One of VeloVeritas’ functions it seems is unlocking the memories of those stalwarts – like our own mentor and soothsayer, Viktor and indeed, our editor Martin - who beat a path in the 70’s and 80’s to the legendary Mrs. Deene’s boarding house in Gent (and later in Zomergem) to show those Belgies how it should be done. The latest epistle which came our way was from Norman Gower.
It was May 1981 when Phil O'Connor took his first race picture; Manxman, Steve Joughin winning a stage of the Tour of Britain, 'Milk Race' as it hurtled into Bournemouth - some months later he managed to get it published in a cycling magazine.
The late Gary Wiggins’ sister Glenda Hughes, took to social media recently to remind us that some 13 years have passed since the big Australian died under mysterious circumstances. Wiggins had many sides – depending on how you knew him – which prompted us to re-run our review of his European glory to tragic end.
Following the sad passing of former British Amateur Road Race Champion and road track star Grant Thomas in The Netherlands we received many words of tribute to the man who defined ‘cool’ on a racing bike. Mr. Paul Kilbourne has featured on our pages before, reliving his memories of his time with the now legendary ANC team, gave us a lovely tribute to Grant, which we publish with pride.
There have been an AWFUL lot of crashes in the mere couple of weeks since racing resumed – Kruijkswijk out of the Tour, Roglic out of the Dauphine, Jakobsen pole axed in a Polska finale, Remco over a bridge – and we could go on. When we saw this piece on the website of our amigo, ex-World Junior Team Time Trial Champion, Nikolai Razouvaev aka ‘The Russian Crank’ we thought he made some interesting points.
We've been looking back on the life of the late Ron Webb – one of the most important men in the development of professional track racing and the construction of velodromes all over the World. But Webb was also a rider and cut his teeth behind the big motors. Pip Taylor passed us these words by Ron on some of his time as a Stayer.
In Part One of his account of ‘running’ at the SKOL Six Days in the early 70’s Pip Taylor told us about the 1971 race. For the 1972 race he’d moved up the strata and was ‘running’ for a bona fide ‘Blue Train’ pairing.
The Kazemaatenstraat is part of 70's cycling legend, a condemned cul-de-sac in Ghent where penniless 'Anglo' cyclists could have a cheap roof over their heads as they pursued their (mostly lost) cause to make it big and become a ‘Kermis King.’ Manchester's Bernie Nolan was one of those riders and has kindly agreed to share a few reminiscences with us...
At the time I set off for Flanders in 1973 to live at Mrs Deene's, I only knew two people who had raced there – one of them being Stan Butler’s son Keith - who had done well enough that he had become a professional - so it was entirely word-of-mouth, a case of asking for whatever advice people could offer and setting off on the cross-channel ferry, hoping for the best.
If you had visited or raced in Gent in the 60's and 70's the chances were that you would have stayed at ‘Fat’ Albert Beurick’s "Café Den Engel", his later joint-venture with Tom Simpson five miles out of town, the "Velotel Tom Simpson" motel, or "St David’s Guest House" run by Mrs Deene, right in the very heart of the historic old centre of Gent. Reader John Day reminisces about his time there.
"In Spring a young man’s fancy..." Well, this Spring, being no longer young, my fancy turned to applying for volunteering at the World Road Championships on the "Yorkshire Team", the events being held 22st to 29th September in Yorkshire, where I have been living for the past eleven years.
A couple of years ago we did a piece about the Colombian influence on European Cycle Sport and the best Colombian riders of the modern era, and at the end of it we mentioned a guy who we believed was going to be a 'Big'; Senor Egan Bernal by name. Since Bernal has become the first Colombian winner of the Tour de France we thought you make like to see what we said back then...
Foregoing my usual Saturday night at the movies I set the alarm for 05:00 am, reminded myself how much I like being in the Trossachs of a Sunday morning, sighed and switched off the light. Davie thought we were leaving his house at 06:45 am not 05:45 am - but we were soon on our way along the Hill Foots en route the Gran Fondo Scotland - Summer Edition.
did the last day of the Berlin Six Day, this year and one of the riders I was looking after was Australian Stephen Hall, son of former British Madison Champion, Murray Hall. It transpires Stephen is no mean wordsmith; we thought you might like to read his "Rules for Racing in Belgium" - whilst they're from an Aussie perspective so much of it is rock solid advice irrespective of your nationality, based on experience.
Drew Wilson’s ‘Robert Millar Appreciation Group’ has generated a lot of interest on FaceBook, with 1,185 members - by now everyone must know he was Britain’s greatest stage race rider until Team Sky and their marginal gains came along – we had another name for that ‘back in the day’...
Filmmaker James Poole made the Team KGF documentary after following the team (now re-launched as Team HUUB Wattbike) for a year on their journey from shock national champions through to World Cup and World Championship success, to create a film which presents the amateur riders' debut season which shook up the track cycling world as they self-funded and out-thought their way to the top.