Article Index

2015

A poor start after a lazy early season's worth of training sessions which started on mountain bikes but didn't attract many members into the trees! Taking it easy at the later track sessions must have had an effect on me as I found the going very tough in our first Northern League match away at Heckmondwike. Somehow though I bucked up before we entertained both Bury and Stockport on successive weekends in March scoring 11 and 13, but even better was seeing the following acknowledgement from Club Captain Gavin Parr on our Forum:

Re: SUN 29TH MARCH - STOCKPORT (NL)

Posted by Gavin ยป Mon Mar 30, 2015 7:43 am

Well done to all yesterday. Yes Stockport were weaker than we expected but everyone dug deep and put in a great shift.
M.O.M for me was TK. looked like he had that fuel in the tank for 4 laps in every race and was well in the mix every time.
 
Thanks Gavin, I appreciate those words of encouragement. 
 

Talking with Jim Graham after the meeting we were both agreed that the comparative calm of the Euro-Vets season can't come too soon - "Gentleman's Racing" rather than kill or be killed with sprightly and aggressive youngsters! 

See http://www.eurovets.uk for reports on the Euro-Vets Grand Prix series which will save me re-writing some of it here. Suffice to say Jimmy, Jason and I are knocking up a huge mileage this year again in pursuit of Short Track enjoyment!

As I write this on a sunny 23rd July 2015 it's probably a bit late to start a full run-down of the season but I'm still pretty happy with hovering around a 2 point Northern league Division One average, and also being possibly the oldest active Division One rider in the NL and maybe even further afield. Still enjoying it as much as ever, but mainly the Euro-Vets series which is a far more relaxed and enjoyable venture altogether. If there's a down side it's probably the fact that Janet has made me evacuate the living room of my trophies, a fair old collection since 2012.

Glasgow's Three Rivers League meeting provided our first opportunity to mimic the Old Days with several riders from Edinburgh and Glasgow getting their bikes as back to basics as they could, while down here Jim Graham and myself had managed to knock four vintage beasties together. Here's a truly game 67 year old Keith Dyer toying with me! 

terrykeith 

This year's Euro-Vets Grand Prix series has again seen Jason Keith, Jim Graham and myself clocking up thousands of miles all over the country in pursuit of cycling serenity, but I've developed a distinctly laid-back attitude after becoming Over 60 Champion last year which manifests itself in an unwillingness to try and race anyone who wants to use shady tactics, and that principally applies to Bob Prince of Birmingham. Bob is generally reported as being the top Referee in the UK but that doesn't stop him from employing bad stuff on track, and he even got excluded for it in the World Veteran's semi-final at Leicester. Every time I race him, unless I get clear I am forced to the outer extremities of the track and I've got such a downer on it now I'd much rather race a nice fast 40 or 50 year old, win or lose. Hence I'm lagging behind in this year's title chase but I'll be happy to stay competitive and of course still love racing all the other lads as this remains by far the best type of Short Tracking for oldies like me. I really enjoyed winning the Northumbria round!

I've missed a chunk out of a very busy 2015 season but I can't leave this out - a few words on the World Veterans Championship and the British Veterans Club Championship, at Leicester on Friday 7th August and Hull on Saturday 15th August respectively. 

I'm not at all sure I should have entered this, but a bit of a gee-up from Gavin and wanting to keep Jason company on the long trip to Leicester finally made up my mind, though ironically it was my good friend and Euro-Vets adversary from Wednesfield, Mick Aris who did most to persuade me as he and a few of the other EV regulars, all great pals now right across the age range, had entered. I say ironically because come the great day and Mick was yet again on the injured list and so unable to take part - rotten luck as I'm confident he'd have reached the Final.

