#1 - Terry's Tale - probably the longest!

2014

It's mid January 2014 and British Cycling throw the Sport into a state of frenzy with a massive jacking up of fees for 2014! A meeting of clubs is hastily arranged and on Saturday 25th January, Vikings Treasurer Jimmy Smith accompanies me down to Leicester to sit in a meeting which could see Cycle Speedway leaving the umbrella of British Cycling! All 36 people present share the same mood of disgust and rebellion, but sanity reigns and we decide to try and make peace with BC and ask for a little give on their terms. if not, the consensus and almost certainly the ultimate result could be to break away in 2015.

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So mid-January also saw me having more blood tests done and visiting the Doc on Monday 27th to see if anything identifiable and more importantly fixable showed up. Apparently something did! It looks like there were traces of something alien in my white blood cells that was dredging up a rogue remnant from having glandular fever as a toddler. This and an apparent vitamin D deficiency. So, the diagnosis of my lovely Doctor was to ride my bike but NOT RACE IT until Springtime when the Sun will come out and show me the way! After extensive enquiries (good old Google) I ended up borrowing a Light Box from an MS sufferer who had got tired of using it and started blinding myself for a few hours every night. My dear Superior Half also got me some little white pills and between them they may have done the trick or at least set my recovery in motion. Weirdly, I could manage no more than two fast laps at our Tuesday night practice on 18th March, but five days later Team Manager Neil Magee ushered me back into action at Sheffield and I managed to string a good few rides together, feeling absolutely delighted. Just hope this isn't a flash in the pan and that my frustration since August can be terminated at last.

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Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th March saw Gavin Parr and I travel up to Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders to take part in Scottish Cycling's level 2 Cycling Coaching course. It was hard work but we had a great weekend with a smashing set of lads, 17 of us and two course tutors who were excellent. We stayed in Peebles overnight and hosted our own individual coaching sessions on the Sunday morning, when we had a chance to demonstrate a few laps of elbow crunching to our very interested and curious peers. The result of the weekend was that Gav and I are now licensed SC/BC Trainee Coaches for two years, unless we return and pass the third day at the end of May for our somewhat longer license extension.

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Saturday 22nd had Richie Smith and I attending BC's Northern Go-Ride Coaching Conference at the Rivergreen Centre, Durham. We got to mingle with BC staff and other bike clubs, as well as leaving plenty of our "Rock Up & Ride" Fun Club flyers all over the place. Fingers crossed for a reaction or three.

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Sunday 23rd March saw my return to track action as we were a bit short-handed for the trip to Sheffield and our second Northern League fixture of the year. I'd sat out (been forced out!) of the home match against Edinburgh the week before and wasn't expecting a positive result yet. However, things went strangely well and after a miserable 2 to 3 lap maximum run time at Tuesday night's practice, I got through 7 fairly quick rides this time which was a total surprise to more than just me! That should make me feel better, I sure hope so.

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Tuesday 25th and work on the track fence has started this morning, which should give everyone including myself an extra lift. First rider to hit it will belong to Bury or Northumbria on 20th April!

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Sunday 30th had us visiting the pre-season favourites Stockport on a lovely sunny, breezy afternoon. Once again I allowed Neil to include me in the Division One side and like at the Sheffield meeting I felt pretty much OK and on the pace while running two last places. I fared much better in Division Two and again felt as though I could have done more races, so with luck the Doc's diagnosis was correct and I may well be getting over that mysterious malady.

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I spent most of this month and last compiling our Club's portfolio for acceptance as a Club Mark club, which has somewhat curtailed what I should have been doing - my BC Level 2 Coaching Course homework! Still, the Club has to come first.

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Saturday 3rd May saw the start of this year's Orchid Male Cancer Euro Vets Championship, kicking off at Horspath, a lovely little tranquil village in Oxfordshire. A long trip down with Jim G and Jason was a little tiring but somehow my speed was there during the meeting and I managed to squeeze into second place in the 60+ "A" Final, with Jim taking third place. I was also pretty unlucky not to grab second in the Over 50s "B" Final after being subjected to what looked very similar to team riding by the leader, though I'm far too nice to accuse anyone of that! First trophy of the year collared, feeling much better now!

