Join the Bidlake Cycling Club and help safeguard Cycling's heritage
For a lot of today’s current crop of racing cyclists, the name FT Bidlake and what it represents
probably doesn’t mean an awful lot. To anyone as old as me (and, let’s face it, there can’t be many
left still alive surely!) it’s part of Cycling time trial’s heritage.
Mr Bidlake was instrumental in the way British time trialling evolved and much has been written about
him elsewhere by people more gifted in the literary department than I am … so I won’t even try to go
there! (Try Googling FT Bidlake for more information) ;-)
Unbeknown to the majority of today’s cyclists is the fact that, for many, years, a committee has
convened once a year to agree on a suitable recipient for the Bidlake plaque. This is awarded for
‘outstanding achievements in cycling’. Previous winners include Beryl Burton, Reg Harris, Andy
Wilkinson, Phil Griffiths, Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish to name but a few.
Back in the day, being awarded the plaque was something really big! These days I wonder what
significance the likes of Wiggins and Cavendish put on winning it?
Having said that, I believe it’s part of British cycling’s history and without a doubt should be supported,
encouraged and publicised so that the legacy can go on and that any future significant contributions
to British cycling should continue to be recognized.
I recently met with Peter Whitfield and spent almost four hours over a plate of sandwiches, a basket
of chips, half a pint of Cider and three pints of Guiness (all of which were mine!) mulling over the state
of domestic time trialling and where it’s going in the future. Just before the good lady behind the bar
subtly suggested it was time for us to leave by grabbing her coat and sitting by the exit door juggling
her keys, we touched on the subject of the Bidlake award and agreed it was time to do what we can
to rekindle the cycling public’s interest in, and awareness of, it. It would be too great a thing to lose
… and I’m sure there are many out there who would support that view.
The actual Committee has already met and agreed that a Bidlake Cycling Club is to be set up and that members will receive a bi-monthly ‘Bidlaker’ on-line publication, not to mention the other fringe benefits which includes the warm glowing feeling one gets when one supports something as important as this.
I have already received a draft of the first issue of the ‘Bidlaker’ and, believe me, it is a work of art … if only for the fact there is a very interesting Q and A session with me in it (remember I’m biased though!).
The Bidlake Cycling Club is already affiliated to the CTT and will be organising an open event in the coming season.
In addition to promoting Bidlake and the memorial award, the formation of the club will hopefully result in some much needed revenue to, not only, allow the awards to continue (the plaques are VERY nice and must cost an arm and a leg) but also help to fund the maintenance of the Bidlake garden.
Hidden away, just off the A1 at Sandy, Bedfordshire, lies a small triangular plot of land bounded by large (VERY large!) conifers and a quant stone wall. Within the confines of the boundary features is a poignant reminder to Bidlake in the form of a sun dial and a memorial plaque which has been inlaid into ornate stonework.
Only a couple of years ago, I took Luke Evans of Cycling Weekly to have a look as he was unaware that anything like that still existed in this modern day world of power meters, wind tunnels and the like. He reckoned it was quintessentially British and typical of time trialling through the ages. I wondered how many other current day cyclists didn’t (and don’t) know of its existence.
Cycling’s future will take care of itself. Indeed it is blossoming beyond all our wildest expectations. It is the history of the sport which we are in danger of losing and if the ‘old-timers’ don’t do something now, it will disappear without trace along with the likes of Cycling’s original ‘Golden Book of Cycling’ (were you even aware there was such a thing? Well do some research and you’ll see there was. It disappeared without trace!).
For an annual club subscription of just £25.00 you can be the proud recipient of the ‘Bidlaker’ every two months for one whole year. If that isn’t enough to tickle your fancy, do your bit for the history of the sport and help protect its future. Contact Peter (and send him £25.00) today.
UPDATE: Not too sure if the Bidlaker is still being produced or if Peter is still associated with the Bidlake committee ... BUT the committee is still looking for assistance in maintaining the garden etc. https://www.gofundme.com/f/ft-bidlake-memorial-garden-appeal
The Bidlake plaque - awarded annually for outstanding achievements in cycling
Frederick Thomas Bidlake
The Bidlake memorial garden