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Derrick Woodings - My Cycling Career (Chapter 2)

We hope you enjoyed Chapter 1 of 'Derrick Woodings - My Cycling Career'

Here is the next chapter from Derrick's memoirs:

Chapter 2 - Cycling as a teenager 1950 - 1960

I started cycling at a very young age: In the early 1950’s I was living on an estate on the west side of Derby ring road, isolated from Derby itself. There were many of us young lads who used to go for long rides to Dovedale and the Manifold and Goyt valleys. It was our only means of getting about in those days, none us had access to a car. In modern terms I suppose we would be classed as 'being deprived', but it was all we knew so just got on with life. I was not then in a club and had no racing ambitions and the only cycling event I saw was when the London-Glasgow stage race (forerunner of the Tour of Britain) came through the area in 1952. Eventually a few of us rode regularly at the weekends and so decided to join a club: The Derbyshire Road club and found it very enjoyable riding with experienced cyclists who passed on useful advice about riding in a group and what gearing to use.

During the next few years several of us made long expeditions around the country, touring the Lake District, Wales, the South West plus many other places of interest. We mainly used the YHA and also camped carrying a tent as means of accommodation. Early in 1956 we also rode some club 10’s, I was not particularly outstanding initially and still had no real racing ambition. But nevertheless entered a club 10 on the old Uttoxeter road and afterwards a 25 on the A6 south of Derby and managed to get round. In 1956 after touring the South West I entered another 25 near Lichfield doing a 1:3 ride which was not too bad but I was disappointed as I thought that with all the miles we had ridden on holiday I would have been much fitter and faster. In 1958 I joined the Derby Mercury road club and managed to win their 25 mile championship that year so the racing bug had finally bitten!

In 1959 I was persuaded to join the Derby Wheelers and it was with this club I remained for the rest of my younger amateur career, riding with several talented racers , Roy Jeffries, Bruce Jones, Mick Potts, sadly now deceased and others including my younger brother Graham Woodings. We started to win team classifications in time trials and started to venture out to fast courses mainly in the Nottingham area, which was assisted by me borrowing the company box van to travel further afield, where I finally reduced my 25 time down to 01:00:14.

In 1958 (I was still riding HP touring tyres then) I do remember catching my minuteman in that event and he couldn’t believe the wheels/tyre setup I was using and being able to take a minute out of him. I finally managed to afford a pair of second hand sprints and tubs (real track racing wheels but shod with average road tubs), but initially went back for my first ride using them, but still outside the hour, which was a major benchmark in those days. I had to wait until August 1959 to crack it - 59:32, now on Clement 50 tubs - road racing tyres, on the very fast Grantham- Bottesford course. Then repeating that ride with three more under the hour rides and by the end of the season finally down to 59:10 on the A6 course south of Derby. That set out my cycling ambitions for the next few years - to improve on these figures, and on Christmas Day I rode and won the Christmas Day 10, 1959.

Learning that with some regular training my times had improved, myself and club mates decided to do some proper early season training before the season opened, so from January to March every weekend our Sunday ride was at least 100 miles. Always on a ‘lowish’ 72in. fixed gear, we were indeed using the ‘Fausto Coppi’ method - ride your bike, ride your bike, ride your bike. I have many good memories from the early 60’s riding most of the cycling disciplines with the Derby Wheelers.

Note: This chapter is a summarised account from Derrick's memoirs, Derrick can expand on any of this so if you have any questions, please reply to this post with a comment and Derrick will respond.


Coming up next time: Chapter 3 - Cycling as a competent racer

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Lisa White
Lisa White
Jul 16, 2022

Love This !


Caroline Stoddart
Caroline Stoddart
Jul 15, 2022

Enjoying reading these Derrick

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