Cycling Stories in 2019
See what we're planning with your fantastic Cycling Stories!
Your incredible stories and Doncaster cycling memories have shown us that a bicycle is so much more than we often give it credit for. The easy means of transportation is so easily taken for granted, especially for those of us like Graham, who “could ride a bike almost before I could walk.”
To Graham, a bike was a catalyst for adventure. At only 12 years of age, he “set off down the Great North Road with just my pal Anthony, who lived off Sprotbrough Road and was only a year older than me, on a nine-day youth hostelling holiday through the Midlands, into Oxfordshire and the Chilterns, across to Cambridge and then up through the Fens and Lincolnshire.” He must have felt like Christopher Columbus, discovering new worlds on the flagship that was his bicycle.
For Owen, who customised an old bike given to him for his paper round with a pair of drop handle bars and a flashy new paint job, his bike transformed him from a child performing his paper round to a cyclist in an elite race. “Every time I rode it I imagined myself as Tommy Simpson or some other famous cyclist and it felt great! The drop handle bars weren’t ideal for a paper round but having a ‘racing’ bike made up for the inconvenience.”
Others, such as Roy Cromack, were not content with imagined races. Roy’s bike was the steed on which he became a champion, winning medals at every distance in the time-trialling championships. He even cycled for team GB at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico; his team finished just under two minutes behind the bronze medal winning Italian team.
For 16-year-old Mike, his bicycle offered him valuable life experience when, on a cycling excursion to the seaside with his friends, his bike chain snapped. “Necessity being the mother of invention and all that, I found a piece of wire in the gully at the side of the road which I was able to fashion into a chain link. Amazingly, the wire link held.” Mike seemed to cycle out of adolescence and into adulthood that day, due to the independence his bike allowed him. After returning from his trip, he remembers “later that evening walking to the village shops and the world seemed to have changed.”
For some, a bike can offer truly unique opportunities. For example, in 1962 when Askern Cycling Club’s fortnight visit to the Western Fjords of Norway unexpectedly became their 15 minutes of fame. Club-member Ian recalls, “We were staying in a youth hostel and a Norwegian newspaper reporter was also staying there. We got talking and before you know it our picture was put in the national newspaper in Norway. They were so surprised that a group of cyclists from England would come over to cycle around their country.”
Truly a bike can be many wondrous things and we can’t wait to hear even more stories, and to find out what a bike means to you. If any of these stories have set the wheels turning on any memories of your own, please email them to email@example.com.
On the 2nd May, the Tour de Yorkshire will be kicking off in Doncaster, and we will be celebrating with a pop-up exhibition on that day in Doncaster Marketplace. Come along and see us! It will be a great chance to learn more about Doncaster Cycling Stories, and to share some stories of your own.
The cycling fever will not stop there. In September, the UCI 2019 Road World Championships will be coming to Britain for the first time since 1982 and Yorkshire is lucky enough to be hosting the event. We thought there would be no better way to commemorate this new chapter in Yorkshire cycling lore than by sharing some of the fabulous memories submitted to us. So, throughout September, we will be holding an exhibition in our gallery showcasing some of your stories, a series of films inspired by them, as well as cycling artefacts and objects from Heritage Doncaster.
To see our full collection of stories so far, please visit cyclingstories.org.