Old Father Time doesn’t mess about, not for the first time he’s beaten me to the punch. I had planned an interview with British ex-pro Jim Moore who emigrated to Canada in 1974; he enjoyed a long and varied career – from amateur road and track man in the UK to ‘independent’ in France, representing GB in the 1964 Tour de l’Avenir, a ride in the Skol Six Day, a successful pro career in the UK before crossing the Atlantic, and I was looking forward to speaking with him.
Perhaps it’s because I’m a dinosaur but there just seems to be so much more colour to riders from the 60’s and 70’s, in those pre-internet, mobile phones, cheap flights days.
English wasn’t the universal language and to relocate to France to race took much fortitude
But sadly Jim passed away in June of last year, a few month’s before his long time friend and fellow Vancouver resident, Norman Hill.
However, Scottish ex-pat and former Glasgow Ivy CC man, Gus Patterson connected me with Jim’s widow, Joan and she very kindly shared her memories of life with Jim with me.
Like many, Salford-born Jim entered the sport via the CTC – Cyclists Touring Club – then gravitated into racing, initially time trials and then on the track at the famous but now sadly gone, Fallowfield Stadium in Manchester.
He soon caught the ‘massed start’ bug, riding for Manchester Mercury Road Club with his first appearance in the palmares websites listing the Woodbank Trophy at Stockport in 1959 as his first win.
He finished his apprenticeship as an engineer with Metropolitan-Vickers in 1961 and promptly resigned to head across the Channel to Saint Brieuc to race as an ‘independent’ or ‘semi-professional.’
I could find no details of his French palmarès but races in Brittany and Normandy were plentiful in those days and he made enough in place money and primes to support himself and spent four years in the Heartland of French cycling.
In the winter he would return to the UK to work and build savings. It was during one of these winters home he met his future wife, Joan who remembers;
“When he was home from France in the winter he’d get a job, I was working at De Havilland the aircraft manufacturer and Jim was working there as an engineer – that’s where we met.
“But then he’d go back to France in March and he wouldn’t return until October but we’d write to each other and I go over on my holidays.”
In 1964 he rode the Tour de l’Avenir with the British team finishing 64th @ 1:51:33 to the late, great ‘Campionissimo,’ Felice Gimondi with soon-to-be big names like Lucien Aimar, Jos Spruyt, the late Desire Letort, the late Raymond Delisle and Gerben Karstens all in the top 10 on GC.
When Jim returned to the UK, he turned pro with some websites showing him as having ridden for O’Brien – EG Bates in 1964 but what is sure is that he rode for the Croad team for three seasons, 1966 to 1968.
His other teams were Bantel, alongside pursuit king, Hugh Porter from 1969 to 1971 then Ernie Clements’ Falcon team in it’s various incarnations from 1972 until the end of his career in 1974.
Jim married Joan in 1967 and she had to adapt to life as the wife of a professional cyclist;
“I didn’t really understand what was involved in being a professional cyclist, I knew about the Tour de France of course – I thought the leg shaving thing was a bit strange but it was lots of fun going to races where I’d meet up with other riders’ wives and girlfriends.
“I just got used to being left on my own when he was out on long training rides, and so I pursued my own hobbies like walking and hiking.”
I asked if Joan went to most of his races;
“Oh yes, I remember going to watch him in the Skol Six but ironically I wasn’t at his biggest success when he won the Tom Simpson Memorial Race in 1972 as I was probably taking care of our young daughter Nicole at that time.”
Jim rode the 1968 edition of the Skol Six day with Londoner Tony Gowland – who would go on to win the race in 1972 – Jim taking the place of John Clarey who was in the programme as Gowland’s partner but crashed out before the race started.
Jim didn’t finish the Six, crashing out on the Friday night but receiving plaudits from legendary journalist, J.B. Wadley who was impressed by Jim’s riding in the presence of Six Day legends like Peter Post, Patrick Sercu, Dieter Kemper, Bugdahl and the other ‘vedettes.’
His biggest road success was indeed the 96 miles Tom Simpson Memorial in 1972 where he soloed the last eight miles to hold off the chasers by mere seconds.
But a glance at his palmares demonstrates his versatility; a medallist in the British 5000 metre Professional Pursuit Championship, criterium wins, top 10 in the National Cyclo-cross championship, a proficient rider behind the big motors as well as a talented roadman.