|The Rolling Stones, Melody Maker and Cycling|
FUNNY, how amusing moments can stick in the mind, some of them from way back.
I’m writing about some of them instead of a story about how cyclists and pedestrians have been barred from using the Humber Bridge because of suicides there. When I started writing that story up it made such uncomfortable reading I binned it.
Instead, a few funny things, not all of them cycling related.
“On the left”…. Trevor Bull’s shouted command in a British pro road race sprint finish in the 1970s cost Phil Bayton the win – because he obeyed and moved over!
The affable Bayton (known as the “Staffordshire Engine” and hard to beat) laughed fit to burst that he should fall for that one.
Phil Liggett, the cycling TV commentator when a humble staff man on Cycling magazine in the 70s relieving the boredom of subbing the racing results and keeping the rest of us entertained by calling every rider by the first name of Harry.
Ken, the genial post room clerk in an engineering firm I briefly worked for, doing virtually the same thing, coincidentally also calling out aloud “Harry” - instead of the real name on each envelope as he popped them in their various pigeon holes.
And for good measure, listening to an imaginary conversation going on around him by occasionally calling out “Oh yeah”, as if in agreement with what was being said.
The Dog. This was the moniker given Merseyside pro Geoff Dutton on training runs, whose call “coming through” – sounded more like a gruff bark.
Egg. This was Terry Dolan, now a reputed frame builder to the stars, who I recall rushing around the deck on the overnight Isle of Man ferry, snatching cushions from under the heads of sleeping passengers. No idea why Terry was called Egg.
“Can’t stop there…” Liggett winding up his companions by refusing to pull over for a café stop when driving ahead of the Tour de France – if the café was on the wrong side of the road, only to relent after howls of protest. Can't recall which side was "wrong".
“What you doin’ down there, Hardi’?”…Former national road race champion Pete Matthews to his Liverpool Mercury club mate Keith Hardiman who was sliding by on the road, still fastened to his pedals. Hardy had been the first to fall on a greasy bend in the Circuit of Ashurst, the Merseyside season-opener.
Many others skidded and fell that day, including yours truly in the exalted company of Tour of Poland stage winner Billy Perkins. That was my claim to fame and it earned me a pint from a club mate at the Jazz Club that night.
“Good morning, my English friend, have you had your bacon, eggs and fried bread…” a French pro’s greeting to Tony Hewson, the new boy to Continental professional road racing during in 1950s, recalled in his splendid book “In Pursuit of Stardom”.
The Tour of Sweden pro-am 1984: Peugeot’s Sean Yates distracting the Dutch amateur team from setting a furious pace – by whistling as he sat on their rear wheels.
Also on that same Tour of Sweden, Peugeot’s Allan Peiper chasing down an amateur who had attacked through the feeding station. Having got alongside him, Peiper thrust a ham sandwich into the trouble makers face, shouting, “Eat you stupid sod, eat – or you’ll never last the week.”
Assistant Editor Sid Saltmarsh, arriving at Cycling’s offices each the morning irritated by a question from a colleague before he’d barely got in the door… “OK, OK… let me get my coat off.”
Sid tapping his fingers on the window pane of the office partition with music paper Melody Maker, calling out “two minutes”: his time limit for turning down the volume on the racket from a Rolling Stones album. And when they didn’t, shouting: “Oh, for FUCK’s SAKE!