THE BIDLAKE AWARD-WINNERS: A
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The roll-call of names who have been given
the Bidlake award presents a summary of the history of cycle-sport
in Britain from 1934 to the present. Almost all the biggest names in
the sport have been given this honour – but a few have not, and as
we look back over the history of the award, it’s worth asking why
some people missed out. It has always to be remembered that an award
like this is, in the last analysis, a subjective judgement made by a
small group of men. It is not a clear-cut, objective achievement, as
the winning of a championship or the breaking of a record is. The
other controlling factor is that there is only one award per year,
so again achievements that may be outstanding are still in danger of
being overshadowed by others.
Hubert Opperman. There can be no doubt that most people
in British cycling expected that the first Bidlake award would go to
the rider who had dominated the sport for the past ten years, Frank
Southall. In 1934 Southall was riding for Hercules as a professional
record-breaker and he had enjoyed a great season, setting seven new
RRA records, including the first-ever 100 inside four hours. The
Bidlake award would have crowned his position as the undoubted king
of British cycling. But there was a lion in his path in the form of
Hubert Opperman, who had been brought over from Australia by BSA to
challenge Hercules and Southall. “Oppy” as he was known, rewarded
them by performing one great feat that Southall did not and probably
could not: he took the End-to-End record, slicing more than four
hours from Jack Rossiter’s 1929 figures. It was a magnificent ride,
after which Oppy went on for the 1000-mile record too, and the
Bidlake committee took the courageous decision to honour him over
Southall. So it was that the award went in its first year to a
professional rather than an amateur, and to an overseas figure,
something that would not happen again for a long, long time.
Frank Southall. Perhaps the Bidlake committee had
calculated that there was more to come from the great Frank
Southall, and that they would be able to honour him in 1935, and
this is exactly what happened, but it was a close-run thing.
Opperman returned to England, this time with two compatriots, Stuart
and Milliken, and the trio proceeded to wipe out many of Southall’s
records from the previous year. Although only 30 years old, Southall
seemed to have just passed his peak, for he tried to recapture these
records but failed, until at last by a supreme effort he sliced just
under a minute from Milliken’s London-Brighton-London record. This
was the last record-breaking ride of his glittering career, and it
was enough to win him the Bidlake, but it had been a tense summer
for Southall and his sponsors at Hercules. Although he received the
award for his Brighton record, there is not much doubt that he was
being honoured for his unrivalled string of victories and records
over almost ten years.
1936. Edward Southcott.
This was the first award for services to cycling rather
than racing, and the recipient was Edward Southcott, for his
services to the British cycling team that went to the Berlin
Olympics. There was something very strange about this award, for it
was never explained in public exactly what Southcott had done, but a
number of people knew the truth and eventually it leaked out.
Apparently when the track team unpacked their equipment, they found
that virtually every one of their racing tubs was faulty and could
not be used. Southcott, who was President of the Catford CC, was in
Berlin as part of the judging panel. He was immediately dispatched
back to England to buy a new consignment of tubs and return as fast
as he could to save the situation. This was a remarkable adventure,
but one has to wonder if it was worthy of a Bidlake Prize. And why
were the Trust so coy about it, why could the truth not be told?
Britain’s only real success at the Games was a bronze medal on the
track in the team pursuit, where the fours riders were Hill,
Johnson, Mills and King. In the road race, Charlie Holland was
Syd Ferris. For the second time in three years, the
End-to-End record-breaker captured the Bidlake award: Syd Ferris
took two and a half hours from Opperman’s time. Oppy was a popular
character in Britain, but no doubt there was a sigh of satisfaction
that this supreme record had been recaptured by a home rider. Ferris
also took the 1000-mile record, bringing it inside three days for
the first time. Ferris rode as a professional for Sturmey-Archer,
and, as well as being a vegetarian, he was a distinctive figure,
with an eye-patch over his left eye, having lost its sight during
childhood. Ferris had won three consecutive North Road 24’s in 1932,
1933 and 1934. He warmed up for his End-to-End ride by winning the
Catford 24 and taking the Edinburgh-London record. In 1938 Ferris
engaged in an extraordinary RRA 24-hour duel with Cyril Hepplestone,
which was so close that the true result was only established a year
afterwards, Ferris coming out the winner with 465.75 miles.
1938. Frank Urry
was honoured for defending the interests of cyclists on the
Transport Advisory Council, a governmental body which was attempting
to get to grips with road traffic management and road safety. Urry
was one of the top-ranking officials who served on many committees,
and one of cycling’s establishment, and it is slightly surprising
that Shake Earnshaw was not preferred, for the brilliant
record-breaking rides that gave him his clear victory in the BAR
competition this year.