Anyway, I was drawn in semi final 1 with Gavin and Jason in the second, so a little lonely in the pits but I kept abreast of goings-on with two other great pals, Stevie Hodgkinson of Birmingham and the incredible Flying Scot, John Murphy. On any other day I think I would have got through myself after missing out only by just one solitary point, and having led several much younger riders and qualifiers only to drift off line and drop 3 or 4 almost certain points when in good scoring positions. However, even just to be here and be part of this enormous event, truly my only chance of doing so, was still a fantastic rush. And credit to the organisers who ensured that EVERY entrant received a very nice set of mementos of the event which I will forever treasure. A really great day continued as I sat with Jim Smith, Keith Dyer and Caroline Rose in the sunny stands watching Gavin and Jason both cruise through to the World  Final with some great racing. I'm actually glad I missed the cut because being sat there watching the sheer speed of eventual winner Craig Marchant, our Super Skipper and Runner-Up Gavin Parr, the incredibly rapid Steve Harris, Mark Winwood and Jason Burke left me in no doubt that this event was a step up from the semis in terms of sheer speed and power. There was no room for dawdlers on this track (and anyway, three Vikings in the Final would have made it seem easy!).


I'll never forget my day here, such an improvement on my last Leicester outing in 1991 (although I reached the British Final that time!).

Here I'm still ahead of Australian legend Brad Hoppo with my good friend Steve Hodgkinson homing in already!

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And here I follow Mark Winwood out of gate 3 with my Euro-Vets buddies Paddy Wenn and Mick Knowles gearing up to pounce!

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Once again I get away decently to follow Martyn Hollebon to the line with the amazing Lord John Murphy giving chase.

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Again I used a proper gater as cover to escape the other two, this time the Champ, the emphatic winner Craig Marchant.

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And finally, as usual when I race old friend Bob Prince, the outcome isn't great for me! I'd managed to stay on my wheels for almost a full season, apart from clouting the fence at Hellingly, but this one definitely was NOT my fault!

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So at my first and last crack at a World Championship, I didn't reach the Final itself but on paper at least can justifiably claim to be the top Over 60 in the World anyway!

Next, to the following weekend and our little squad's appearance at Hull in the British Veterans Club Championship. (Photos courtesy of Linda Kirkland)

With Michael Parr not available through work and the baffling John Wilson having retired for the 4th or 9th time this year we knew we were up against it but Jason and Gavin had always been keen to enter after their first attempt in East Anglia last year, when the pair plus Michael and Mark Mulvey failed to reach the Final. This time we were woefully weak on paper in comparison, the missing places being filled by Neil Magee, Shane Gray and myself. Neil is still on the long, slow road back to full speed after his crash at Hull a few seasons ago while Shane has been showing great form for such a late and er, mature returnee in training sessions at Crammy. So anything more than five points each would be a bonus, though of course we expected triple that from our pair of star racers, and sure enough they delivered massively in our semi, where we knocked out Sheffield and defending Champions Kesgrave!

So on to the Final with massive grins covering all five of our faces against Leicester, Poole and Birmingham. That's right, Leicester, Poole and Birmingham for goodness' sake! This has to be the most dramatic meeting I've ever ridden in as we started with a real bang and kept the pressure on Poole and Birmingham as Leicester cruised towards an easy win. Somehow I found a couple of extra ounces of energy in my final race with the pressure really on (after we'd insisted we were here for the enjoyment only before the start!) and skipped away from grid one to lead for three laps before Leicester's brilliant Kev Burns ducked safely under me. I still held on the to flag as we'd pulled well away from Steve Hodgkinson and Pete Chant and suddenly we had a slim chance of not only beating Birmingham, but also Poole for second spot!

Here's Kev hardly breathing while I'm about to make an appointment with the Sponsor!

terryleadskev

Unfortunately Jason couldn't maintain his earlier pace in his last ride and we ended up tied, for the second time today, requiring a run-off with the Brummies. That meant Gavin v Birmingham's flyer Mark Winwood this time, runaway leader of this year's Euro-Vets Over 40s category. Now then, over the last two years I've witnessed some epic, and scandalously quick clashes between these two in Euro-Vets matches and this one was no exception. However, Gavin's win of the toss meant Mark was forced to chase, as few others can, all the way around the four laps with Gav just getting the verdict. We'd got on the podium!!! This indeed had turned out to be the best racing day of my life and I just couldn't help smothering Gavin with a bear hug when he dropped back into the pits after the run-off, what a feeling! Lots of folk all over the country have been talking about Gavin and his performances for Sheffield in the Elite League and of course for the Vikings and himself. Today he produced nine wins and an avoidable exclusion to show his obvious class, but he'd also put Neil, Shane, Jason, me and the whole of the Northumbria Club well and truly on the CS map. At long last we have some credits to show in our match programmes!