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Saturday 17th had Jason, Jim Graham and I continuing our run through the Eurovets rounds at Coventry's Hearsall Common track. The previous Euro's feel was still there and I was pretty much back to normal at this round scoring heavily and challenging well to the flag. Although I feel cheated after the rider inside me got a proper old flyer in the Over 60 "A" Final and I stayed still as a protest, I did manage to win the Over 50 "B" Final which provided some consolation, especially with Bob Prince, Stevie Hodgkinson and Steve Mullinder in there with me.

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Sunday 18th saw the visit of Hull to Crammy for NL action, and this one presented me with the chance to lead the visitor's British Finalist Adam Stephenson, albeit for only half a race. Although I must now have the bulk of my lost speed and some stamina back, it isn't a match for 20-year-old legs and I was happy to take avoiding action when Adam launched the inevitable scything inside attack. Another one for the failing memory banks though, I'm dead chuffed about this one!

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A week later on Sunday 25th May and the mighty Stockport Steamroller hits Cramlington, flattening the Vikings as they claim an easy and very impressive victory. However, finishing the day equal second top scorer to Gavin who only picked up 15 felt pretty sweet, especially when I knew if my rides had been a bit better spread it could have easily been 12. You have to be in it to win it, as they say, and thanks once again to Linda Mulvey and her camera I'll have this little gem to cherish, as one of the League's top riders Matt Lush starts his two lap overtaking run on me! Feeling pretty good now as some fitness and a bit of speed seem to have returned. Only giving away 46 years here!

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This was followed up on Sunday 1st June by a great day for our Division Two side up in Glasgow against a very inexperienced outfit who tried hard but didn't have the fire-power to prevent a big defeat. I didn't want to ride as I still feel like a genuine Div 1 rider again but we were really short-handed for this one. After following team orders in heat 1 and allowing Andy McDougall an unchallenged win, my other rides were dead easy but looking back I should have won that one aswell. I was once again smitten by something like a flu bug with a horrible chesty cough (much like half our team!) but this one was accompanied by a chicken pox-like rash and awful headaches. However I didn't feel it at all during racing, but it restarted on the way home!

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Wednesday 4th and no option but to go see the Doc again! More blood tests, more x-rays and more examinations which I won't know the outcome of until after a fortnight. This year is really becoming a nightmare for me, but at least the wheels are still turning. Plenty folk aren't that lucky.

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Not great away to Edinburgh on 8th June but a couple of half decent efforts, felt reasonable but not as alive as at Glasgow!. back to the doctor on 15th but still no solution, although the chesty cough seemed to be letting go at last. And what did she say this time? "Have another blood test so I can make some comparisons". !!!!

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After what seems an eternity and has been an awful, frustrating half year, it's time for some more Euro Vets action at Sheffield on 21st June, having been lying in bed sweating a fever while Jason was our sole representative at the Poole round. I felt almost normal on the way down to the Yorkshire track, and once on the bike, no problem at all, although 8 rides was a bit of an ask, hence not trying too hard in the Over 50 B Final. I wonder if there's something magical about riding bikes and fending off the nasties while you're doing it? I managed to lead some rapid "youngsters"(Over 40s) off my inside grids including Martin Hollebon and Jason Burke for a lap and a half each before caving in, and took advantage of the A Final clash between Fred Rothwell and Mick Aris to snatch the win, well chuffed with that and still feeling good a few days later, so with luck no more moaning on here! It felt doubly good seeing my old mate Jim Graham riding superbly and getting third and a suitable reward in the A Final too.

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The next day, Sunday 22nd the super-fit, super-youthful Sheffield Rockets were our Northern League visitors but try as I might, and I did Gavin, honest, I couldn't get near any of them but was satisfied that I'd given it a go with no ill effects afterwards.