Marguerite Wilson. At the end of 1938 the rules of
the Bidlake award were amended to make it clear that women were eligible
for the award. This was probably no accident, for Marguerite Wilson
had just turned professional for Hercules, being managed by
Frank Southall, and during 1939 she proceeded to re-write the record
books of the Women’s RRA, breaking no less than eleven records. The
award was made specifically for her End-to-End and 1000-mile rides.
These became something of a legend because she started on the very
last day of peace and finishing with the country at war, thus she
“rode the black-out in.” Marguerite, aged only 22 at the time, was
the “blond bombshell” of English cycling, attractive and vivacious,
petite but immensely strong. She would break more records the
following year, before wartime restrictions ended her career
1940. There was
no award. The war had disrupted not only racing but normal life to
such an extent that no decision on a winner could realistically be
made. One casualty of the war was the plaques themselves: their
manufacture was banned by the Board of Trade, and photographs had to
be given, the plaque itself to be awarded later.
1941. Arthur Gillott.
The very limited wartime racing programme made it natural
to look at the field of services to cycling, and the award was
presented to Arthur Gillott, bicycle retailer and founder of the
Institute of Cycle Traders and Repairers, which aimed to introduce
professional standards into the cycle trade.
|In 1942 there was no award.
1943. George Herbert Stancer.
It was another establishment figure who took the award:
G.H.Stancer was regarded as the elder statesman of
British cycling, the position that Bidlake himself had held until
his death. He was the editor of Cycling magazine from 1910 to
1920, the Secretary of the CTC from 1920 onwards, and President of
the Road Records Association from 1936. He was also Chairman of the
Bidlake Trust itself, and one may wonder if the committee wasn’t
showing a certain lack of imagination in bestowing this honour on
its own Chairman. Stancer differed from Bidlake in that he had never
been a great racing man himself. He did however actively support
women’s entry into racing, which Bidlake certainly did not.
This year’s award was to a man whose contribution to cycling was
truly unique, yet in a way detached from it. Frank Patterson
was superb graphic artist, whose drawings of cycling subjects had
appeared in Cycling magazine for 50 years or more. His
pictures showed racing and touring cyclists against the background
of Britain’s countryside: the open road, wooded hillsides,
delightful villages, picturesque old inns and tea-shops, rivers
flowing under ancient bridges, summer sunshine, rainstorms and
snow-scenes. His work presented an idyllic picture of Britain which
was unrealistic in that it was so selective, but it inspired
thousands of urban cyclists to explore the countryside, looking for
scenes like those which he drew. Patterson himself was a strange,
reclusive man, who was certainly not an active cyclist himself,
except in his younger days, but his work was much-loved and
inspirational through two generations.
|1945. There was no award.
1946. Albert Derbyshire.
It took a surprisingly long time for a BAR champion to be
given the Bidlake. The competition had been founded in 1930, but it
was 1946 before Derbyshire was honoured by the Bidlake
committee. Derbyshire had already won a slimmed-down version of the
competition run in 1944, but in 1945 Jock Allison won the first full
post-war edition. Since he was the first Scotsman (and still the
only one) ever to win it, and was only twenty years old, this young
coal-miner might perhaps have been given the Bidlake in 1945, but he
was not. However in 1946 Derbyshire’s superiority in time-trialling
was complete: he won three national championships and the BBAR, and
broke competition records in the 50 and the 100. He would take the
BBAR title again in 1947.
When Reg Harris won the World Amateur Sprint title in
Paris, British cycling was thrilled to have a British world champion
at last, the first since 1922. Harris would soon go on to become
still more celebrated, and a household name in this country.
Throughout the 1950s, any cyclist moving at speed on the roads of
Britain was likely to hear calls of, “Who do you think you are, Reg
Harris?” He was seen as a near-certainty for an Olympic gold in
London in 1948, but finished with the silver medal, following
injuries in a car crash just before the Games. Eight years
before his great World’s triumph, Harris and his team-mates had been
called home from the disrupted World Championships in Milan in
August 1939, on the eve of the war; and then, like so many of his
generation, he lost the war years, during which he was seriously
wounded into the bargain.
Gordon Basham of the Wessex RC was given his award for
his victory in the first-ever National 24-hour Championship, in which
he set a magnificent new competition record of 454.37 miles, adding
almost 10 miles to the previous figures. Appropriately the event was
the historic North Road 24. Basham was notable for drinking several
pints of beer during his ride, but he emphasised it was mild beer;
nevertheless in this race, run on a very hot day, he is said to have
consumed no less than ten pints!
