The “Sprocket” Page
Adventures of the Rye & District Wheelers Past and Present
May has been another great month for the Rye & District Wheelers. There were no less than ten Rye riders entered for the first Tenterden “10”, this despite losing ever present Kevin Hall to an ankle operation that will put him out of action for several races. Barry Goodsell produced the fastest ride of the evening, beating riders from Tenterden, Ashford and Hastings. Barry had beaten all the Hastings riders in that club’s “Hilly” eight mile time trial two evenings before. Add that to Jon Beasley’s first in the most improved rider award in the KCA “10” the previous Sunday and it becomes clear that the Rye Club is fast rivalling the feats of the Wheelers of the 50’s and 60’s. The New Club Jerseys May month saw the arrival of the new club jerseys, a very smart outfit incorporating the prewar “Sprocket” logo on the shoulders, keeping a strong connection with the Wheelers of yesterday in a very up to date design.
Mike Ashdown Back
Mike Ashdown, Rye Wheelers star track man of the sixties, is back with the Club after 35 years. He rode in club colours in the Dave Ashdown Memorial “10”, the Rye Club Championship, on Saturday 21 May and recorded second fastest time.
Dave Ashdown Memorial Club Championship “10”
Saturday 21 May
Barry Goodsell 24.11
Mick Ashdown 26-57
Jon Beasley 26.43
Bill Waters 29.04
Gary Booth 28.41
Jim Hollands 32.33
Mervyn Robbins 39.33
Granville Bantick DNS
Dave Ashdown Riding for the Wheelers in 1966
Stalwarts of the 50’s & 60’s Jon and Dave Ashdown (right) at St. Leonards in 1959. Jon and Dave were two of the Club’s staunch supporters in that period. Dave became the Captain of the Wheelers, a position he retained up to the time the Club became inactive in 1969.
Dave and Jon continued cycling. Jon with the Hastings Club and Dave joined the Bexley C.C. with whom he raced until his untimely death in 1994. He watched the Tour pass when it went through Hythe with Sean Yates in the peleton – but had moved on to the land where the wind is ever behind, the sun always shines and the road slopes down – before the race finished in Paris.
Dave Ashdown was always known as ‘The Captain of the Wheelers’, he was much more than that, he was the spirit of the Rye Wheelers. That spirit is carried forward with every Wheeler that rode with him and many today that never met him. His legend lives on in the stories that are passed down the years – He was a tireless racer and never gave up the chase in a road race or track event and always made a point of finishing in every time trial he started,.
Dave is still there on every club run, carried in the hearts and minds of those that pass over the same roads that he rode so many times. R.I.P. Good Friend.
The year unknown – Location, one mile from Hythe. Is this the Rye Cycling Club Sunday run?
What a wonderful selection of machines and what good condition they are in. Could the chap on the left be a young J. H. Gasson?
Speculation will no doubt carry on. All that is known is that the photograph was salvaged from somewhere fairly local. Perhaps our historians can throw more light on it.
So many things have changed since those early days that it is hard to appreciate the difficulties and enthusiasm of those riders, who got some satisfaction out of peddling high bicycles or heavy and cumbersome tricycles, on solid tyres, over the so called roads, many of which were not rideable at certain times of the year.
‘Most main roads were surfaced with granite stones, gravel or chalk, and they were usually in a very bad state, pot holed and rutted, very dusty and loose in dry weather, muddy and slippery in wet conditions. Frequent tumbles and breakdowns were all part of the game, and for the early riders there was much prejudice and even some hostility to contend with. We are told that, for a time, the cyclist was looked upon as a pariah, with almost everyman’s hand turned against him, fair game for the taunts, sarcasm and brickbats of every hooligan. This unfriendly attitude helped to draw all cyclists together and it was found that company riding, especially such as afforded by the uniformed clubs, was the safest way to carry out a ride.
Life in some respects may be simpler and more placid than it is today, but the cyclist had an adventurous time, which was not always fun, and his toughness and keenness will be greatly admired by the rider who realises how much he owes to the pioneer of his sport and pastime. (From Jack Southerden’s Eighty Year Awheel)’.
Jack Southerden wrote those lines back in 1956. Much has changed again since then. The prolification of the motor vehicle and the terrible deterioration in the condition of country lanes and minor roads generally is bringing some of those old evils back. A group of cyclists on a busy road are often treated to uncalled for abuse and pot holes in country lanes are fast becoming a hazard again. Now is the time to put pressure on local government to construct proper cycle paths, the like of which are already commonplace in other developed countries.
