The ‘Sprocket’ Page

The Adventures of the Rye & District Wheelers Past and Present

                                Reliability Trial

Nine members took part in a Reliability Trial organised by the San Fairy Ann Cycling Club of Maidstone.

The event had two courses, one of 33 miles and another measuring 50 miles. Roy Fritchley, Dave Patten, Mark Nash and Barry Goodsell chose the harder ride and finished together well inside the time limit set for the group.

Gary Booth, Morris Carpenter, Jim Hollands, Kevin Hall and Martin Carter took the shorter route. Gary, Morris and Jim finished half an hour inside the allotted time but unfortunately Kevin and Martin went astray and failed to finish.

                          Two Speed Sunday Runs

The Sunday runs have become too fast for some riders so there are two groups setting out from the Riverhaven Car Park at 9am on Sunday mornings. A breakfast place is decided upon at the start and the riders meet up there at ten-forty-five.

Anyone from 14 to 90 are welcome, on any bike, there are several riders using mountain bikes even though there are no mountains in this area! Come along, get fit and lose weight. The runs keep to country lanes wherever possible and go at the speed of the slowest rider.

The Tuesday run, meeting at the Riverhaven at 1pm. continues to be a gentle affair with a stop for tea and a chat along the way. New riders are very welcome, just turn up on the day or phone 222420 for further details.

                     First Race of the New Season

The first race of the 2005 season is a 10 Mile event run by the Southborough Club on the Tenterden Course.

Up to ten riders are expected to compete from Rye with Barry Goodsell and Roy Fritchley possible top ten finishers on a course they are familiar with and Katy Alexander will be out to win the Ladies Prize. The Wheelers Points Competition is held on this course in evening events throughout the summer months.

2005 promises to be an exciting year for the Rye Club. There will be a strong representation in many open events and it is hoped that there may be a challenge to Bernie Dean’s 12 Hour record.

Another Record for Katy

Katy Alexander, riding for the Rye Wheelers in the “Ely 25” in Cambridgeshire recorded 1-20-20 in a raging gale. Despite the weather this is a Ladie’s Club record and won her second place in the Ladie’s competition.

                            The Oldest Cycling Club

One of the special things about being part of the Rye & District Wheelers is that, even though the club lay dormant for over thirty years, there are enough original members from the 1945 -69 period to relate the stories and adventures of the club in that period to today’s new crop of riders. The 45-69 group had, in their turn, been told the stories of the prewar members, no doubt, the great Jim Gasson who rode for Rye in the races at Rye Sports and other local grass track events would have told them of his adventures at the beginning of the twentieth century.

In this way the events of those far off days has been handed down through the years, perhaps embellished a little by time and imagination when the memory was not quite there.

So we can still enjoy the thrill of Jim Gasson lapping the field in the three mile cycle race at Rye Sports in 1907, beating riders from as far away as London, Hastings and Eastbourne, a feat emulated in the years just before the Second World War by the great Les Hatter. He did it year after year, even with a bigger and bigger handicap each time.

After the War the club was asked to carry a flaming torch, ignited by the Lord Mayor of London, from London Bridge to Rye to light Rye Bonfire, using a relay of three tandems. There are many stories of this event told by the late Jim Sergeant that have become legend in the club.

Then there was Bernie Dean’s epic Twelve Hour ride in the Kent Cycling Association event of 1957. Mick Ashdown winning the Sussex Track Championship in 1965 and Mervyn Robbins losing his false tooth in West Wickham High Street in the middle of the night!

What stories will be carried into the future from today’s group? No doubt the epic tussle for the “10” mile record between Roy Fritchley and Barry Goodsell will feature and be retold many times. The amazing Katy Alexander, who breaks records every time she races and Granville Bantick, who gets lost every other time he races, all will be remembered.

There are so many other stories of astounding feats and failures, laughs at the good times spent awheel and sorrow when remembering lost cycling friends. They may be gone but their memory will always be carried forward as long as the wheels of the oldest cycling club in the world keep turning.

March 2005 Issue of “Rye’s Own”

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