Reg Harris was the first person
to be given two Bidlake awards. He had turned professional after the
London Olympics, and in his first pro season he added the
professional world title to his amateur one. He would add three more
pro world titles during his career, and his many battles against van
Vliet, Derksen, Plattner and Maspes made him into one of the gods of
the track. These men were the supreme gladiators in a realm of
cycling utterly remote from the ordinary club rider. In terms of
sheer speed Harris was virtually unbeatable, but he was less happy
with tactical three- and four-up matches, otherwise he might have
won even more. His long partnership with Raleigh made his victories
a double triumph for British cycling.
Eileen Sheridan was the great star of post-war women’s
cycling, taking the women’s BAR in 1949 and 1950, and numerous
records and national championships on the way. She was an obvious
choice for the Bidlake, but had she not won it in 1950 she would
certainly have got it later, for she rode as a professional for
Hercules from 1952 to 1954 and broke every single women’s RRA record
in the book, breaking those Marguerite Wilson had set up. Possessed
of immense natural stamina, she seemed fired by the sheer physical
joy of cycling, and was never photographed without a smile on her
face, even during her most demanding rides. Managed by Frank
Southall, she was a brilliant public ambassador for the sport. It is
possible that, had Cyril Peacock not won his World Championship, she
might have been given a second Bidlake in 1954.
Ken Joy’s career ran parallel
with Eileen Sheridan. He won the BBAR competition four times in
succession from 1949-52, the first man since Southall to win it more
than once. Like Eileen he won multiple national championships and
set multiple records, then he too turned pro for Hercules under
Southall’s management, and set many RRA records. Outstanding among
these was his Liverpool-London, finishing inside 8 hours for the
more than 200 miles, figures which still stand today. But Ken always
said that he never really enjoyed the solitary life of the
professional record-chaser, missing the camaraderie of amateur
time-trialling. Under the rules of that time, when his years with
Hercules were over there was no way back into the amateur ranks, and
he never raced again after his thirty-second year.
Keith Bentley: to win a national championship and break
competition record at the same time is surely every time-triallist’s
dream, and this is what is Keith Bentley did, not once but twice in
succession, and won the Bidlake for his efforts. In 1951 he won the
title in 1:58:29, and in 1952 he improved to 1:57:46, both rides on
an 84-inch fixed gear. Bentley was a London-based Yorkshireman,
stood well over six feet tall, and sported heavy horn-rimmed
spectacles. The 50 was evidently his specialist distance, for in
1952 he put up four of the five fastest times of the year, and just
one week after the championship, he took another minute from his own
record, leaving it on 1:56:44. How many time-triallists have broken
a competition record twice in eight days ?
1953. John Arnold.
The National 24-hour championship this year witnessed one of the
most remarkable results ever seen, when Phil Carter won the event by
just two miles from Arnold, riding a trike. Arnold’s figures
of 457.33 added a staggering 35 miles to the existing trike record
of the time. At various times Arnold also set new trike
competition records at 50 and 100 miles and at 12 hours. In 1954
Arnold would team up with Albert Crimes to set an End-to-End record
on the tandem trike which may perhaps never be beaten. Sadly his
serious cycling career was virtually ended in 1956 by a rheumatoid
condition in his feet. However, in 1962-63 it improved sufficiently
for him to return to the sport and to win the North Road 24 – on two
wheels – and then to break the RRA York-Edinburgh trike record,
marking the end of his racing days.
Cyril Peacock won the World Amateur Sprint Championship
in Cologne, and after turning professional for Raleigh he was
inevitably seen as the next Reg Harris. However, Peacock failed to
score a single significant victory, and retired two years later, a
World Champion who is remembered, ironically, as a failure because
nothing comparable followed his great victory. Perhaps his worst
moment came in the World Championships of 1957 when he had beaten
the French rider Gaignard twice, but in an incomprehensible judges’
decision, he was ordered to re-run; he refused on principle, was
eliminated, and quitted the sport soon afterwards.
Norman Sheil. The 1950s were great days for British
pursuiting, and no one went higher than Sheil, who won the world
amateur title on the famous Vigorelli track at Milan. It is
sometimes forgotten that the final was an all-British affair, with
Pete Brotherton taking the silver medal. In the following year,
Sheil lost his way a little, but came back for a second world title
in 1958. He was also a double gold medallist at the Commonwealth
Games - in 1954 and 1958, and had been national champion and
competition record-holder at 25 miles. Sheil later became the first
national coach employed by the BCF: he was a shrewd and occasionally
a tough man to deal with, and once when a rider requested the aid of
a training manual, Sheil handed him a Bible !
