossroads at Maynooth, I chased and was almost up with the bunch when I saw Pete miss the “T” junction and land in the ditch, the “Sag” wagon was just behind him as the group was “tout ensemble” Pete picked his bent bike up and threw it from one end of the van to the other - and it was a long van - I nearly fell off my bike laughing. We finished well down although we enjoyed our stay in Ireland ( we always did).

The business was still doing very well and our relations with Triumph Engineering Co were first rate. Most years we invited all personell of the spare parts and service departments to a dinner and bought tickets for the Test match at Trent Bridge. A great time was had by all but we knew that these great men helped us outside all reason. Our orders were always fulfilled, the parts manager going down the “track” if any parts were in short supply, the service and repair shops could not do enough for us either. Little did we realise that in 17 years time the demise of this wonderful company and they and their staff would be no more. One particular year after we had invited the staff to the test match, I called at the Triumph works as usual to pick up parts. The manager came out and asked which was my van. We had the old Bedford still, the manager asked if I had time to wait a few minutes whilst they loaded the van with parts I had ordered, I kept noticing that one of the staff kept going past with a loaded trolley. When I eventually got to my van to drive to B.S.A I found it loaded with 10 Service Exchange crankshaft complete with connrods and 10 650cc cylinders barrels, this great haul enabled us to give a Service Exchange business second to none. We were also doing well with B.S.A, Norman Vanhouse making us full agents for parts with the corresponding higher discounts. Derbyshire Police were also showing interest in new TR6 Triumphs complete with Avon Fairings, we were invited to put in our tender which was successful andin early 1960 supplied them with 12 machines which were to last them until 1971 when they bought B.M.W. due to Triumphs demise.

No comments: