The Cycling Youth Of A BEAMZ Director
The Cycling Youth Of A BEAMZ Director Shows What You Can Achieve Through Pedal Power.
If you get into cycling early, and have a reasonable amount of freedom, then pedal power can really take you places.
In this blog about his cycling youth BEAMZ director Hugh Milner talks about his adventures on a bicycle, the joy of travelling under your own steam, and that no matter where you work (almost) cycling lets you see the world.
My brother and I were inspired by our grandfather, Herbert Wright with tales of cycling in the Home Counties from about 1890 to 1910, firstly on an Old Ordinary, then a Safety Cycle.
John bought a Raleigh Roadster but some years later about 1958 when I was 14, I bought a Dawes Windrush for £11-17-6.
I brought a number of old 1930s era bikes home from jumble sales and stripped them down and rebuilt them for fun, came in very useful when the freewheel broke on Skye years later.
We cycled all over Essex, Kent ands Suffolk from our home in Hornchurch often clocking up > 100 miles a day by the time I was 16.
We had cycling holidays in N Wales, the Lake District (yes, Kirkstone, Hardknott and Wrynose Passes) and the Yorkshire Dales (Mastilies Lane with heavy panniers!).
Meanwhile I was at boarding school in N Devon, where we formed a cycling club and cycled all around the local area.
I cycled down to Truro a couple of times to stay with my cousin. With a school friend I had a cycling holiday on the Gower Peninsula in S Wales.
In 1963 John and I did over 1,000 miles in 16 days cycling from Edinburgh to the Highlands via the Road to the Isles, up the west coast to Cape Wrath, then along the north coast to John O' Groats and back via the A9, a wonderful experience.
I loved hill climbing, I delighted (until recently!) in knowing there wasn't a tarmacked road in the UK that I could not climb.
I think the inside of the bends on Hardknott are the steepest but Wrynose was reputed to be surfaced with concrete because it was too steep to be tarmacked.
Admittedly, I changed the sprockets and chainwheels for the big tours to the lowest available then but those are nothing compared with the gears now around.
When I joined the Forestry Commission in 1962, I cycled all over Herts and Beds from Hertford, then East Anglia from Orford. In 1964, I cycled 211 miles one day, knowing I would not have such flat ground again because I was transferring to the Forest of Dean the following week.
I did a few runs over the next two years in Glos and into S Wales (Heads of the Valleys and Hay on Wye) but was posted up to N Argyll in 1966.
Major problem for somebody who preferred long distance tours to racing: there was no choice of routes to get out of the Morvern peninsular except after 30 miles and that put an end to my cycling for years. I took up canoeing instead!
I left the Dawes in Lochaline and was posted to Kielder in Northumberland in 1972, where I met Elizabeth but we were very short of money with two boys at boarding school, so it was not until 1984 when my mother died that I could afford to buy a Raleigh Record.
I did not use it much up there but when I was transferred to Petersfield in 1989, I started cycling again.
In 1995 Elizabeth and I had a fortnight's cycling holiday in Brittany and in East Anglia in 1986. I really started cycling in earnest once I retired from FC in 2009, taking the train to appointments and cycling from the nearest station.
I have used Rob's old mountain bike fitted with wide-section tyres to cycle along woodland rides during inspections, halving the normal time.
Rob persuaded Elizabeth to buy the Wilier for me in 2018 as a surprise present and we have done five sportives since then and a few other runs out together. At 45 he is supremely fit (his watch tells him he has the fitness age of a 20 year-old!) cycling and running ultra marathons too.
I attach a selection of good runs I did back in my youth compiled from three successive log books I kept then.
Hugh (left) with Angie & Rob on the South Downs Sportive 2019
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