Having managed a few top 12 BBAR placings with Northampton CC - Vindec and Oundle Velo - KPA, the next natural step onwards and upwards was to join a club with team BBAR aspirations as I always thought mixing it with equally minded individuals was the best way to progress. I'd got to know Pete Wells and when he suggested I join the newly sponsored Edgware RC - Revox alongside Mick Burrow, Renny Stirling and Paul Bennett I jumped at the chance.
That winter's training was a real eye-opener for me. I'd never trained as hard as, or with anyone like, Pete and if there was a turning point to my racing career (term 'career' used loosely as it's never been a career as such ... just a hobby), this was it. I'd like to think this was where I moved on from being a 'wannabe' to a 'young pretender' . After all I had managed 11th place in the BBAR hadn't I? If I wasn't ACTUALLY any good at least I THOUGHT I was.
Pete and I shared some real batterings ... well I'd like to think we did. I certainly took some! There was no doubt about it though, Pete taught me a lot ... particularly how to suffer! During that first winter we used to meet up at his place in Stevenage and I remember many rides out along the A602 to Hertford. Pete never used to bother with warm-ups. Even in the middle of winter he'd be straight on to the big ring and he'd be showing me the half-wheel for miles ... and miles ... and miles. The pace just got faster and faster until he'd (or I'd) 'blow' ... then a truce would be called ... but only until he'd recovered enough to start it all over again.
I remember riding a 2-up 50 with him one winter up the A1 towards Stamford. We got as far as Stilton (having done the first 25 miles in around 53 minutes or so) before the (first) truce was called! I couldn't train like that now, but I've no doubt in my mind that that is what lead to my success during 1979 - silver medals in the National '100' and '12' and 3rd place in the BBAR.
The 'Cycling' front cover pic (left) shows us riding the early season Lea Valley 2-up on the E1. Even in 2-ups Pete used to sprint for town signs. Honest! :-)
I was never a great fan of 12 hours! Bernard Thompson captured one of the many 'fun' moments in this 'Cycling' front cover pic taken during the Luton Wheelers event in 1980. It was going to take another 18 years of trying before I won the national. If / when I list my 'Top 5 Hammerings', I wonder how many of the intervening 12-hours will figure?
MORE TO FOLLOW ... INCLUDING 'MEET MY FRIENDS' ...