Viking's Riders relate their Short Track Racing

("Cycle Speedway" as was) Life Stories (well, one of them does!).

I thought I'd take this opportunity to drone on for a while about my life as a Short Track Rider, so click away now to prevent yawns and groans as this page travels a really l - o - n - g way down.

There was only one lad in my class at Heaton Grammar School, Newcastle who knew what Speedway was apart from me in our Football/Rugby/Cricket fixated peerdom. He was called Rob, a nice lad. We went to Brough Park together in the 1966 season and both had huge "cowhorn" handlebars on our day-to-day transport which caused havoc at the school bike sheds because we took up six spaces for our two bikes. Mine were actually Speedway Bike handlebars from old 1960s Diamonds Captain, Don Wilkinson. I used to get the odd trinket as Daddy was Track Manager at the stadium. I actually had an ex-Brian Brett breastplate and later ones from Peter Kelly and Allan Butterfield, unfortunately long since lost. But I digress, now where was I...?

It was Rob that came with me around Easter time 1967 to have a mosey at the action at Monkchester Recreation Park (the "Rec") in Walker, not very far from the Speedway after my Dad had persuaded me to go and take a look. He knew all the riders as they were all Speedway supporters. I lived on Fairways Estate at Benton in the East End and rode over to Rob's just off Westbourne Avenue in Walker about 3 miles away before we continued up to Monkchester.

We parked ourselves in the little cut that was one of three entries to Burnham Park (it's posh name), hidden by the bushes and the Community Hall directly in front of the path. We could see there were a dozen or more lads riding around what looked like grass to us. Our attention was drawn to one of them as you couldn't miss him really - he was covered in white from head to foot! He also had a white scarf, neckerchief or bandanna around his neck that was floating in the breeze as he went up and down each straight. And he had cowhorns! (but he was the only one who did).

We were there for about 20 minutes, being careful not to be spotted by anyone. Eventually we looked at each other and both agreed that if we couldn't beat these lads, especially the one in white, we were sissies! Finally, we plucked up the courage and drifted over to the track, which we could now see was nothing more than a bare earth oval simply worn down by the bike tyres and surrounded and centred by tatty, unkempt grass. It sloped slightly up to the top, west end of the field that we had entered from, the Monkchester Road end, so was running east-west. We didn't know what to expect, or what a Short Track track should look like, so it seemed awesome to us both. We had no idea what the size was compared to other tracks, or even that there were any others, so weren't aware that this one was a titch. I suppose that would stand in my favour whilst getting used to the Sport. Or possibly not?

We were soon approached by one of the lads, then another, and the rest, and got chatting. They let us have a scoot around and after a quite enjoyable half hour the White Man came over and asked me if I fancied racing the very next month (originally I though it was the next weekend but photos have since put me right!) against a team from Halifax! "Er, what, er, yes, I suppose so" I spluttered in disbelief. "But I don't have a proper bike" I chimed in. "Don't worry about that, said White Man pointing at what he'd been riding - a sad looking heap with cowhorns. We arranged a time to turn up and that was that. I couldn't wait to tell the Old Man, so I did, but also mentioned about my lack of racing machinery. The one I was currently using was a 16 inch frame with 24 inch wheels and Roadie gearing (46-18). "Divint worry, nee problem" he replied, "I'll get that sorted, just you turn up".

Well, what an offer, he hadn't even given me a birthday present in the previous ten years so how could I refuse? Came the great day, Rob decided it wasn't for him after all, so instead I took Keith Robson, one of my old scramble bike buddies (now known of course as Moto Cross) who lived at the bottom of my street in Benton. We made our own way down there on our bikes, very nervously entering the "Rec" and seeing a huge mass of people right around the track! I was ready to back off, being a famously shy kid, but the Father Figure had spotted me. "Get here!". I got there. "This is Jimmy and that's Gordon, and they've got you a bike". Sure enough, there it was - and I have to say it looked mighty impressive. An 18 inch metallic red touring frame with immaculate, original paintwork and 26 inch wheels shod with brand new Avon Skidway Gripster tyres, together with the standard, as I thought, cowhorns - though not huge things. I couldn't believe it. Looks like I was in!

