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John Watson – Racing a Great (Five Year) Career in the ’60’s

"I wasn’t impressed with how the French ate breakfast, dunking bread spread with margarine into their coffee and seeing the grease floating on top of it…"


John Watson started racing at 18 years-of-age in 1966, his first race was a ‘25’ which he won with a 1:00. By the following year he was National ‘100’ Champion; in 1968 he went to the Mexico Olympics; in 1969 he set a 12 hour record which stood for a decade; 1970 saw him set a ‘50’ record which sliced nearly four minutes of the previous fastest time for the distance and lasted for 13 years, win the BBAR, get fourth place in the prestigious GP de France time trial and get offered a place with ACBB.

Then he quit, aged just 23 years – Mr. John Watson, time trial legend. 

How did you get into the sport, John?

“I began racing very late, I was 18 years-old.

“My mum and dad were both cyclists so I knew that one day I’d get into the sport but I was good at cricket and rugby as a youngster.

“I played rugby at a good level and the team wanted me to go on with them but it’s a sport where you get a lot of injuries and in August 1965 I went out on my first ride with the Clifton CC on a Tuesday evening, I was hooked.

“The Clifton had a great bunch of guys, Tony Boswell, Ian White and the late