Ray Booty. If ever a man was a stone-cold certainty for
the Bidlake it was Booty in 1956, when he achieved the magic
landmark of time-trialling, the first sub-four-hour 100, with his
3:58:28 in the classic Bath Road event in August. A few weeks later
he set what seemed an incredible straight-out 100 record of 3:28:40,
which stood for 35 years, partly because no one had the audacity to
attack it. He won five successive 100 championships and five 12
championships, as well as being on his day an unbeatable roadman,
with the 1958 Commonwealth Games gold medal to his credit. Modest,
humorous, relaxed, but for many years invincible, Booty was a unique
figure in British time-trialling, a giant of the sport.
Albert Crimes was the greatest trike-man in Britain –
except for John Arnold. But Arnold was forced out of the sport
through injury soon after he and Crimes had set their legendary
End-to-End record together. Crimes continued as a solo rider, and in
this year he set a new End-to-End solo trike record. It was for this
that he was awarded the Bidlake Plaque, and the presentation took
place in the celebrated Mount Pleasant café in Goostrey. He had not
scheduled to go on for the 1000, but in the following year he took
that record too, the climax of a great career. He took a massive
fourteen hours from the old figures, but his near-three-day ordeal
took a tremendous toll, and his son John remembers being to taken to
see his father at the end, and beholding an almost unrecognisable
figure, semi-conscious with exhaustion and with blood trickling from
a nose-bleed. Albert Crimes died in 1985, survived by more than 25
years by his great fellow-rider John Arnold.
|1958. Reginald C. Shaw was the
founder of the National Safe Cycling Scheme for training child
cyclists. In the 1950s children in their thousands used bicycles on
the public roads in a way that they no longer seem to do, and Shaw’s
scheme helped to raise awareness of their safety. He had already
been given the MBE for his work.
Beryl Burton had already arrived as a multiple national
champion in 1958 at the age of only 21. In 1959 she repeated her
success in home competition, but she went much further in taking the
pursuit title in the women’s World Championships. As a child Beryl
had suffered a long crippling illness, from which she emerged with a
fierce determination to excel in some way, and it was cycling that
became the great passion of her life, and the stage on which she
played a unique and dominant role.
Beryl Burton’s unique ability took her to even greater
heights, giving her a double victory in the women’s World Championships, in
the pursuit again and in the road race. Once again she made a clean
sweep of the domestic competitions, and fully justified an
unprecedented second consecutive Bidlake award. But in 1960 no one
could possibly have foreseen that these victories were only the
beginning of a brilliant career which would last for a quarter of a
1961. Eileen Gray
was one of the pioneers of women’s racing in the 1950s, and
president of the Women’s Cycle Racing Association. She led the
campaign to set up a women’s World Championship series, which was
finally accepted by the U.C.I. in 1958. The championships came to
Britain in 1961, but this time Beryl lost her pursuit crown by one
tenth of a second.
Frank Colden gave British time-trialling one of its most
exciting seasons ever, when he won the BBAR crown with new
competition records at 50 and 100 miles, then crashed in the 12, and
had to ride again a fortnight later to take the title. His 100 on
the Bath Road became legendary, as he took four minutes from Booty's
record, with 3:54:23, to become only the second man in the
sub-four-hour club. However, following this great season, he slipped
out of the sport, having gone as far as he believed possible with
new standards of speed, and the sacrifices necessary to achieve
them. He had trained with such intensity and had set such
outstanding new records that there seemed to be nowhere further to
go, and he never raced again after 1962.
|1963. Leslie C. Carter
the award for his work in devising the National Schoolboys
Championship, which culminated in an entry of nearly 2000 riders in
Alex Moulton had revolutionised bike design the previous
year with his new concept of the small-wheeled bicycle with its
suspension frame. This was the first entirely new approach to
bike-building since the safety bike replaced the penny-farthing in
the late 1880s. The Moulton was smart, compact, new and neat, ideal
for the mood of the sixties and it provided a huge surge of renewed
interest in cycling. The new bike was launched in the winter of
1962, and it was given a great publicity boost when John Woodburn
broke the RRA Cardiff-London record on a drop-handlebar version,
proving the soundness of the design.
Tom Simpson was, like Ray Booty in 1956, a certainty for
the Bidlake, having become the first-ever British rider to win the
World Professional Road Race Championship when he outsprinted the
formidable Rudi Altig at Lasarte, Spain. He had already won
Bordeaux-Paris, the Tour of Flanders and Milan-San Remo, and held
the yellow jersey in the Tour de France. He was easily the biggest
name in British cycling, the first ever to reach the top in the
elite world of European pro road- racing.
was one of the best amateur roadmen in the country, having won
the Milk Race in 1964, but in 1966 he did something unique, first
winning the National Amateur Road Race Championship, then adding the
BBAR title to his record, winning it with three straight rides in
two successive weekends in September. He did it to prove a point,
that a good roadman could beat the time-triallists at their own
game; but whether that is really true or not is still debatable,
since no one has ever repeated Metcalfe’s double victory. Less than
a year after his BBAR-winning rides, Metcalfe was riding and
finishing the Tour de France.
