‘When I were lad,’ the ‘Comic’ (Cycling Weekly) was different – come the winter there was proper coverage of the Six Days and cyclo-cross. It was hard to be unaware of what was happening in the ‘cross world – even 40 years later, I can remember John Atkins, Barry Davies, Chris Dodd, Ian Jewell and – Keith Mernickle.
Mernickle was a prolific winner in the south of England but for a long time had to play second fiddle to John Atkins come the Nationals.
Until 1976 that is, when the man who was sponsored by a jazz musician, snatched the title from Atkins.
Keith kindly gave of his time last winter but we left it too late to run the piece – so a little belatedly and in lieu of a race review from today’s Scottish ‘Cross Championships which had to be cancelled due to the icy course, here’s what one of Britain’s finest cyclo-cross riders had to say to VeloVeritas.
How long were you a professional ‘crosser, Keith?
“I rode Independent (semi-pro) ’63 and ’64; ’65 I was pro with EG Bates Cycles; Fred Dean Cycles for part of ’66 then Ryall-Weldwork for the rest of’66 and ’67;
“In ’68 I rode under my own steam then Ryall again for ’69 and in ’70 began an association with Chris Barber which lasted until 1980 when I retired from ‘cross and turned to running.
“Chris Barber used to have a full race team, but even when they disbanded that, they kept me on as a single sponsored rider.”
Give us your palmares, please.
“All told, I won around 300 ‘crosses in the UK – taking the Elite title in