Highlights of my day were the presence of old 1960s Vikings team-mate George Taylor who came up to watch us today, and a couple of our Cycle Speedway Forefathers from the 1940s - Edmund Hall (sitting, right) and Archie Cooper (left) who rode for Holy Cross Demons in Wallsend, and Byker Meteors next to Brough Park respectively. They sat through the Division One match and really enjoyed it before taking pride of place in the after-match team photographs. Not as much as I enjoyed having them there though, what a thrill! massive thanks to Les Gustafson for locating these two wonderful Gentlemen, and heroes, for us. Photo - Linda (Mulvey) Kirkland

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I just wanna make a note here of a little fellah's début at Cycle Speedway. He's only 9, his name is Archie Freeman (unbelievably under the circumstances!) and I've just watched him BLAST around the Coliseum at his first ever go for almost an hour with hardly a rest. He's the Newcastle Diamonds Speedway team mascot and can really sling a 125cc speedway bike around, and he races for the Newcastle Gems in the Northern Junior League! Could be a significant event in our history so I thought it worth logging somewhere. His slightly older pal Dean Douglas is a pretty handy débutante too, this his second Tuesday night try-out. 22nd July 2014.

And they've now been joined (5th August) by teenager Josh Embleton and (12th) 10 year old Jack, and now 20-something Dan Connor - it's all good but only if we can drag them away from motorbikes on a Sunday!

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So, after a pretty crappy year or two I now feel just about as good as it'll ever get, so I'll try to stop whining and just get on with racing. Had a fairly decent blast at training tonight (Tuesday 12th Aug) rather than just piddling about watching Gav put the others through some agony, so at last I'm actually looking forward keenly to the rest of the season.

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Saturday 16th August saw another Orchid Eurovets win for me at a very wet Glasgow for Round Six, but Id rather have finished second (again!) to Wednesfield star Mick Aris than see him out after a very nasty accident at work which kept him away from this one. A good day for the Vikings with the three of us (Jim Graham and Jason Keith) bringing home four trophies between us.

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My Eurovets good fortune continued on my 64th birthday, Saturday 6th September when I managed to win again down at a superbly prepared Hull, with Fred Rothwell second and my pal Jim Graham third. To add to a great day I also finished second in the Over 50's and if all that wasn't enough to make this birthday one of my most memorable, I won the raffle aswell! Fred reckons I've now taken the lead in the Over 60s and Jason has moved into third place in the Over 40s. Looks like a great year for the travelling Vikings.

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Mid-September sees my obsession for keeping the track free of organic material come to fruition with the laying out and (rough) trimming of our donated Astroturf carpet on the Centre Brown, which of course has now become a standard "Centre Green", although completely unique in the Cycle Speedway world. What other miracles can our glorious band of Veteran riders pull off before the dream ends?

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With our home staging of the 2014 Orchid Eurovets Grand Prix series looming I took it upon myself (nah, I did actually consult with a "roving committee") to splash out rather heavily on trophies for this one, deciding to spend some of that lovely loot Parkside Logistics provided us with at the start of this year, and which we've barely touched so far, waiting for that rainy day! Hope it's sunny on Saturday 20th!

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Well, it sure wasn't sunny. Saturday 20th September and actually it was, but only after the match as we sat chatting in the café!

The sun did shine on me, however, as I fluked another good result taking 1st place in the Over 60s and following it up with a surprise win in the Over 50s too, somewhat against the odds. There were five Vikings collecting trophies today which is great for the Club, although we'd have liked to see a few more competitors turning up. I do seem to have snapped out of my doldrums in better shape than ever, really happy with recent performances. I have a theory that ignoring Gavin's 16-lap trials on Tuesday evening training sessions but putting in the odd few fast laps is helping my fitness.