I receive my medal and inform the Sponsor what size box I require.

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This may not look but it feels like a diamond to me (and I know the Sponsor pretty well!).

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Having two massive meetings in one day, having two on the trot and two in three races in the semi but decently spread out ones in the Final, I am extremely chuffed that I kept it going and with my haul of 7 plus 7 on this, a day to remember and tell my grandchildren about. And as I get ever close to my fiftieth year in Short Track I will treasure this, the day I know is the biggest in the Club's history over that time, and even longer.

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It absolutely does not matter what befalls me on track for the rest of 2015, my little Club has reached the pinnacle of it's success and I am thrilled to little pieces to still be a part of it. Of course it could get even better but not, I think, in my lifetime.

WE VIKINGS HAVE A BRITISH CHAMPION!

Strictly speaking, like some of the other items above not my story, and I wasn't even there: tut, tut Terence! However, how can I not mention the young man (OK, he's 43 now!) who has since the age of nine referred to me as his "Cycle Speedway Dad" and who has now become a British Champion? Of course I refer to Gavin Parr, simply the best ever rider from the North East who won the Over 40 crown at Kesgrave, East Anglia on Sunday 30th August 2015 in this, the year our Club may well be 70 years old (unsubstantiated speculation). Our other representative, Jason Keith who I've known since he was 14 and is a truly great friend as is Gav of course, didn't have as much luck as the Champion after starting with a win and a second in the final and copping an exclusion, but still held our flag up high in support of Gavin and the Vikings. This really does top off a fantastic year for the Club and me personally, and I doubt we'll ever see a better one in my lifetime.

IMG 2048

Terry deserts the Vikings - again - 48 years after the first time!

Yes indeed I did! Following my self-imposed rule of not riding in the Three Rivers League for the Vikings (I treat it solely as a breeding ground for new riders or comeback route for prematurely retired Oldies) I didn't mind "signing" for Glasgow to help them over their current rider shortages when we visited Edinburgh for Round Two on Sunday 30th August  It also gave me a chance to give the Dans, Shane and the rest of my Club mates a good run out instead of an easy tootle. Still refused to overtake the titchies from Edinburgh though. All credit to the Dans for chasing me down when I'd led them off the line, and on a track I like a lot.

TerryDebut4Glasgow

Although racing in the Euro-Vets this year has not had my full attention or effort on every occasion (see match reports on eurovets.uk for explanations), it was really nice to win the final round at Bury on 10th October and at the same time inflict two defeats on eventual 2015 Champion Bob Prince. I managed to dive under him when we met in the heats and then win the "A" Final off grid 1 after scoring well in the main programme. Bob got his revenge in the Over 50s "B" Final but by then I knew my good friend Steve Hodgkinson, a teammate of Bob's at Birmingham, had just about clinched the Over 50s title so didn't need any more help from me! Another lovely trophy for the collection, and the on-the-day pot sponsored by the Bury Club is also extremely nice, so thanks to them. It compensates somewhat for losing the superb Champions Trophy which has been on my sideboard for the last 12 months. Still can't believe I'm racing this well at 65.

rostrum60s

We just have one more trek away remaining now after a very long season, that to Cookson Park, Sheffield to take part in a brand new, one-off Knockout competition to be known as the TLI British Veterans Championship.  Once again split into age categories, although we're not sure yet if the 50s and 60s will be mixed, it depends on the number of entries. This meeting is in aid of another charity, this time it is the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign which one of our number, Hellingly's Martin Hollebon is a strong supporter of so we thought we'd try to help out with some support. With luck Keith Oldham, Norman Carson and Neil Magee will be accompanying us to this one.

Light up my Life

My strong desire to get floodlights installed at Cramlington came to fruition on Tuesdsay night at our October 13th 2015 when we had both bends lit after our pits bend test the previous Tuesday. Although they look great I think we'll stick another two half way along each straight to give more complete coverage. Racing under them was brilliant when we staged a Come & Try It session in co-operation with Northumberland County Council's Highways Department the next night and we may have attracted a bunch of brand new riders!