I straddled the bike very tentatively and paddled it around the field for a few minutes to get the feel of it, but before I knew it I was being hailed into the "pits" with the other riders. The top of the field was the pits. And yes, it was the pits!  "Jimmy" turned out to be Jim Hewitson and little did anyone know but he was about to etch his place in Short Track history a few weeks later by attacking a Halifax rider with a brick, henceforth ensuring everyone knew him as "Jim the Brick". Looking at the original match programme now, that would have been either Heat Four and the Halifax rider avoiding being turned into part of a house would be a Mr Kirkroyal, Boothtown Rapiers' Number 7 reserve, or else Heat Ten with their D Woodward excluded and Jimmy and I picking up a 3-3:

terryvwestvale1968heat10 600

I'm on a borrowed bike here, proper Canadian Bends! It must have been this race where Jimmy lost his cool - so I'd assume that this was the first staging of it and the lad at the back must have ploughed into him.

I also discovered that my bike had been assembled by Jimmy and his good mate, the one-and-only Ivan Mauger's mechanic Gordon Stobbs as a favour to my dad. Probably ensured their free entry to Brough for the next 7 years! I bet there aren't many who can claim the builder of this:

terryk1967vhalifax600

also built this: (just kidding Gordon, mate!).

Ivan Mauger

****NOTE! Gordon was at our Cramlington track today, Saturday 20th September 2014 to watch our Euro-Vets meeting and swears he can't remember building my bike!

It wasn't long before George Grant, the Club Secretary, had me signing a licence; something he placed great importance on and valued highly and it wouldn't be too long before I discovered why it was so coveted.

terrys1stNDCSClicence600

Anyway, just over a month after joining the Club, my big-time début arrived - Newcastle "Stars" versus Boothtown "Rapiers" and Newcastle "Vikings" v West Vale "Wolves" at Monkchester. As was now the norm, Keith and I rode down to Walker but now, with somewhat less trepidation than our first attendances, just merged with the throng of riders and supporters around the "Rec". I took my jacket off to reveal my George Taylor lookalike hooped shirt and the NCSC Vikings badge my Grandma had rapidly stitched on the arm after I'd insisted I had to look right on this auspicious occasion!

But I wasn't exactly on fire that day in my first ever "real" meeting, and only scored when nobody ran in behind me after a first heat fall shook my confidence. My mate Keith had similar luck at reserve. However, on a track that measured at most 65 yards (no, not metres, YARDS - the somewhat more anorexic Imperial version of a long footstep) with extremely tight bends, and riding a bike assembled by, shall we say not the best or most clued-up riders in the Newcastle Club (Slick Jim & Stobbsy had built it OK but stuck on an extremely lethargic gearing - it was 40-20 on the donkey with junior cranks, 150 mm!) then I reckon my début on Sunday, 25th June 1967 wasn't a total disaster. The President of Brazil died on this day, but participating in my new found hobby, which was to be life-changing, was a much more significant event, though not reported worldwide!

I was famously dead shy but eventually started mingling with some of the other lads when I crept very slightly out of my shell over time, and rapidly realised I needed to fettle the infernal machine as a first step to greatness. Taking advice from Mick Dobson and George Taylor, who I think both spotted some immediate potential in me, I made it my business to get the handlebars and gearing changed very quickly, in fact for the next race day. That got me on a level footing with the better riders mechanically, and it was only weeks before I had the beating of all of the local established "second strings". A few practice gating sessions with George and time spent studying him, Ges Atkinson and Jimmy Graham who were easily the best gaters there (apart from Ray Turner who I didn't rate a great gater as he had the mechanical advantage of always using "4 under" thus accelerating virtually twice as fast as the rest of us - we always joked he had no male undercarriage to allow him to spin the pedals so quickly!) had me well up to speed inside a few months. No way could I get a decent start off my right foot though, no matter how loud the advisory voices yelled at me. But I was definitely in now!

Traitor!

