Maggie had been a world cycling champion and Andy specialised in tailor-made frames, with attention to detail, as we’re all a different size and shape. My job was varied, I would pay the bills, run errands, do wages, and measure the cyclists. Some people cycled all the way from Sheffield and back in a day just for a fitting!! I was exhausted just thinking about it.
Whilst I’d learnt to ride a bike as a young girl, I was no enthusiast and really had no understanding of the sport. But this was a steep learning curve. One aspect of my job was to drive either the commissaire’s (judge) car behind the lead pack, or drive the maintenance vehicle behind the local races. Or I might be asked to ‘feed’ the cyclists on a non-stop race and would have to run alongside a cyclist passing a drink or some food and then watch where they threw away the containers so I could pick up after them.
Prior to a race, I’d walk into the prepping ‘shed’ and be hit by a smell of a strong menthol gel that they’d put on their shaved legs!!! YES, shaved Legs, I couldn’t believe it, all these grown men shaving their legs just so that they could be more aerodynamic… It was so serious!!
On another occasion, there was a big cycle event being held at York race course over the weekend. All the bike suppliers had stalls at this event and there were a few competitions being held. Most of the accommodation was in tents in the middle of the course, which is what I was offered, being much younger I wasn’t fazed by this.
Two weeks before we left, one of the lads was given the use of a tandem, he just had to find someone to go on the back….. yep, you’ve got it, he asked me ‘Can you ride a tandem?’ and always up for a challenge. I said yes!! So, with only 2 weeks to go, we decided we should get some practice in, sadly this was only one trip around Farnley Moor and so we left. I honestly can’t remember most of the trip, we did stop once for refreshments and I do recall taking my feet of the pedals at one point for a bit of a breather but what I still recall is how saddle-sore I was, and that night I was sleeping in a tent on a bit of foam. The following day, I could barely sit down, and my ability to walk wasn’t too good either. However, the highlight of the weekend was a Sunday morning service at the Cathedral, at the end of this, all the cyclists amassed outside on their bikes, unusual bikes went to the front, and there was a bike parade around York city, before we went back to the race course for the final afternoon. I managed to persuade one of the other lads to go back on the tandem and I offered to drive his bike home.
This one event has become a bit of a ‘USP’ (unique selling point) for me, as not many people can say they cycled to York on a tandem!
Linda Bettany, Golcar Providence Church