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Training night on Tuesday 30th October and I let myself down badly after promising no more crashes this year! Serves me right for attempting to hang onto Gavin Parr's tail for a few laps. It was going quite well until I started enjoying the extra speed but I'm just not used to travelling that fast, and at the point of the pits bend the bike let go and turned itself inside out. I almost saved it, but that word "almost" is really a substitute for "ooh, the pain". Starting at the top, my left shoulder was battered and skinned, ditto right elbow, right hip, both knees, right ankle and more of a concern, both wrists! Getting so soft as the age thing creeps up. Got no sleep until I drugged myself at 4:00 am so I thought I'd better test the body the following Thursday when Gav and Dan Redshaw were both doing an extra session. That went pretty well, so my worries about the upcoming Ipswich trip for the Euro-Vets were unfounded. Still very sore though as I need a lot more recovery time than a week these days.

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So Jim Graham, Jason Keith and myself were off on our Euro-Vets travels again for the penultimate round at Ipswich on Saturday 4th October. We had decided to travel down and stay overnight on Friday, and just as well, as there was a gigantic diversion with the A1 closed around Newark and we didn't get to our hotel at Huntingdon until 11:20 pm! So straight to bed, and fortunately a half decent sleep before finishing the 88 mile trip into Ipswich comfortably next morning.

My first thought on seeing the Eagles' track suggested it was a vast arena. Strange how first impressions can be deceiving though, as it felt reasonably compact when racing on it! It's very wide from fence to fence across the middle but the track itself is the same width as ours, and with its overall measurement being 2 metres shorter than Crammy it really did feel smaller than it looked. Which is just as well for Jimmy and me, and especially as it was wet, wet, wet! Jim was hit by a very unusual bout of leg cramp he hasn't experienced before while I had those injury worries nagging in my mind.

With only 22 competitors across the three age groups (a surprisingly and disappointingly low turnout of 50s and 60s) we were both certain of making at least the Over 60s "A" Final with Fred Rothwell the only other OAP in the field. Unfortunately this meant we had to race with the Over 40s, and that was a pretty strong group bolstered by a good influx of one-off South East riders including a bunch of very rapid Eagles.

Anyway, to cut this long story shorter, I was inside Fred for the Final and managed another Over 60s win with Jimmy third. I also managed to sneak under Stevie Hodgkinson and Phil Hemming to chase the immaculate Paul Timms home for another 2nd place in the Over 50's "A" Final. So poor Jason was the only one of our little party to miss out on a trophy, cruel luck after scoring 18 points in his round with some great riding. He did win the Over 40's "B" Final convincingly to maintain his challenge for overall third place in the series, however. The trip back was uneventful, arriving home around 9:30 pm. Next stop - the final "Final" at Wednesfield on 18th October. I'm hoping the year will end on a happy personal (racing only) note, unlike the previous two.

Bit of a thrill to lead another (younger!) Big Name at Ipswich, although Dave Meanley did shuffle under me eventually!

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And so the Grand Final of the 2014 Euro-Vets Grand Prix series beckoned, again at the widely recognised Centre of the CS Universe, Wednesfield, Wolverhampton on Saturday 18th October 2014. I was almost certain to take the Over 60s title as long as I reached the A or B final and scored something. I was also in with a good chance of claiming third in the Over 50s but not quite sure about what could happen to spoil it on the day! However, it turned out fine for me and both positions were confirmed come presentation time.

It was great to see Jimmy Graham get a reward for his commitment to the whole series, being a constant companion for Jason and myself as we followed the series around the UK. Jim took third spot after Mick Aris lost too much ground following his nasty accident at work. Also great to have Jason Keith joining in with overall third in the Over 40s, a far from easy achievement.

Although we were again forced to ride amongst the Over 40s due to a low turnout, I didn't ride as well as I have been lately and was also a bit disappointed to lose to Mick twice today. I think I have a hangover phobia about the Wednesfield track from experiences on it in the deep and distant past! It would have helped if I could have gated a bit quicker, but the pain at the starts was just too much to allow maximum pressure on the pedals. This is my excuse, damage from the Bury prang and the other side of my foot was the same:

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Anyway, being Over 60s Euro-Vets Champion and Over 50s Bronze Medallist feels pretty good to me after all these years and numbs some of the pain, nice to be the first to bring home a national title to our little Club. Not sure if I can count the National League Combination title I won in the 1980s so this one will suffice.