By the time the 1967 summer season ended with Local league racing the mainstay and a few more decent Challenge matches under my belt I was already an established Heat Leader. Being the new boy there was stuff going on in the background that I had no inkling of, but I knew I wanted to race at a higher level now. So it was relatively easy for Mike Dobson to persuade me to join him at South Shields and desert my Home Town club. I recall this didn't go down too well at all (and why Licences were so valued) and I think my new best buddy George and I may have fallen out over it as he was happy to stick with the Toon. So we both were seafaring folk: George a Viking and I had now become a Trow Lea "Mariner"! Of course I wasn't the first, or the last to do this. I think Ray was first, then Frank Auffret. Jim Graham followed me after a while and then Eddie Murray and another mate of mine from Benton Mickey Noutch also followed suit.

terrys1stSS1967licence600

If you look at the dates on both licences you'll notice quite a small gap between them, just less than three months. That's how long it took me to realise where my bread was buttered! However, I don't think I saw out the full term of the Shields licence either before hauling my arse back to the Toon and I've a feeling that this was due to Mickey Dobson heading down to London for work - may have been Les Gustafson aswell. The Newcastle management team of George Grant, Jackie Hiscock and the rest were extremely displeased at our desertion and threatened all sorts of things should we ever try to ride at Newcastle again! It took a while for the fuss to die down. I remember on my return Jackie began calling me "Ted" rather than Terry, and I'm sure this was his way of maintaining his discreet angst against me for deserting to Shields.

Initially before I got my first car, our little Newcastle-based squad used to cycle over to ride on the racy new Shields track at Temple Park, To me it was both terrible and awesome at the same time! The thing was sat half inside a natural bowl so one bend was nicely banked up. The other end, however, was nicely banked DOWN, off-camber and tricky to negotiate. And one straight was distinctly and visibly lower than t'other so you climbed a hill into the fourth bend and flew down one into the second. And that bl@@dy starting gate! The dozy effers who built it used tarmac, which would have been fine but they were the last of the Council workers on site after the beautiful red shale surface had been laid (well, it was red ash, a wee bit lumpier than your average Finest Warwickshire Red and perhaps not so "beautiful"!).

Consequently, the Friday Afternooners (whatever day it was, these lads were definitely Friday folk!) decided against the laborious task of digging out a trough for the black stuff and just dumped it on top! I kid you not, it was like hitting a kerb at 25 miles an hour, such was the severity of the sloping front of the tarmac. So ideally you'd have to haul up on your handlebars on the approach and lift the bike over the severe step! If you were engaged in hot pursuit or manic defence at the time and forgot about the ramp, it would throw you off-course nicely and present your challenger with a great passing opportunity into the first bend.

I can only remember having two big matches on it against tough opposition. Of course I exclude the visit of Newcastle who ran us very close! One was Scottish Rangers (Edinburgh) and the other Stradbroke Arrows (Sheffield) for whom the Fordham Brothers, Eddie 19 and Gary 13 (!) were building a reputation to rival Cockroft and Dangerfield (Halifax), Garnett and Hinchcliffe (Manchester) and Ellis and Walsh (Birmingham) as a pairing to be feared. Both matches resulted in heavy defeats for us. That track disappeared under the new Temple Park Leisure Centre about ten years after we stopped using it, that being when Les moved south and Ray and Mike both disappeared from the scene, we assumed through working away.

Rozzers!

We'd return after the match by Tyne Pedestrian Tunnel or the Shields Ferry which dropped us off nicely at the bottom of the steep bank up to the Hot & Cold Drinks Shop in North Shields. This fabulous little corner shop could serve you any-flavour-you-like drink or iced cream, and I mean ANY! That sugar (or alky in some cases!) kick gave us the energy needed to skedaddle back to our various abodes throughout Newcastle and avoid the Constabulary who had nowt better to do than stop us for having no brakes. Actually most of us finally cottoned on and used to hang a front brake on temporarily, as that was all the Officeurs of the Lur demanded.

