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H-B Designs News Blog

Memory Lane No.2.

24 January 2011

cycle speedway

I would like to think dear reader that when you obtained your first set of wheels,  be it a tricycle, fairy cycle, an asp(all spare parts) origin unknown, your big brother’s hand-me-down or mum’s sit up and beg job, you suddenly had the exhilarating urge to be Stirling Moss – yes, I am going back a long way. OK! Let’s settle for Jenson Button. The surge of power from your legs driving the pedals round as fast as your strength allowed, head low over the handle bars and making a roaring noise, which, in truth, was nothing like sound of a motor bike, or racing car engine, but that was of no consequence. You were Geoff Duke in the250cc TT race on the Isle of Man.( It is that special carefree time in our boyhood when such moments become the border between fantasy and the real world). And you were not alone. Your mates were soon tearing along beside you neck and neck, to see who would get to the far end of the rec[recreation ground] first, where the sports pavilion was the natural finishing post.

Behind the pavilion which backed onto brook meadow, mounds of soil had been dumped. These mounds had been there for a very long time and, quite understandably, had naturally grassed over.  Riding up and down and round these ‘hills’ was great fun.  The meadow became our biking assault course, and we soon created a crude but effective race track.  Thus was born in my village what became universally known as cycle speedway.

My Uncle Bert owned and ran a cycle & electrical shop in the village. He became our mentor and guiding light in starting & managing Cholsey Chequers Cycle Speedway Team. The name was adopted as the prepared race track was created  on a piece of ground behind the pub called the Chequers(I doubt that this is a pub any more, as this all happened 60 years ago). 

Cycle speedway events were held between the village team and lads from other villages in and around the North Berks area. Wherever a piece of ground could be found it was turned into a cycle speedway track.  In the country or the town, lads would form racing teams and compete against each other. There were plenty of spills and thrills, and crowds of locals would come along and watch these gladiators on wheels. The Second World War was over and life in general was striving to recapture the community spirit now that peacetime had returned to urban and rural areas throughout the land. This is just another anecdotal account of how the humble bike enabled many people young and old, to enjoy a cheap new found freedom.


The Bike Father

Author: H-B Designs

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