Like most 50+ British children I started riding on a
tricycle. Brand names which come to mind are Triang,
Sunbeam, Gresham Flyer (Rolls-Royce of kids trikes)
and Raleigh Winkie. The last has a very strange name
as winkie meant something entirely different to us
kids back then, more about winkies a little bit later
>From tricycles to bikes this was the normal right of passage. No one used stabilisers in our part of London far to sissy. You just got on and rode. My first real bike was an Elswick Hopper, must have visited every engine shed, railway terminus, bus garage and trolleybus depot in London on that Elswick. Mad keen bus and train spotter way back then. Used it for fishing expeditions as well. It got me everywhere. Funny thing in London back then we were banned from cycling to school and this was when traffic was relatively light, now they are trying to encourage the kids to ride to school and the traffic is downright dangerous. Strange world. In November 1960 we moved from West London to Stevenage New Town, spanking new purpose built town. This town had the finest cycle path network in Europe at the time. Soon found the local train spotting haunt where everyone gathered this was on the old London North Eastern Railway line, the one that runs from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh using the East Coast route. The initials LNER were corrupted to the Late and Never Early Railway by us kids. This place was full of the local railway society club people as well, some real strange men amongst this group, one in particular liked reading stories about single women living on their own with an Alsatian dog, really pornographic and a clear signal to stay clear of this gent. He must have been only in his late 20's but he seemed ancient to us lads. Now this guy had a gammy leg and because of this he couldn't ride a bike but he did posses the most beautiful Higgins Ultralight racing trike. This is where I learnt to ride a proper mans trike. I use to borrow it to ride up and down the hill on Bridge Road which had a fierce camber. Firstly I rode it cross handed so that you had to concentrate on steering and then normally, wasn't long before I was riding to Little Freds or Big Freds Cafe's in Stevenage Old town to get the bacon rolls and teas for the group, amazing the amount of stuff you can carry on a tricycle a regular domestique. Wonderful times waiting for the food and drink in the cafes watching the girls jive to Nut-rocker by B Bumble and the Stingers and other such classics of the times. In the December my Dad gave me for Christmas a brand new Claud Butler Challenge and I was soon riding with our local club and racing in club time trials. Back then most time trials had what we called dead turns, the courses were out and back but you got turned around in the middle of the road by a marshal, would never happen today because of the traffic. Well it wasn't long before I was borrowing the Higgins to see what I could do an evening 10. Just to see how much slower my times would be, much to my surprise I was quicker on the trike and this is when I got hooked. Finally this loco spotters club was absolutely full of perverts but because you knew who they were you could always be on guard against their predatory advances, but there was this one particular occasion where we nearly got caught out. The club had organised a works visit to Sratford Railway Works and being dead keen we all wanted to go, this was one place you could never bunk in (trespass) the only way in was with an official shed permit. Saturday came and we boarded the train at Stevenage Station for the visit. This was back in the days when they were still using non-corridor suburban coaches, just compartments, well I got in one with by best school mate Terry Harrigan. We thought great all alone and we could have a crafty smoke without the grown-ups around us when one of the adult loco perverts jumped in our compartment at the last minute just as the train was leaving the station, we were trapped no way out and the next stop was over 23 miles down the line. It wasn't long before he started making advances to this pair of schoolboys but this is where humour can diffuse a very difficult and worrying situation. Now Terry had a wonderful Herfordshire accent just like the late great Sir Bernard Miles the famous actor. Now this accent and dialect has now sadly virtually disappeared but it had a lovely funny sound to it. Terry now said those unforgettable words which diffused this tense and difficult situation "We know what you are after you are after playing with our water squirters!" This trike man was really interested more in our winkies than the Higgins or engine numbers but it worked and stopped him dead in his tracks. No pun intended. Sadly much later on several members of this club went down (Prison sentences) for crimes of indecency against children. Next my children on the trike, the Hobbs TT and the three F's ride.
Thats all for now. Keep those wheels spinning, in your memories if not still on the road. Be lucky Mick Butler Huntingdon UK.