Here's my racing shirt shown while I was hovering in the pits at the 1968 Newcastle Rider's Final:

TerrybadgesNRC TOC1968Final

From bottom left, clockwise: GB flag (fiercely patriotic!), NACSA, Eastfield Eagles (even more fiercely proud), Newcastle Speedway Supporters Club, East of Scotland CSA. As you can see, or rather CAN'T see, my proudest possession of all - my Newcastle Vikings badge - isn't there. And that's because I'd deserted for South Shields at this time and taken it off my shirt, shame on me! However, it wasn't too long before I, and in fact all of us, were back in the Vikings fold again. Here's the same shirt, same season, same track but now resplendent with Vikings identity on left shoulder! And yes, that white-clad gent was just behind me here.

1969terryvshields1 460

I'll never forget that painful run-off for the '68 NRC with defending Champion Frank Auffret and Jim Graham. At least I put my shirt on the podium for the first time but the second step should have been the top one after I'd blitzed the pair of them, possibly the undisputed top two at the time, for over three laps before I caved in and allowed Jimmy past me. Bu@@er! But I was still the New Boy and I'd have my time. Actually, Eddie Murray was the real new boy now but there were just the two of us during this phase of NCSC operations who made elite Heat Leader status.

During these formative years in my CS "career" I absolutely drooled over the prospect of racing at exotic places like Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and the rest. It wasn't long before I could do that, actually 3 weeks after my 17th birthday when I passed my driving test, and for my birthday was given my first car by my Step-dad, pictures elsewhere on here. That released me into the Wild and from that day the poor overworked little motor had bikes strapped onto every corner of it's body and a vast menagerie of almost human beings wedged inside as we trekked over the Border and over the Pennines with what seemed like exciting regularity, riding for both South Shields and Newcastle. It was great! I'd spend all of my wages, after paying my board money at home to my Grandma, on petrol at about thirty pence a gallon (about 5 litres) in today's money! So two pounds fifty got the tank filled and off we went looking for tracks! Well, not quite - not at about 22 miles to the gallon - I still had to live!

One of the most memorable trips of the Sixties was the one we made to take on Kingstanding Monarchs at their Perry Bar, Birmingham track. This would have been instigated either by Middlesbrough's Frank Auffret or the South Shields Mike Dobson/Les Gustafson duo. Although we got murdered by the one and only Roger Ellis and his cronies (cor, they weren't taking any chances by picking a weak side to take on the unknown Geordies, were they?), and even though our Transit minivan with Ernie Kirkup driving broke down on the old A1 at The Angel Cafe, Doncaster on the way home, and even though none of us got any sleep that night, and didn't get back to Newcastle until the wee hours of Monday morning, and even though we didn't see our beloved bikes for a few days after that, it was a fantastic experience.

***footnote - It is now Saturday 5th September 2015 and I'm talking about the early days in the pits at Edinburgh (Redbraes Park) with my new-era Euro-Vets cronies from the Midlands, and lo and behold my great pal Mick Aris, now famously of Wednesfield Aces, actually rode in this one against us for his first club, Kingstanding Monarchs, and claims he got his first maximum against the Geordies!

But the weirdest thing of all is that you can probably find a VERY similar tale on any of the current Short Track Club history sites, especially the Scottish ones! Seems as we all pursued the same line of gratification, we all suffered a similar fate at one time or another. I suppose the further we had to travel, the greater the risk of calamity or great adventures along the way. In the autumn of 1968 we started building the original track at Eastfield, small but perfectly proportioned, we humped the black ash from the nearby park keeper's garden and had the thing constructed in a month, about six regular hands and a few occasional helpers. Eastfield was to remain our Ancestral Home with a couple of track rebuilds along the way and a spell back at Fawdon until the whole thing died, permanently (or so we thought!) in 1992.

As if I haven't had enough bikes to tell you about, Dear Reader, there's one other I'd like to add, for no other reason than to prove my crazy biking heritage. So here's a pic of my Daddy around 1970 hauling our beloved JAP 500 around Brough Park where he did a few seasons of second halfing:

pic coming soon... 

When it got to my turn to try the engine-driven variety I spent my very early (from 4:30 am!) winter Sunday mornings raking the thing around Druridge Bay for a few years (short-stroke JAP motor), long-time practice haunt of the old Diamonds riders where I was taken by the old man around 1960 ish to mingle with the likes of Don Wilkinson, Gil Goldfinch et al. The worst damage you could suffer there was drowning but as I feared water more than Death itself I stayed well away from the waves. I could get a full "broadside" on around the wide open spaces with the throttle twisted back hard, but my one and only excursion onto a real track, some years later at Berwick's Shielfield Park proved a non-event, and also proved how much of a chicken I was.