Rye & District Wheelers Pre-War Adventures
By Jim Sargent
Rye Cycling Club became Rye & District Wheelers in 1932. I joined three years earlier in 1929. The President was Jim Gasson known as ‘Gentleman Jim’; the time-keeper was George Farr, who had the jewellers at the top of Hilders Cliff, (now Gilfrin’s). Other members that I can remember were Ernie Odell, who had a cycle shop an Market Hill, (now The Campion Art Gallery); Frank Clark, the gentleman’s hairdresser; Les. Hatter, a baker who worked for Jempson’s at Peasmarsh; Fred ‘Curly’ Price and Ken Padgham. Bicycles could be bought for about £3. I had a hand built, made to measure racing cycle built for me for £8,
although my average weekly wage was about £3! We used to meet at the ‘Railway Hotel’ (now the ‘Cinque Ports’). Later we moved our H.Q. to ‘Britains Tea Rooms’ in Cinque Ports Street, where Barry Rivers shop is now. We met every Sunday, alternating between half and full day outings. Favourite tea places were at Canterbury, Charing, Cranbrook, Headcorn and Boreham Street. Tea costs between 9d. and 1/3, for as much as we could eat! We often met with other clubs like Hastings, Bexhill and Eastbourne. During the summer months we organised regular time trials, starting at Monkbretton Bridge ; either 10, 25 or 50 miles! Ladies were admitted in 1930, and my wife Sally was one of the first. The ladies were considered to be very daring, wearing shorts, and in fact, Sally had to leave home wearing a skirt, and change out of sight of her father! (This problem was solved when we later married). I started competing on the Salts, during Rye’s yearly Sports Day in 1930, this event had been running many years before then. The Club got friendly with Rye Athletic Club, and used to hold running and cycling races – Cross country from Udimore, near the ‘Plough Inn’, coming out at Pelsham in Peasmarsh. We cycled when possible and carried our bikes and ran when it wasn’t! We also used to compete in Hastings Inter-Club 25 mile events and Kent Association meetings at Headcorn. The Club was affiliated to the Kent Cycling Association. By the outbreak of War the Headquarters had moved to the ‘Cock Inn’ at Peasmarsh.
After the War the Club was reformed, and together with other East Sussex Clubs, we formed the East Sussex Cycling Association, (E.S.C.A.). The inaugural meeting was held at the Ash Tree Inn, Bowlers Street. For one of the first Post War Bonfire Nights, three tandems, (one ridden by myself and Jim Catt; Gorden and Peggy Lamb rode another, and a third couple who I cannot remember) rode to the Houses of Parliament, where a torch was lit by the Mayor of Westminster. We took it in turns to carry it back to Rye. We were met at Beckley, and escorted by the Rye Motor Cycle Club. At Playden the rest of the cycle club met us, and we then proceeded to the Salts, where the bonfire was lit!
Rod Harrow is Back
Rodney Harrow, one of the Club’s best all rounders of the late sixties, is back in the fold.
The list of past members who have returned and are racing grows. Mervyn Robbins, Jim Hollands, Gary Booth, Mike Ashdown and now Rodney Harrow.
Stuart Pope is a member again but has not been persuaded to race again – yet!
Nineteen members have competed in races throughout the season, this is an all time record for the Club. Three ladies have competed, Katy Alexander, Claire Reed and Julie Bryant.
Two Juvenile riders, Jack Goodsell and Barney Reed rode several Evening “10”s. Jack broke Gary Booth’s 1962 a couple of times, finally getting down to 28-59. Barney was not far behind, setting a personal best of 29-02, just three seconds slower. Look out for close competition between these two in 2006.
Jim the Hill Climber
An unlikely story but none the less true. In 1957 the Chairman was just a ‘streaky rasher’ at 10 stone. He won the Club Hill Climb Championship, beating the legendary Bernie Dean by one second and decided to go on to bigger things. He met his match on York Hill in the Catford, finishing the steep climb in a state of exhaustion in 89th. position. He rode an event the following year, the R.A.F. Championship Climb at Cliff Pyard and ended up in 67th. position. By 1963 when the National Championship came to the Catford he had learned his lesson and let Jon Ashdown have the ‘glory’ of representing the Wheelers.
The 2005 Club Championship “50”
Sunday 18 September was the day of the very first Rye & District Wheelers Club Championship 50 Mile Time Trial. Held in conjunction with the Kent V.T.T.A.
event. Four Rye riders entered this tough race, run off over two tours of the New Romney – Brookland -Ashford roads. On a fine autumn morning with very light breezes the times were good; Barry Goodsell winning in 2-14-22, just over a minute outside Bernard Dean’s 1958 Club record time. Jon Beasley, the club “100” Champion had done a 2-13-45 earlier in the season and was rated with a good chance of beating Barry and the club record. It was not to be, Barry, the Club “25” Champion took the “50” Championship by a minute and a half over Jon’s 2-15-01 effort. Jim Hollands was third in 2-46-25
Full Result 1. Barry Goodsell 2-14-22 2. Jon Beasley 2-15-01 3. Jim Hollands 2-46-25 Dave Patten D.N.S.
WHEELERS GO INTERNATIONAL
It was gold awards all round when a team of three Rye
Wheelers took part in the Abbeville Grand Sportive Trophy Ride. The three crossed the Channel on 10 September and raced the following day. There were two events, one of 120km. and the other 180km. Mike Ashdown and Jon Beasley rode the shorter event and Jon Finn-kelsey competed in the 180km. Jon Beasley punctured with 4km. to go and Mike Ashdown crashed less than half a mile from the finish. Mike remounted and claimed 81st. place out of 529 starters in 3 hours 47 minutes. Jon repaired his puncture and rode in less than six minutes after Mike (3h-53m-15s.) Jon Finn-Kelsey chose the longer event and claimed a gold award with a time of 5 hours 30 minutes. The lads, who were accompanied by Jon
Ashdown, booked in for bed & breakfast and returned to Abbeville on the train the next day because of Mike’s injuries but all of the lads enjoyed the event and will be returning next year. This is the first time that Rye riders have competed abroad but it seems an even stronger representation will be made next year.
From the 2005 Wheelers Year Book
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