Beryl Burton was awarded an unprecedented third Bidlake
trophy, for her runaway victory in the women’s World Road Race
Championship, and for her 12-hour time-trial record of 277.5 miles,
which also exceeded the men’s record – the first time such a thing
had ever happened. No one could possibly dispute Beryl’s unique
brilliance and dedication, but given that she had won two Bidlakes
already, this was a slightly controversial award. In 1967, Graham
Webb had won the men’s World Amateur Road Race Championship, while
Les West had won his second Milk Race, and either of them had a
strong claim on the Bidlake. Since there can only be one award per
year, it is clear that in certain years some outstanding
performances may still miss out on the award.
Hugh Porter continued the run of British track successes
at World Championship level, when he took the World Professional
Pursuit title in Rome, the first of the four titles which he would
win, an unequalled record. He had been national pursuit champion
many times and had taken the gold medal in the 1968 Commonwealth
Games in Jamaica. His pursuiting trademark was a relatively slow
start and a storming finish, so that the professional distance of
5000 metres suited him better than the amateur 4000 metres. Porter’s
expressive Black-country voice later became well known as a cycling
commentator both at live track-meetings and on television.
1969. Roy Cromack brought the Bidlake back to time-trialling when he cracked the
toughest of the long-distance barriers, the 500-mile 24-hour ride.
He reached 507 miles in a brilliantly planned and controlled ride,
which was all the more remarkable for being the only 24 he ever rode
in his life. A special commemorative medal had been offered for the
first rider to go over the 500 mile mark, and among those keen to
take it was Beryl Burton. Beryl started at a furious pace, going
through the whole field, but Cromack bided his time, stuck to his
schedule, and re-caught her. It was one of the most celebrated
24-hour races of all time, and Cromack’s record stood for 28 years.
was recognised for his work as organiser-director of the World
Championships in Leicester. Foster was an ebullient character, a
massive egoist, a man who knew everyone and everything in the
cycling world, and he certainly wasn’t a universal favourite, but he
stood out among “the blazer brigade” as a bundle of energy and
someone who undoubtedly made things happen in the world of British
Les West. It’s a strange fact that no Milk Race winner
was ever awarded the Bidlake. Bill Bradley won the race twice in
succession, and Les West won in 1965 and 1967, but neither of them
was chosen. Perhaps the committee felt that they had missed a trick
here, for West was given the prize in 1971, nominally for his RRA
London-Portsmouth record, but probably in reality for his string of
major road-race victories over many years. West’s pedigree was
unique among the roadmen of his time: he was twice national amateur
road-race champion and twice the professional champion, and he
claimed victory in all the classic British one-day races. He
narrowly missed the gold medal in the 1966 amateur World
Championship, and placed fourth in the professional World’s in 1970.
Eric Tremaine set a new 24-hour trike record of 457.89
miles, at last up-dating John Arnold’s 19-year-old time. It’s worth
remembering however, that Tremaine added just half a mile to
Arnold’s figures, for a record which still stands today. Ten years
later, in 1982, Tremaine would take the End-to-End trike record too.
1973. William H.Townsend
an outstanding administrator in cycle sport for two decades as
Chairman of the RTTC. In the late 1950s the government of the day
was drafting new road traffic legislation, and it was thanks to Will
Townsend’s representations that time-trialling, although taking
place on public roads, was able to keep its special position outside
police control, with no official permission required to stage one.
|1974. There was no award.
Phil Griffiths had showed himself to be the dominant
time-triallist of the 1970s at the BAR distances, by taking three
BAR titles, two of them in succession, and it was for this that he
won his Bidlake award. He would win two more BBAR titles, as well as
many National Championships, and break many RTTC and RRA records.
Also among the leading roadmen of his time, he founded one of the
first-ever sponsored clubs, GS Strada, and was a brilliant organiser
and inspirational figure for many other riders. He would later
devote his talents to building up a hugely successful bike business.
|1976. Ron White was given the award
for his efforts over many years to have a cycle track built in
Harlow, Essex. This became a reality and was opened in 1976.
|1977. Arthur Campbell
was one of
the sport’s senior administrators, President of the Scottish
Cyclists Union and of the of the British Cycling Federation. He was
appointed chairman of the UCI’s technical commission in 1977. In the
1940s Campbell had raced as a roadman in the pioneer days of the BLRC.
|1978. Leslie C.Warner
award for his dedicated work over several decades in the interests
of cyclists and in defence of their rights.
