Questions & Answers from Alex Hunter
What was the earliest cycling club in Greenock
The two earliest clubs were Greenock Abstainers and Port Glasgow Newark Road Club. As a bike was beyond the means of working men and the clubs were for the professional classes in 1890.
How long was Graham Obree in the Greenock Club
Graeme Obree was only in the Road Club for five months and he was a very complex lad but he spoke about doing 17 minute Tens and doing 38 miles per hour. In those five months he only lost two races and he won the Scottish 10 mile Championships and the ‘50’. He then went south and was second to Chris Boardman in the British ‘25’ which was held on the same day as the Scottish ‘25’. He also broke the ‘10’, ‘25’, and ‘50’ mile Scottish records.
What was your own cycling career like
I started club cycling at the age of 14 when I started work and managed to save £10 to buy a Second hand bike with high pressure wheels and a fixed wheel. I won the Ardgowan Touring Club championships in 1947. In 1948 I fell ill with Ruematich fever and at that time you went Into a wheel chair but I have always been a stubborn person so I got up and in 1949 I started racing mostly 50 and 100 mile events.
The 100 was my best distance and you could ride 6 one hundreds in one year on the West of Scotland and we did’nt have to travel to races, we had to ride to events. I was Greenock Wheelers club champion for a number of years and was second in the District Championships for a number of years. During this time I organised Open and Confined races and district. My racing career lasted till I got married in 1956 and after that I organised week end trips to various youth hostels, some times the club had to split into 3 groups of 10 riders. I have also acted as Time Keeper and Recorder at all levels of cycling.
Who were the old characters when you were racing
Characters like old Charlie McClure and Johnny Coils from whom I learned how to Time Keep. Tommy Walker who still vested us till he died a couple of years ago, all Greenock United.
Also Bobby Corcorran who was the first local rider to ride as Vet. We had District Champions in A.A. Chrighton, Willie Cuthbert, Martin Kelly,Bobby Ross, Willie Murphy and Joe Alan with his club foot. George Borland who did a 1-2 for a District record, he was in the Greenock Victoria CC run by Bill Brown who had a bicycle shop in sugarhouse lane. In my first club we had Jim Norrie, Peter Mackie who came down to the club house with his Collar and tie. The Newark had Peter Fox, Stanley Telford who were both National riders, The late Angus McConachie was Junior and Senior Best all Rounder in the District.
How many local Scottish Champions has Greenock had
Our first Scottish champions were……
John Tuckerman ¼ mile rollers
Billy Cuthbert ½ mile rollers
Jamie McGhanan Scottish Road Race Champion
Paul Tiggerdine Scottish Best All Rounder
Douglas Nicholson Scottish 10 mile Time Trial Champion
Grame Obree Scottish 10 & 50 mile Time Trial Champion
Hugh Jamieson Scottish 10 & Hillclimb Champion
Stuart Daisley Scottish Development Road Race Champion
Robert McCready, Hugh Jamieson, Paul Tiggerdine
Scottish 100 & 12 hour Time Trial Champions & Best All Round Team 2003
How does training and racing differ from when you were racing.
Training in our young days was a case of miles and miles and more miles. In 1954 I did 25000 miles and spent every spare hour I had on the bike. January was the Kilbirnie circuit, Tuesday,Wednesday and Thursday and on Friday night. I went to Maybole to my sisters home Saturday morning and then to the youth hostels with the club. In February and in March , Tuesday ,Wednesday and Thursday’s I went did the Beith circuit then Maybole and Friday and weekends I was with the club.
April started fast work after the spring holiday to Crianlarich , Friday night to Inverness ,Saturday to Dunkeld and Sunday home via Crieff and Callander.
Fast training lasted 2 ½ to 3 hours three nights a week with racing on Sunday’s mostly 50 and 100 miles.
Racing was a lot slower and lots of local rivalry between clubs, most clubs ran Open and Confined races. You could ride along side another rider you did not have to give way when overtaking so a lot of passing and re-passing took place but like today most races were won by the same 10 or so riders.
We paid 12 ½ pence in old money for levy to Scottish, we all got on very well with each other fast or slow it did’nt matter you encouraged a rider you caught and got encouraged by rider who caught you and at the end of the race you met the club and went the club run. Some times round Dunoon after a 50 mike race.
How many cycling clubs has Greenock had.
Greenock has had the following clubs…….
After the war we had the Greenock and District Cycling Association.
Greenock Wheelers CC
Greenock Paragon CC
Greenock Ardgowan Touring Club
Greenock Victoria CC
Greenock United CC
Greenock Banktop CC (a boys home)
Port Glasgow Newark Road Club Green Oak CC
What was you most memorable cycling memory from over the years.
Having competed marshalled and organized races since the late 1940’s. I have seen the Tour de France twice, Tour of Britain, Tour of Scotland, the Isle of Man Week,The Dun Lochaire week in Ireland and the time trials at all distances in Scotland and England .
The most memorable event was watching the riders and helpers in this years (2003) Scottish Twelve Hour Championships it was the highlight of my cycling career.