To be strictly true, the Club, in 1956, should have been singing 21 THIS YEAR! Strange to think if the Club was an individual it would have received the vote. You could also go the bar and buy your own drink. For the Redmon reaching 21 was a real milestone. In his history of the 21st year Alec Wingrave described it as ‘the greatest year in the Club’s history’. We certainly had a cold start when our first club event on medium gears (72″ or less) was held on the Portsmouth Road 25 course. Conditions were Arctic, the roads ice-covered and run in a blinding snow-storm. Only 1 solo and 3 trikes finished and the winner was Bob Oldridge on his trike in 1.21.07. By Easter, a few weeks later, the weather had changed sufficiently for the Isle of Wight Festival party and the trip to Abbeville spent most of the time riding in shorts.
However, if the temperatures had been a record low the Club’s year was certainly on a ‘record’ high in more senses than one. This was the year Alec dubbed ‘the year for records’ – he was right (as he always is according to himself!) Alec had just joined the Club having moved from the Navy and Portsmouth to civvy street and Carshalton. Alec was a trike rider and Jim Burrow another of that strange band wanted him to team up with Bob Oldridge on a tandem-trike for a go at some records. Alec targeted the Southern Road RA records. Plans were laid, schedules put in and off they went and so did the records! First, the 50 on the Chichester 50 TT course was broken by 6 minutes in spite of puncturing the front wired-on. Date May 15th, new record 2.5.30. Next was the Purley to Eastbourne and back – it was an awful day but Alec and Bob still battled over the 99 hilly miles taking 10 minutes off the record in 5hrs. 02mins. 44secs. The 100 miles was a natural. On July 10th Alec and Bob knocked 10 minutes off the old time with 4.52.23. At the same time, Percy Huggett, another bearded, deerstalker-hatted Trikie went for the 204 1/2 mile Holyhead to Cardiff Welsh RRA record. Our friends in the Newport Phoenix organised this attempt which was successful with a time of 13hrs.32mins.23.secs. Not to be outdone, Ron Shiret and Pat Wright decided to have a go again organised by the Newport. They took 33 minutes off the old record in recording 10.2.22. **
On the same day, but on Southern Roads, Alec and Bob were starting at 3 a.m. in an attack on the Blue Riband of Road Records – the RRA London-Brighton & Back. They set a new record in spite of being 10 minutes down at the Brighton turn with 4.46.56 for the 105 miles 1360 yards. What a day for Alec and Bob – what a day for the Redmon. Ron Shiret was itching to have another try at the Purley Eastbourne. Pat Wright wasn’t available so he teamed up with Bob Oldridge. They set up a new record of 4.11.10, a 4min. 10sec beating of the old time. Just to round the ‘Record Year’ off – Keith Jones teamed up with Bob and smashed the old 50 record with a 2.01.30 – it lasted for many years. If you think undue prominence has been given to record breaking, it should be remembered that at this time it was considered the preserve of the ‘big’ clubs – the North Road, Bath Road, etc. It was also considered to be the only ‘pure’ time-trialling. That new boys like the Redmon do it so successfully with all the organisation, etc. that was needed coupled with the long-distance 24 and 12hrs time-trial meant, I think we had arrived as a Cycling Club among our fellow bikes and trikies!
After the bitter start to our 21st year, when riders were thawed out by a huge fire and with hot coffee and rum, the weather had to improve. We waited till the May Club 30 on the same Pompey Rd course. Our field was a mixture of ex-service and still serving National Servicemen. Den Smith, just back from 2 years in the Canal Zone, won with 1.17.9. from another 30 riders. May 27th saw the first 21st ‘Birthday’ celebration event a 95 mile road race. Very well run with some 30 club helpers. Add these to some 30 riders in other events on the day it showed what a lot of racing was being done. We promoted our first ever club 50 again on the Pompey Road. Pat Wright won in 2.11.26. in spite of snapping his handlebars at 20 miles. His extraordinary language matched his extraordinary ride. Ron Shiret was 2nd with 2.12.22. and Club Vice-Captain John Lorkin 3rd.
Looming large for all of us in June was the Catford 24 – the National Championship for the year. It had a full field of 100 riders. We had 3, Pat wright. Ron Shiret, Jim Beard. Also in the field was one Eric Osborn of the Watford. I am not sure but I think we looked after ‘Ossie’ as well. But the reult was worth it when Pat finished in 8th place with 448 miles 596 yds., Ron Shiret with 429 miles 701 yds. Jim Beard 412 miles 1171 yds. Ron was 18th and Jim 31st. Eric did 422m 452 yds 24th place. He doesn’t half eat funny – but that’s another story. Our 3 riders set a new club 24 team record with 1290m. 700yds.
August 7th saw our Birthday Open 30 – the Ron Bensley Memorial. A full card of 120 on a hard day saw John Finnigan our best in 1.14.23 but it was a super promotion. On the same day we had 2 teams riding 12′ s. In the SERC 12 Bob Oldridge set a new trike record in 216+ miles; Mike Sanders did a PB of 233 1/2 miles and Percy Huggett 225 miles. In the Middlesex RC 12 Pat Wright set a new Club record with a 4th place ride of 247 1/2 miles; Ron Shiret did 236 (PB) and Jim Beard 233 1/2 (PB) for 2nd team and a Club record – 715m 1419 yds.
.On the same weekend Dave Collins was invited to ride the National Track Championship 10 (itself an honour). He finished 12th among all the Track heads – and rounded off a great afternoon, with 2nd in the all-riders in Devil.
September saw Brian Hammond on holiday in Scotland – he rode the Mid-Scotland 12 doing 243 miles. Some holiday! Further south on the Bath Road Pat Wright was setting a new 12 record with 253 miles, with Mike Sanders 241 1/4 miles (his nick-name was ‘Soggy’!!) and Jim Beard 233 miles. We didn’t get in the team awards but had a new team record with 727m 800yds. Some racing year when you add a fine track season plus a hatful of Juniors massed-starting on the aerodromes around the south.
Our 21st year culminated with our first President’s Run. Led by President Maurice Hens on a bike, 72 rode to Leatherhead for lunch and a pint (or two). The run is still going though with less on bikes. Another milestone our Treasurer, Ron Allen opened a deposit account and put in £100. We felt rich and not just in monetary terms for it had been some year.
[Sources Alec’s 1988 Mag article, Catford Gazette (Jock Wadley) and Club annals and memories. J.W.]
* * It is worth noting that George Hall (I think with June) drove down to Mid-Wales just to give Ron and Pat a drink and a shout. George, with his 24 and 12 hour rides, always supported any of our long-distances ventures – including riding with the Club group to Cape Wrath when they were training for the first 24.
Previously Printed in the Redmon Review for July 2005, and photos added from the Redmon scrapbook.