Paul Carbutt received his Bidlake for his End-to-End
record, a courageous ride, during which he collapsed, virtually
unconscious with heat exhaustion, but pulled himself round to finish
in 1:23:23. Carbutt was one of the best all-round cyclists of his
generation: he had been BBAR champion in 1977, and a highly-placed
Milk Race rider, after which he turned professional for Viking.
Carbutt died tragically young in 2004 from the incurable motor
Tony Doyle won the World Professional Pursuit
Championship at Besancon. The story of his victory had a dramatic
background, for he had travelled to the Moscow Olympics one month
earlier, but was not selected to ride the individual pursuit,
despite being British National Champion at this discipline. He made
his feelings clear by immediately turning professional and taking
the world title. Doyle would go on to become the most successful
British rider ever in the International Six-Day circuit, and won his
second world pursuit title in 1986.
A giant of time-trialling in the mould of Southall and Booty,
Cammish won the 100 championship in a competition-record time, and
also put up the six fastest 100 times of the year. He would go on to
many more championship victories and even faster records, becoming
one of those riders who have been given the Bidlake award before
they achieved their greatest feats. His 100 and 50 records lasted
for a decade and were only broken when the era of aerodynamic bikes
arrived in the 1990s, while his RRA straight-out 100 record of
3:11:11 seems invincible. Cammish was perhaps the last of the great
time-trial champions to do everything on his own – no coaching, no
science, just ambition, dedication and pure talent.
Mandy Jones won an outstanding solo victory in the
Women’s World Championship road-race at Goodwood, at the age of only
twenty, when she finished alone ahead of the field. So young was she
that it’s easy to forget that she had already won a World’s bronze
medal two years before in the road race at Sallanches. She never
repeated this big international victory, but as a time-triallist and
road-racer, her consistent successes really marked the opening of
the new post-Beryl Burton era: between 1982 and 1987 Mandy was
three times champion at 10 miles, three times champion at 25 miles,
and twice champion at 50 miles.
Alan Rushton made a huge impact on the public perception
of bike-racing when he organised his series of city-centre
criteriums, contested by the country’s leading professionals, and
had them broadcast on television.
|1984. There was no award.
In this year Woodburn won the VTTA BAR title for the
third time, but his award was probably in recognition of his many
years of outstanding time-trialling achievements, from the National
25-mile Championship back in 1961, to his End-to-End record in 1982.
Woodburn was the original super-vet, the first rider ever to win the
BBAR as a veteran, which he achieved in 1978. He would continue to
win age-related awards until 2013, in a racing career that spanned
some sixty years.
1986. Jeremy Isaacs
was the head of
Channel Four television who inaugurated a new era in the public face
of cycling when he televised the Tour de France, which has remained
a summer TV fixture ever since.
1987. There was no award.
1988. Ivy Thorp, President of the
Cyclists’ Touring Club, for her dedicated work for the welfare of
cyclists at local and national level.
Colin Sturgess, for his victory in the World Professional
Pursuit Championship in Lyon, at the age of twenty. Sturgess was a
youthful phenomenon with ten years’ racing under his belt, who had
beaten Chris Boardman for the amateur title before turning
professional, and who had also taken the silver medal in the
Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1986 at eighteen years old. The
man who took the gold then, Australian Dean Woods, was Sturgess’s
victim in the World’s final. Well ahead in the closing stages of the
race, Woods was overwhelmed by the dramatic late burst of speed with
which Sturgess seized the title by more than a second. It is amazing
to recall that in 1988 Boardman commented that he knew he had no
chance of beating Sturgess in the pursuit.
Pete Longbottom was a top all-round roadman, whose award
was given for multiple time-trial achievements in this year: he won
the National 100-mile Championship, set a new RRA 50 record of
1:30:14, and broke the national 25-mile record, becoming the second
man ever inside 50 minutes, a full twelve years after Alf Engers,
and this was just before the aerodynamic revolution which hit
time-trialling in the following year. In 1998 Longbottom was
tragically killed on his bike while training.
Glenn Longland broke a classic time-trial barrier which
many had thought impossible, becoming the first man to top 300 miles
for the 12-hour, ridden without a speedo. This great ride helped to
give him the BBAR title for this year. Longland was a prolific winner of
12s, having won his favourite and local event the Poole Wheelers, a
dozen times. It seemed that Longland was the man who might finally
crack Cromack’s 24-hour record, but although he did win the 24
Championship in 2004, he was off the record pace.