The Final Countdown

Sunday 18th October saw us at home to Sheffield in our final Northern League fixture. It's been a long season and I think we're all pleased it's come to an end now. I had a great race in my first outing to take a very unexpected win and may have pulled off another one if I hadn't clipped Jason's back wheel when he slid very uncharacteristically coming out of the second turn to ruin a potential 7-3. Although I tried as hard as I could in the other three rides there was no partner support and I gave up the chase after a few laps, leaving me feeling a little disgruntled with one of my partners in particular. I hope the latest new recruits can perform better after a season in the Sport. I'm really only interested in Veteran racing now although until I'm replaced in the Division One side by someone slightly more youthful I will try as hard as I can to set a good example to the younger riders. 

Not Long To Go Now!

Saturday 24th October was a great day for me. I had the pleasure of taking part in the last veterans meeting of the year at Sheffield, the newly-inaugurated TLI British Veterans Championship in aid of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign which I helped set up with the Main Man for Vets racing in the UK, none other than my great friend Fred Rothwell. Last time I raced Fred in a team match was at Sowerby Bridge around 1991 but since I started riding in the Euro-Vets a few years ago I've tried to help him with some of the backstage stuff, and of course I set up the eurovets.uk web site, forum and Facebook page for the whole world to use. Most pleasing of all was that Northumbria fielded the biggest number of riders in the event - six - with Norman Carson, Keith Oldham, Jim Graham, Jason Keith and Neil Magee keeping me company in the van, a great showing and we all had a good day on and off the track. I couldn't do any better than third on the day but did overtake brand new Over 60s competitor Joe McLaughlin of Coventry on the last lap of the Grand Final to reach my last rostrum of 2015. Only one significant event left on our calendar now, the Northumbrian Rider's Championship on Sunday 1st November when I'll be hoping to make the top six! Sadly I've learned since that my good pal Mick Aris of Wednesfield (2nd from left) has decided to retire so I'll have no-one in the pits to share my moans with next year!

over60s

 

Well, finally arrived at Season's End 2015, and the annual Big Match, the Northumbrian Riders Final.

And it all ended pretty well for me after a full week suffering from some flu-like bug and not really looking forward to riding. However I'm glad I did because a few events on the day spurred me on to do well, and somehow I managed to beat defending Champ Jason Keith (still suffering from his fall two weeks earlier, to be fair to him) to force a run-off for third place with Dan Redshaw for the second year running. I won the toss and after a long thoughtful pause chose grid two, putting Dan on four. The pause came about when I couldn't make my mind up whether or not to give him the inside advantage or make him work for the win he'd surely get. Anyway, the race panned out similarly to my clash with Jason and Dan couldn't find a way past me. Another magnificent trophy for 12 months (which I've decided to become perpetual sponsor of) but more importantly another NRC rostrum to put yet another memorable cap on probably my best or at least most fulfilling year in the Sport.

My record in 2015:

Euro-Vets - lost my 2014 Over 50s 3rd place, down to 6th

Euro-Vets - lost my 2014 Over 60s Championship, down to 3rd

British Vets Club bronze medallist

World Vets Individual top Over 60 rider

TLI British Vets Individual Over 60s bronze medallist

NRC/TK Trophy bronze medallist 

Looks like 3 is my favourite number!

Except that my "Cycle Speedway Son" Gavin Parr {well, he calls me his CS dad!} has put even more icing on my cake by having a fabulous season, see his Skipper's Blog!

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Serious racing all done for the year but Wednesday 4th November saw us take on our second group of students at Cramlington High School, 19 loud young Year 8 lads, hoping to find at least one new recruit amongst them. All good stuff, still loving it. Only sad event is the recent news that my great Veteran racing pal Mick Aris of Wednesfield has decided to retire so it won't be quite the same in the Old Man's Pits without him.

End of 2015

I spent the last few months of the season hobbling a bit after my right hip joint began to clang while riding the bike. Several visits to the Docs and some investigative work, together with X-rays resulted in "pain relief" being the answer to "some wear in both hip joints". That left me still falling over in agony several times a week but it looks like no replacement plans yet! Strangely enough this had absolutely NO effect on my racing at all, which I still find incredible, as did those who heard the thing banging when I demonstrated it to them. Roll on 2016.