Wednesday, 12 March 2008

#064 - 1958 - Peace Race - Part 3

The “rest day” was at Chemnitz, then called Karl Marx Stadt. After doing the bikes in the morning, now down to five, the lads had a small ride followed by a light massage. In the afternoon we were invited to a chocolate factory and found it very interesting. We also had a good time at a party arranged for us in the canteen, dancing with the office staff as well took our minds off the race. We also were given lovely presents and all the “smarties” we wanted. In return I had bought a load of BCF England lapel and blazer badges which I presented to the staff.

The metal badges made by Fattorni in Birmingham where a great hit. Next morning we were back for the third time in Czechoslovakia, my favourite of the three countries. After two days in Czech, Bill Bradley won the stage in to Brno - a brilliant ride and we were ecstatic. We should have got a place in the first three the next day, Brian was away with a group of three, but just prior to the stadium finish there is a short rise, Brian jumped the two but then his chain missed a couple of sprockets and all was lost, he was caught by another group on the cinder track. I took the blame.

Before the evening banquet a large television set was put in the main lounge. Celtic were playing a Dutch team in the European Cup Football, the place was packed and the atmosphere terrific especially as Celtic won. The next day UCI Representative (and Scottish Cycle Union Rep), Arthur Campbell and I were invited to the houses of my Czech friends Milan Perich and the race doctor, Merek Slavic. We all had a great day together, and after a few drinks we were singing all the old Scottish melodies, Arthur was our accompanist on his mouth organ. Wives Vera and Magda were excellent hosts. We flew from Prague in high spirits being met at the airport by the President of the BCF and some staff, Ernie’s wife and a few more. With Stan 9th , Owen 12th and Bill 17th that was an excellent finishing position for the team.

I had won and been presented with so many souvenirs that I filled completely one of those four wheel trolleys at the railway station! and was pretty laden down with my spares, bike, tools and special case (my nephew Alan collected me from Nottingham in our Ford 5cwt van).

Back to work with a bump again and of course pleased to see we were still busy, both repair shops were ‘up to the neck in it’ and we had to set on another mechanic, Steve Waplington, He was to be a good assembler when the crated Hondas came along in 1964, (he now works for Roy Pidcock Motor Cycles doing almost the same job).

Nottingham Track League had changed to Harvey Hadden stadium which was a tarmac track 3rd of a mile in circumference , to big really. I went down with my track bike tools and Dunlop brass double-acting foot pump. I thought I was going to get a ride, but I seemed to blowing every body’s tyres up and doing little jobs like truing wheels etc. I did eventually get a ride in the 5 mile scratch, I tried my usual jump with 4 laps to go but nothing happened, apart from a few rides on the tandem with Eric Thompson who thought I would be OK as his partner for he had just lost Peter Brotherton, my work commitments were to heavy to give up time for tandem training, I was 36 anyway and flattered. I suggested Geoff Cooke.

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