Chris Boardman. Boardman won the Olympic Pursuit title in
Barcelona with a sensational ride on his revolutionary Lotus bike in
which he caught and eliminated his opponent, Jens Lehmann. This was
Britain’s first individual Olympic cycling gold medal since 1908.
Boardman had been the dominant short-distance time-triallist in
Britain, winning the 25 championship four times in succession, but
no one could have predicated that his career would go sky-high. After the
Olympics he would break the World Hour Record and win three Tour de
France prologues. His brilliant career was probably the most
influential ever seen in British cycling, raising the profile of
bike-racing to a new level of public awareness.
Graeme Obree. Exactly contemporary with Boardman, Obree
also broke the World Hour Record. He defeated Boardman for the World
Pursuit Championship, while in domestic competition, set new
time-trial records at 10 miles and 50 miles, the last time records
were set on a fixed wheel. Obree was a self-taught individual
genius, who rode a bike of his own unique design, riding with the
arms tucked under the shoulders. When this was outlawed by the UCI,
he invented the extreme Superman position, until that too was
Sean Yates held the yellow jersey in the Tour de France
this year, the culmination of his long and successful career of
professional racing on the continent. Yates had been among the early
1980s exodus to France, with Millar, Sherwen, Jones and Herety, and
he turned pro for Peugeot in 1982. In the 1988 Tour de France he won a
sensational time-trial stage at a record speed, and he also took a
stage in the Vuelta. He retired from pro racing in 1996, but won the
National 50 Championship the following year.
Ron Kitching was a highly successful bike-dealer, known
as “Mr.Everything Cycling,” who used his wealth to encourage and
promote many aspects of the sport. In 1995 he sponsored the 50-mile
time-trial that marked the centenary of the sport founded by Bidlake
himself in 1895. Before devoting himself to business, Kitching’s
roots went back to the time-trialling and early road-racing days of
Andy Wilkinson took the BBAR title in the most convincing
style ever seen, setting new competition records at all three
distances, as well as winning National Championships at 100 miles
and 12 hours. At this date he was also the End-to-End record holder.
A maverick genius who was in and out of the sport over the years,
Wilko would later take the 12-hour and 24-hour records to new and
Johnny Helms was the second artist, after Frank
Patterson, to be given the Bidlake award. Helms’s delightful
cartoons had appeared in Cycling Weekly for over fifty years,
and had become part of the mental landscape of every British
cyclist. The antics and humiliations of his anti-heroes, Baz and
Honk, expressed the eternal frustrations and the rare triumphs of
the common man-on-a-bike. Not a pure artist as Frank Patterson was,
Helms was an active cyclist all his life, and his cartoons told
vivid and whimsical stories drawn from the cyclist’s life.
David Duffield had become the most famous and best-loved
television cycling commentator, for his ability to spin an endless
story through hours of racing. From the late 50s to the early 70s,
Duffield had been a trike record-breaker, with two End-to-End
records to his credit, and in the first in 1957 he departed
radically from tradition by riding from North to South, the only
successful attempt in that direction.
Kevin Dawson won his fifth BBAR title in this year, and
took the silver medal in the National Road Race Championship – thus
coming closer than anyone else to repeating Arthur Metcalfe’s feat
of 1966. Dawson would go on to become all-time king of the BBAR with
eleven victories. At the time of writing Dawson is still the current
100-mile record holder with his 3:22:45, achieved in a victory in
the apparently invincible Michael Hutchinson. His one disappointment
was that he never quite reached the 300-mile 12.
Yvonne McGregor was one of Britain’s most successful
ever women racers. In this year she won the pursuit bronze medal at
the Olympic Games in Sydney, and took gold in the same event at the
World Track Championships. In domestic competition she took multiple
national championships at 10, 25 and 50 miles, and set new
competition records at all three distances. In 1995 on the
Manchester track she set a new women’s world hour record. She was
awarded the MBE in 2002.
Nicole Cooke. The only junior ever to be awarded the
Bidlake, no one could ever have done more to deserve it. Nicole won
three Junior World Championship gold medals – the time-trial, the
road race, and the mountain bike race, having previously won the
road-race in 2000. The highlight of her career would come in the
2008 Olympics when she won the road-race in such a thrilling
fashion. She also won the women’s Tour de France two years running.
Keith Butler is the founder and moving spirit behind the
Surrey Cycle Racing League, which for over twenty years has
organised a full programme of road-racing, especially at grass roots
level. As a racing man back in the 1960s, Keith achieved the rare
distinction of winning both amateur and professional national
road-race championships, two years apart.
|2003. There was no award.
The chosen winner was David Millar,
but when the news broke that he had taken performance-enhancing
drugs, the award was cancelled.
