Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Beginning of a Lifetime Cycling Passion

As an introduction to Cycling Scrap Book, I thought it might be relevant to offer a bit of personal background. It only came to my attention with 2012 morphing into 2013, my first cycling race was 1963.
That's 50 years ago. The race was what was then known as "The Schoolboys Cycling Championships".

Its how many of us started bike racing - before that, I would join my mates in the streets of Preston behind Bell Street for time trials around a suburban block. We used an old wind up alarm clock with a second hand that clunked its way around a huge clock face.

We had straight skid bars, probably a fixed wheel from memory and a rear brake so we could do great rear wheel skids in the school yard on weekends. The bikes were made up from old frames and wheels, other parts found or swapped. We even painted the frames ourselves, the final touch were those streamers that were fitted to the handle bar ends.

I made friends with another kid who was a real racing cyclist at secondary school in my first year, I even remember his name - Kevin Woodhouse. No skid bars for Kevin. He had a real racing bike and belonged to the Preston Amateur Cycling Club.
My father's old bike and my first real racing bike. We had it repainted with chrome tips to the front forks and rear stays.
I thought it looked pretty cool. Note the old Brooks saddle. Jack my father was an old mate of Henry Hill who organised the paint job. The rollers belonged to the person who introduced me to the sport - Kevin Woodhouse.
During that year the school that I attended was asking if there were any students interested in trying out for the Schoolboys Cycling Championships. Kevin suggested we should both enter in the school heats. I don't remember how many of us rocked up for the heats but I expected that Kevin was the man to represent us at the Zone Finals open section as he was a year older than me. As it happened, I represented the school in the Junior section with another Preston rider, Michael Kent. The bike I rode was one I found up in the rafters of our old garage. It was my father's old track bike - a Healing Special.

From that day with a success in the School Heats, I was captivated with bike racing. The Zone Finals were held on the Burnley Boulevard and the starting point was opposite the Richmond Cycling Club Velodrome. It no longer exists as it was in the path of the South Eastern Freeway project during the mid-60s.

I do know I finished in the leading riders as I was given a second chance along with others (2nd to 5th placings) to then compete in the Repercharge event but alas, I missed out on riding the Grand Final in 1963. I wonder who won?

The Junior Section entries.
Click on the photos for a larger view.
The Open Section entries.

So that was the beginning of my passion for the sport that has take up 50 years of my life (I'm currently 63).
This blog will take you over that 50 years (with a few gaps along the way) of cycling, not just about me but the people I met along the way. I expect some comments from readers and they don't all need to be positive. If I get it wrong, I expect you to let me know.
If you want to share your CYCLING SCRAPBOOK with the readers, then let's get together and write about it here.

We are lucky to be still enjoying the bike - many of our mates haven't been so fortunate.

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Nidi said...

Congrats on your new website! You have obviously kept paper memorabilia from your earliest cycling days and it will be good to see more of your experiences. We hope you get lots of followers!Nigel

Alistair Murray said...

Leon, I would love to follow your blog, oldtimer, if only I can work out how! Al

Leon and Sue Sims said...

Yes but I can see that your not short of a comment - ever.
Notifications on Facebook each post Al.

Leon and Sue Sims said...

Nigel - good to hear from you. I was wondering who Nidi was for a while. Clever.

Alistair Murray said...

I love this stuff, Leon.
You are a legend, just like these old guys you write about!
No idea how to sign up for your blog, but will visit it regularly!

phil stevens said...

Hi Leon
winner in the junior section 1963 was Vernon Pigdon from Sale High, open section winner was Frank Riches
from Terang High.
I made it to the 1964 Final at Chadstone car park, I placed 2nd to Alan Love, 3rd was Daryl Demarte, both those guys from Leongatha High.
I have most of the programs from the Schoolboys Championships, they were given to us by Ted Waterford.

Anonymous said...

Hi an interesting article about the two French riders. I currently own one the bike that Joseph Mauclair rode. The bike is original frame handle bars front forks and seat. Repainted in the original colors from 1930. If anyone is interested I can post some photos.