From the start none of us could have dreamed we'd have some of the World's top teams and riders competing against us, either at their grounds or here in Newcastle & District on our own. And how many 15/16/17 year old kids ever get the chance to represent their Cities at their chosen sport? We have indeed been blessed, but I think it's only now in our later years that we've come to realise and appreciate it fully. Other very memorable and enjoyable meetings we took part in were the 1969 Manchester 21st Anniversary Weekend at Carrswood and Offerton, the same sort of gig in Glasgow later that same year and several great weekends in Sheffield following the friendships George Taylor had struck up with two of the Parkwood riders. Here's a program from 1969. Although Jim Graham is missing, how about this for solid scoring? No wonder we could all beat each other on our day. Pic from Keith Dyer but originally someone else!

hamp v new prog69 600

After a very short life in 1970 when all our dreams were about to be fulfilled by potentially winning a Regional league title for the first time my beloved Sport ceased to exist north of Hull and I was forced to resort to playing with cars as a hobby. I'd kept in touch with Colin Grant and we built and modified a whole crop of old bangers for the next few years including a rally car that never saw an event until he deserted me for a girl! At least he had the good sense to marry her. It was truly devastating to have to stop doing what you loved and at 20 just when you felt you were reaching the peak of your performance. Ouch. Bollox.


Knock, knock! The Seventies Pass Quickly...

I was last to succumb to married life and was busy setting up a new home with Janet in Wallsend on Tyne. I was still living at my Grandma's in Benton and was sat at home one boring suburban evening minding my own business while rubbing baby oil into Janet's lissome lower spinal areas -oh sorry, stop that - when there was a knock on the door. When I opened it I had to rub my eyes instead to make sure I wasn't dreaming. Cor, that baby oil sure does sting! Who should be standing on my doorstep with grins a mile wide, completely out of the blue - none other than ex-racers Ashie Patterson and Mick Hoult! (Ash reckons this took place at my Grandma's in Benton - same result).

I was gob-smacked, and not really sure I wasn't dreaming. They "invited" me to restart Short Track with them, so how could I refuse? I didn't expect a second coming for my soul passion in life but jumped at the chance. At 28 I wasn't sure if it would be too late for me, but I think I justified the comeback a few years on. Little did I know that just a quarter mile from my front door, right on the Newcastle/Wallsend border on my old stamping ground, these two had been mucking around with a squad of lads led by Dave Armstrong. They had all met at or through the Speedway at Brough Park and started using my lovely but sadly long-neglected little old Eastfield track to play speedway on, as well as the rough one they had up on the Old Coast Road known as Tinker's Turn at Benton (below).

fredspix 96

Unfortunately, "playing speedway" was exactly what they were doing. Of course, Ash and Mick were not the least bit impressed but wanted back in on the action, so had other, slightly more mature ideas for the track, and bikes with brakes, mudguards, lights and the faithful old cowhorns weren't included in their strategy. That's why they dragged me out of my enforced retirement (no dragging required - I leapt at the chance).

So it was that we started all over again on our Second Phase of NCSC participation. That year we mucked about locally and had a few Challenge matches against our faithful old mates from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Hull as Dave's "Tynesiders", then at the end of season AGM there was a bust-up at Roy Clarke's house and Dave walked out (into a cupboard first which was side-splitting to witness, then back out and out of the house!), defeated by the two Fawdon revivalists, some new found allies in Fred Mitchell's Benton squad and common sense. The Newcastle "Rebels" were born, and appropriately named. Super-keen Dave, however, would rejoin us later and produce some great performances for the Rebels.

Thus began our hectic journey out of the Seventies, into the Eighties with two superb council-built tracks, first at Fawdon and then back at Eastfield then through to the early Nineties, and with it the whole fantastic episode that saw us climb from minnows in the geographically challenged dregs of CS to Regional stardom as a Winning Team, and beyond that with a couple of special individual performances right at the end, but of course this is supposed to be my story, so let's have yours.

