Cyclists in the First world war – and don’t forget your helmet

I was looking through some photos from World War One. There were quite a few showing soldiers using bicycles. The British army even had a specific bicycle corps.

And I thought Oxford roads were bad at the moment..

Soldiers were given bicycles to help faster troop movement, but it looks this roads was too muddy to cycle on.


These cyclists don’t even seem to be wearing a cycle helmet. Talks about socially irresponsibility! I don’t see many hi viz jersey amongst the platoon either. I don’t know how they managed to avoid being run over by tanks!

And don’t get me on to their position in the middle of the road.

Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but it was too depressing to say anything serious about this cycling ad, which got banned for being socially irresponsible.


Funny or not, around 50% of Premiership sides are sponsored by gambling companies.

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Classic cycling photos

This is another collection of classic time trial photos from the Bernard Thompson collection. I have already published some of these on my last cycling blog, but this is a new collection from the 280 images, and bigger sized (640px) than last blog. I hope you enjoy these insights into the ‘golden era’ of domestic British cycling and time trialling.

Thanks to Peter Whitfield for including this CD of copyright free images in his excellent cycling books – ’12 Champions’ and ‘History of Time trialling’

Beryl Burton start with crowds
Beryl Burton at the start with large crowd.



A familiar scene for early morning Sunday time trials. Time keeper and pusher-off.


A road with no markings, must have been relatively quiet.


A classic shot from the Catford CC hill climb – the oldest cycle race in the world.


At the start of the national 100.


Looks like this rider got a good push from the pusher off. Many people checking watches and looking on.

Time Trial Legends


The 1960s was the peak of the BAR competition with the best timetriallist competing with the best road men.

Alf Engers – the King of the short distance time trial

Alf Engers set a new competition record of 49.24 for 25 mile TT in 1978, before the advent of tri bars and disc wheels. It was the first sub 50 25 mile TT. He had a habit of annoying the establishment, but he was a class act on the bike. Engers was national 25 mile TT champion in 1969 and 1972-1976.

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Cycling in Leeds


Recently I was in Leeds during the rush hour. I took a few photos of cyclists and the basic cycle infrastructure.

Leeds has a fairly low % of residents who cycle once a month. According to the Department of transport just 11% of residents cycle at least once a month. It’s not the lowest rate in the UK, but it lags behind other cities.


Leeds cycle facilities

In the city centre there are some dedicated cycle facilities. It’s not much, but they seemed to be well used during rush hour.


Dedicated cycle pathcyclist-path

A temporary brake in the cycle path. The cyclists I saw used their common sense and were cycling at low speed to avoid any problems with pedestrians. But, it does seem to sum up the patchy cycle lane provision.

Leeds cycling campaign.

The Leeds cycling campaign is working with the city council to try and improve facilities for cyclists and make the city more attractive place for cycling. (Leeds Cycling Campaign)


Proposals for better cycling facilities.  Cycle vision for Leeds

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Views from Burnsall and Wharfedale

It’s the third time in three days, I’ve cycled through Burnsall; with views like this it doesn’t take much encouragement. It was just one of those days where you have to keep pinching yourself to remember it’s the middle of December.


Bolton Abbey


Bolton Abbey Crossroadsclimbing-barden

2 Cyclists climb up the Strid, lower Wharfedale.2-mtbs-wharfedale-2

Looking towards Burnsall

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Hill climb photos

A look at hill climbs through the eyes of a photographer.


‘Hill Climb Agony’. Photo by Bernard Thompson.


The National Championship at Winnats Pass. Spectators throng the side of the road.


The Catford CC Hill Climb. The Catford CC hill climb can make a claim to be the world’ oldest cycle race. The first race was held at Westerham Hill on August 20th 1887. In those days, it was considered an achievement to get to the top without falling off. Riders rode a mixture of ‘safety bicycles’ and penny farthings – all on solid tyres. Of 24 starters, only 12 made it to the top. That’s how the sport of hill climbing began. You could say it was a lot harder in them days.

Pre – race Warming up


It’s a strange sport sometimes. Drive up the M1, to a beautiful part of the Peak District. Spend 1 hour warming up on a turbo and rollers in the carpark. Then kill yourself up a 5 minute hill. But, those five minutes can give such an exhilaration, you keep coming back for more…

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Jack Rossiter and Land’s End to John o’ Groats record of 1929

I came across these wonderful collection of black and white cycling photos, uploaded by Peter Morris, Flickr. The photos are of family members, primarily H.R.Dick Morris and Jack Rossiter.

Jack Rossiter at Land’s End on a tricycle
  • In this newspaper extract, it states Jack Rossiter, broke the Land’s End to John o Groats record, with a time of two days 13 hours 22 minutes. The newspaper goes on to say he is regarded as the greatest cyclist England has ever produced. (See: Opperman’s record attempt)
  • Jack Rossiter broke the record which had stood for 30 years, set by Harry Green in 1907. He rode on a Raleigh bicycle, with a three speed Sturmey Archer. He used a “K” hub, giving variations of 2? per cent. below and 33 1/3 per cent. above normal.
  • A year later he broke the 1,000 miles record, which had also been standing for 21 years, by nearly 4 hours. (See: Sheldon Brown)
  • According to this, Jack Rossiter finished 13th in the 1921 World Championship in Denmark (link)
  • Congleton Cycling Club have the Jack Rossiter Memorial trophy for the most improved rider.


Jack Rossiter in the North Road 24, 1928. The caption under the image stated 408 miles, second!


Jack Rossiter with support crew.


Before the days of proper bike racks.

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