Ron Webb, for his work as designer and builder of more
than sixty indoor racing tracks worldwide, including Manchester. The
latter played a key role in the development of top-level British
track performance, seen at the successive Olympics in Sydney 2000,
Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. He was the natural choice to build the
London 2012 Olympic velodrome. Webb, himself a former trackman, was
the second Australian to be given the award, exactly seventy years
after Hubert Opperman.
Michael Hutchinson was the most consistently successful
time-triallist of the years 2000-2012. In 2005 he achieved
unprecedented dominance with victories in five National
Championships from 10 miles to 12 hours, plus the BBAR title. His
total tally of championship gold medals is greater than that of any
other time-triallist except Beryl Burton, and his string of thirteen
consecutive 50 Championships from 2000 to 2012 is unlikely ever to
Gethin Butler was given his award officially for his
victory on this year’s National Time-Trial Series. But this was
probably another retrospective award, recognising his two BBAR
titles from 1994 and 1995, his many National Championship victories
at 100 miles, 12 hours and 24 hours, and his superb End-to-End and
1000-mile record rides in 2001, where he is the current
record-holder. Gethin comes from one of the most distinguished
cycling families in Britain, being the son of Keith and the grandson
of Stan Butler. Keith and Gethin Butler are the only father and son
winners of the Bidlake Prize.
2007. Peter King
was rewarded for his management and leadership skills in reviving
the fortunes of the B.C.F., now British Cycling, over the past
2008. Dave Brailsford CBE,
role as Performance Director of British Cycling, in leading the
Great Britain team to unprecedented success at world level on road
Julia Shaw was the dominant figure in women’s
time-trialling from 2006–2012. In 2009 she won the women’s BBAR at a
record average speed of 27.451 mph, taking four national
championships and breaking two competition records, records which
she subsequently improved. Her current 50-mile record stands at
1:46:46, and the 100 at 3:45:22. In the 2010 Commonwealth Games in
Delhi she won the bronze medal in the women’s time trial, only 10
seconds behind the gold medallist. Julia Shaw’s outstanding career
reached its peak when she was past her fortieth year.
award was for his outstanding contribution to the sport, as
National Secretary of Cycling Time Trials, formerly the RTTC, from
1992 to 2009. One of his main achievements was implementing the risk
assessment procedure, which arose out of the changed attitudes to
legal responsibility for accidents and injuries following the
Mark Cavendish won the World Professional Road Race, only
the second British rider ever to take this title. Cavendish had
already become the most successful road sprinter in the world, with
multiple stage-wins in the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia to
his credit. He won the Tour’s highly coveted final sprint stage on
the Champs Elysees an unprecedented four times in succession.
Bradley Wiggins achieved what had seemed to be an
impossibility: he became the first Englishman to win the Tour de
France. Before concentrating exclusively on road racing, Wiggins had
already won the individual pursuit gold medal at both the Athens and
the Beijing Olympics. One week after his Tour victory, he took the
gold medal in the London Olympic time-trial, to become
unquestionably the all-time king of British cycling, his uniqueness
recognised in his knighthood announced later that year.
Dot Tilbury had for over twenty years organised junior
cycling events, competitive and non-competitive, in the Isle of Man.
These events have brought thousands of young people into the sport,
among them Mark Cavendish, and they are a reminder that cycling has
to begin at grass roots amateur level. Dot’s award recognises the
dedication of all the people who work in this way to ensure that the
sport continues and has a future, and not only for Olympic or World
Awarded to Matthew Bottrill who won the Men's National Championships
at 10, 25 and 50 miles, the RTTC Circuit Championship, breaking
three competition records and being crowned Champion of Champions.
- Phil Liggett M.B.E. for a lifetime of services to cycling.
Since the first Bidlake award was presented to Hubert Opperman in 1934, the
world of British cycling has clearly changed out of all recognition. The
committee in those early days cannot have imagined that the award would ever
be given to British world champions or Tour de France winners, in fact they
would probably never have considered that a British rider would even take
part in the Tour. They probably did not foresee that so many women would
feature in the list either. In one way however, the Bidlake was ahead of its
time in being open to amateurs and professionals alike. It has always been
generous too in recognising the work of behind-the-scenes figures in the
sport, as well as the great riders. Presenting the award now is more complex
than it used to be because the sport has so many facets, and because we live
in an intensely publicity-conscious world in which so many achievements
clamour for our attention. The Bidlake award has been part of the British
cycling scene from its inception. It has been a symbol of excellence which
each new winner felt it an honour to be given, to link his or her name with
the names of the great riders of the past. This year we celebrate eighty
years of the Bidlake Trust, and we look forward with confidence to reaching