83 year old Fred Heritage has recently been made a life member of the Rye & District Wheelers.
Fred joined the Wheelers in 1947 with his brother Syd. They had been cyclists for ten years prior to becoming members covering many miles on two wheels, before, during and after World War Two.
With the Club they cycled hundreds of miles, including short and long distance rides. On Sundays they covered 70 miles in all-day runs, meeting other members, who only rode afternoon rides, for tea at numerous prearranged tea places as far away as Headcorn, Charing, Burwash, Biddenden and Sellinge in the summer months, closer to home in the winter. Pub stops were common as well on the hot summer Sundays, leading to fun and camaraderie.
The brothers did a bit of time-trialing, Syd was more serious as a racing cyclist and still holds the Rye – Folkestone – Rye Tandem record with Fred (Curly) Price. Fixed wheels bikes were common and carbide lamps were still relied on for lighting by many riders. Usually there were about 15 members out on the all day rides.
‘Curly’ Price was employed by Guinness and got permission for the club to use the lovely Tarmac roads that ran through the hop gardens. Members enjoyed these empty smooth roads often using them for short cuts.
Fred looks back on those days with great pleasure, it was for him and his brother a time of discovery and adventure and of making life long friends.
Fred still rides with the Rye & District Wheelers and clocks up many cycling miles. Gone is the old fixed wheel, he now owns a state of the art lightweight cycle with 20 gears. The roads are not so good nowadays, much more traffic and plenty of ‘pot holes’ but the bike is better and the friendship and camaraderie are still there.
Fred is the oldest and longest serving member in the club and the only one left who can show you the enamel ‘Sprocket’ lapel badge which every member had in 1947. He was “honoured” when he learned he had been made a Life Member.