Right to left Mark Winwood (40s),Paul Timms (50s) both Birmingham and Little Old Me! Champions jerseys were provided FREE by the magnificent TLI Cycling Organisation, more of which I'm sure over the winter.

Top Three 2014

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Good to end the year on a high note, so yesterday was great. However, today's match (Sunday 19th October) was perhaps an even better one, or at least for me personally) as I shrugged off the Bury injury (not really, but I tried to ignore the pain from my right heel at the starts) to return a decent score against Heckmondwike in our final home match of the Northern League season. We looked in trouble when Michael Parr declared himself not fit and we already knew Mark Mulvey was too ill to ride, so someone had to step up his game today. That turned out to be me for once as I knocked up 17 points at Cramlington, and with our only two NL-ready youngsters Dan Redshaw and Dan Wharrier also riding well we managed a decent enough win against the still stricken-for-numbers Yorkshire side.

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With a pile of Euro-Vets trophies at home, our two teams not finishing last in the League, the track and facilities at Cramlington really taking shape now and my mystery ailment vanishing it has indeed turned out to be a good year, or half a year for me. And I've met some great lads and lasses on my travels this season, not just Oldies, to really make it a year to remember.

The similar-looking pairs of trophies are for 50s and 60s top fours at the same track.

Terrys2014EuroVetsTrophies650

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And the Big One!

That just left the Northumbrian Rider's Championship to ruin my end-of-season flourish on Saturday 8th November at Cramlington. With three tough rides and two not so bad, I would have to gate well to stand any chance of a big score.

So we arrived at the end of another great season of racing for the Vikings, and I suppose myself in particular, and on this day I managed to scrape onto the last step of the rostrum at the Northumbria Rider's Championship. With Gavin, John and Dan Wharrier missing the field was somewhat weaker than we'd hoped for but you have to be in it to win it, as they say. After being flattened (a move I fully expected with Jason on grid 2 and me on 1) in heat six and being battered by the concrete on the first turn, I thought my day was over when I tried to stand up. I've had plenty of broken ribs in my time, most from mountain bike falls, and this really felt like a few had cracked. However I managed to do the rerun and give Jay a decent chase, as I did to Michael Parr a bit later on so it would be up to a spoiler to ruin my day.

Dan Redshaw tried hardest, forcing me to go defensive which isn't my style and just felt wrong, but he just couldn't get by me so I ended up third, a real bonus after a very successful year. And thanks to Gavin's purchasing power and Dash Trophies' tasty stock I brought home another dinky little ornament for posterity:

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So now I can relax and lick my wounds (can't really do that without further hurt!) and get the bikes ready for next season.

A FEW MORE THOUGHTS ON THE NRC:

So there we were, the last home meeting of the season, our Club Championship. The scene was set. A fantastic trio of huge silver cups sat there on the Astroturf facing the pits, tempting the riders, and provided by Cycle Speedway’s great friend Steve Mullinder of Dash Trophies, Wolverhampton. The only thing missing today was the presence of Club Captain and odds-on title favourite Gavin Parr who had to work away from home. What further incentive could there be for a no-hoper to get on the rostrum?

None.

So every point was crucial as those in attendance tried to produce their best form of the season, no love lost today. With Gavin missing it was fairly obvious that his brother Michael and Jason Keith, our other two heat leaders, were gunning for top spot and would not be denied. It was also obvious that whichever won their duel in heat three would most likely be heading for top spot. And so it proved, that crucial race seeing Jason on grid one and Michael on three, and with Jason’s gating taking a step up this year he had the edge away from the tapes with Michael chasing him down all the way to the flag but unable to mount a challenge.It was now a case of watching these two collect their remaining race wins while, for the rest, trying to snatch some unexpected points.

