Re: [CR]1950's British Cycling Touring Documentary

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Date: Tue, 15 May 2007 12:03:24 -0600
From: "Mitch Harris" <>
To: "Dr. Paul Williams" <>
Subject: Re: [CR]1950's British Cycling Touring Documentary
In-Reply-To: <00af01c7942f$b33a88c0$0200a8c0@BIGTOP>
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cc: classic rendezvous <>
cc: classic rendezvous

On 5/11/07, Dr. Paul Williams <> wrote:
> Hi Doug, Peter et al.
> I raised these films on the list last year and got some response at the
> time. Fabulous stuff. Is such touring still possible in this day and age?

Yes. I toured all over the Cotswods and Oxfordshire recently and it's still possible.

I notice a lack of motor cars throughout! I love the lines about lawyers
> and
> carpenters cycling side by side and enjoying friendly banter. Was it
> really
> this egalitarian? A while ago we raised the issue of economics and
> politics
> when talking about cycling in the UK. Did touring tend to be a
> middle-class
> pursuit? How did things break down on the racing circuit?

The racing circuit I participated in during the late 80s/early 90s was working class but affluent. Pipe-fitters, glaziers, skilled labor of all kinds. They were the folks who'd talk about work at the track, and drive to the races in logoed panel vans. But those that had some university wouldn't be mentioning it, and didn't respond much to the American who'd say "what do you do" like Americans do. Every accent you heard was working class, no RP. And this was before you heard a working class accent on TV outside of Eastenders and Coronation Street.

Were there those
> who toured and raced? I ask because it seems that, at least in North
> America, there are two camps.

Yes, two camps. Lycra vs. tourers. Once out in the lanes between Salisbury and Wells I passed a couple riders in tweed plus fours and touring sweaters, looking like the '55 video in 1990, and they ignored me entirely. I was in wool tights and Jersey but they were racing style cycling clothes. I turned around and caught up with them to ask directions, and they tried to ignore me still until they heard my accent, and apparantly all was forgiven because I was an American and couldn't be expected to know that racers don't talk to CTC riders. They were curious why a "racer" would tour with a Carradice though. Same thing would happen at the track when I'd show up with my race gear in the Carradice--I'd get the piss taken because of my CTC membership and touring interests.

The CTC seemed much more middle class than the racing culture--mostly university folks with green politics. When I was active in CTC organization and LCC events, members would bristle when they realized I actively raced. That might have been the trouring plus fours tribe vs. the Lycra racer problem or it might have been that as a racer they knew I was hanging out with Tory voters.

Mitch Harris Little Rock Canyon, Utah

Moreover, where I grew up in Ontario racing
> seemed to be a middle-class thing and cycle-touring was an even far less
> common pursuit associated with "middle-age," granola types (okay maybe I
> am
> being a bit fascetious).
> I am fascinated to see all of those lovely lightweights, a la Patterson,
> spinning along the country roads. And what about the eclectic range of
> clothing? Not an advert in sight!!!
> Cheers,
> Paul.
> Paul B. Williams, MPhil (Wales), PhD (Queen's)
> 70 Viscount Ave.,
> Ottawa, On, K1Z 7M9
> ph: 613-761-3867
> e-mail:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Doug Smith" <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Friday, May 11, 2007 5:38 PM
> Subject: [CR]1950's British Cycling Touring Documentary
> > John Hudson of London wrote:-
> > Some friends of mine at the bicycle film festival came across
> > thisdocumenta
> > ry from 1955, about day tripping club cyclists from the CTC,
> > and I thought there might be some interest on the list, or at least
> people
> >
> > with 15 minutes to kill watching old british touring bikes.
> > Its in 2 parts:
> >
> >
> > I am surprised that there has 'nt been a reply or response to this
> > posting,
> > well not on list anyway!
> >
> > Over the years I and others in the UK have made efforts to try and
> explain
> >
> > to the folks in the States the kind of club life and bikes we rode.
> There
> > i
> > s
> > nothing like experiencing the real thing and those two films get as near
> > to
> >
> > reality as anyone could get. The pictures are as I remember those days
> > which give a true picture of cycling here in the years of a bygone era .
> >
> > I know there are many folks in the States who are always interested in
> our
> > cycling history and wanting to learn more. These films go a long way to
> > fulfilling that interest and give another insight of how it was really
> > like
> > here
> > in the UK.
> >
> > Doug Smith
> > North Dorset
> > UK