First to demonstrate serious intentions was Fred Mitchell. He’s only ridden about twice this year but those hills around his Alston, Cumbria home have induced some venom into his legs! Fred was on fire today, probably the least expected to do well simply because of his lack of racing, but the speed he showed with two heat wins off the belt sent out a warning to those waiting to race him later and his winning scrap with Jim Graham was one of the races of the season at the AstroDrome.

Similarly we haven’t seen Scott Latimer on track for quite some time and the same doubts about fitness and sharpness applied to him, but like Fred he demonstrated that he couldn't be taken for granted with 7 points from his first two starts. Worrying times for hopefuls Jim Graham, Dan Redshaw and Terry Kirkup! But that wasn't all. Secretly steaming along and pulling in plenty of points was another old-timer Keith Oldham, using his track craft and still decent gating ability to push him up the points table as the meeting progressed. Realistically the others in the field would have to scrat around for scraps and hope for misfortune to strike the top half, but each one had his moment of glory.

So, who would interfere the most? Dan Redshaw not only faced both Jason and Michael in his first race, but also had poor gates compared to his other main rivals which proved costly, while Fred needed to beat Dan when they met in their last race to stand a chance but couldn't do it, by then his legs a bit tired after a gallant attempt. That left both on 16 points and praying for disaster to overtake me in what looked a cushy last ride for myself. With just three youngsters out against me in the final race, I needed to drop two points to produce a three-man run-off.

By now, the heat six injury after a determined attempt to out-gate the Champ was really starting to tell, whether it was the battered hip, crushed chest or the hard smack on the back of the head, but I didn’t feel like extending myself any further. So I was really lucky to find the lowest-scoring contestants, début brothers Josh and Ben Ray lining up in my last heat. Little Lee Redshaw managed one of his better starts while his ancient opponent struggled away from the tapes, fully expecting to cruise past the tiny teaser if necessary. There followed a cheeky series of push-outs that left no room for overtake, and of course it would have been unsporting as well as potentially disastrous to barge underneath with that lovely trophy beckoning, so I remained rooted in second while Lee romped around Crammy at his best ever pace to take the flag, deservedly. Just one point in it then between podium or pits, but this was surely my final pot in a very long series of NRC appearances.

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Once again, nothing stays the same for too long in my fleet, and at the end of October 2014 I decided that my Mielec bike could do with going on a diet to get it approaching the weight of the Specialized. Therefore: Mid-November now and I end the year in the worst possible state with painful rib and other peripheral damage but at least my bikes have made another step forward after some part-swapping and wheel building! Although the new wheels were indeed supposed to go on the Mielec, the finished weight surprised me a little by offering a slight advantage over the wheels I built for the Rockhopper. Therefore in order to maintain Rocky as really Special(ized) and my best bike, almost exclusively for the Euro-Vets in 2015 (and not to be abused in Northern League matches), the Polish mount got Rocky's black wheels and the new silver ones went on it instead. The result of all this is a dirty weight (some shale on the tyres!) of 15 lbs 2 oz, or 6.86 kg, with a little more to come off if I decide to get serious (or not if seriously skint!).

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Vintage Meeting Proposed!

At the end of 2014 there's quite a bit of excitement being generated between Geordieland and Scottieland following their excellent idea proposed by a Falcon or three, to stage some racing at Redbraes on vintage bikes! That kicked off a desperate search for suitable equipment resulting in the production of three such bikes down here and a couple more Up North! Real "cowhorns" together with some Olde Worlde Regulations should make it a fantastic trip down memory lane early next season!

That was the good news. For me there was a little more bad, with the whole family including me struck down by colds and flu over Christmas and New year, and my wife's last remaining Aunt losing her husband, so unfortunately my next visit to Birmingham (for the funeral) wasn't be a happy one.

There's a lot more old stuff from my previous Newcastle CSC web site and my Bikes page to display here for posterity when I have time but as I now await yet another racing season as a 64 year old I feel pretty much satisfied as the first Geordie to win a regional competition (National League Combination in 1986) and the only one to win a national one (the 2014 Euro-Vets Over 60s). That, I think, is my limit.