Below - I win the 1980 Newcastle Riders Final, the "Newcastle 900 Trophy" at Fawdon celebrating the City's 900th birthday, with Stuart Craig runner-up. The reason you can see through Stu's chainwheel and not mine, is that I was then using a modified Bicycle Polo chainset with a 28 tooth ring, and a 16 tooth freewheel for 2-under. My chain was also thicker than anyone else's, 1/2" by 3/8" from a moped as I kept snapping both standard 1/2" by 1/8" and heavy duty 1/2" by 3/16" chains. When Union pedals came along they were a Godsend as I also kept snapping Raleigh pedal shafts! Bottom bracket spindles only lasted me a few months before they twisted too badly to use any more. You may also notice the reversed handlebar stem for swifter gating and twitchier steering. I dumped that after half a season. (Actually Stu is sat on Fred Mitchell's immaculate Ace Cycles bike). I also won the NRC title in 1978 and 1983 although I have definite recollections of winning a 12 man individual in 1970 which at the time was acclaimed as the NRC but ridden with a shortage of riders on the day.

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1980-1990

This was the era when all the previous ground work paid off. With two good tracks and some half decent local league matches to compete in we managed to attract a few batches of rapid youngsters, most but not all through the Speedway connection. Andy Murray, Brian Mills, Paul Marshall, Stewart Craig and Michael Parr joined Fred Mitchell, John Wilson and myself and were eventually moulded into a strong outfit, particularly on home ground but also, memorably,  with some fantastic away performances to match. We found Jason Keith and a few of his mates - Chris Brannon and Andy Crawford - and Gavin Parr had grown considerably taller so we had a great Combination team also which won a championship but somehow Manchester got to share the title after having a poorer points difference - evidence of the typical sniping that went on against us, but hey, we'd really arrived now.

Unfortunately in 1989 and finally in 1991 we were forced to wrap it all up when almost all of these lads found better things to do with their spare time - the usual, girls and beer - and while a handful of us rode for Hull for a year or two that was the end of local racing yet again as the cycle repeated.

1991

Mention of "sniping" above reminds me of the way I was treat in 1990. I'd waited as long as anyone (forty years!) to be old enough to take part in the British Veterans Championship and had been patiently ticking off the days on my calendar. When enrolment time came, my application was rejected by the Cycle Speedway Council which informed me I was "too young" to take part. My 40th birthday was the week before the event, so I have no idea how they could rule me out after being a legitimate candidate, but that's exactly what the b@st@rds did. I therefore had to wait another full year before being allowed to race!

Anyway the venue was Leicester's Slater Street track, one I'd never visited before so it was really exciting, and at this time there was only Michael Parr and me racing, although for me this was a one-off. Mick had signed for Heckmondwike and became one of their best servants, spending ten seasons there, a real accomplishment. The meeting was over-subscribed and so there had to be two semi-finals to decide the 16 finalists. I wasn't too confident looking around the pits with the likes of Derek Garnett, John Watchman,Grant Warwick, Dave Parsons and other great names of our Sport ready to line up with little old me! Anyway, somehow I got through the qualifier and into the final, which felt fantastic in this kind of company. I fell twice in the final from leading positions but still copped 10 points to finish tenth, so I'd lived my Thirty-somethings dream although never had I dreamt of taking part in a real National final.


2005

I still don't know how this happened but I suspect it was due to little more than a whim by person or persons unknown (Ashie Patterson again, maybe?) but somehow, out of the blue, the Newcastle Mountain Bike Club aka Midaircrisis ended up racing a one-off challenge match at Hull midway through the year. I've a fancy it was to give Ashie and his old pal Mick Hoult a run out before taking part in the British Veterans Championship at Wednesfield a bit later! Fortunately half the team that day was made up of ex-riders so the match was a decent spectacle although Hull won comfortably enough. Sadly Jim Graham didn't take to the track until after the match when he had a few impressive laps, such a shame as he'd have scored decently for us and I could see he regretted it afterwards.

Anyway, that match served its purpose and when Ash asked if I fancied a trot out at Wednesfield I almost reluctantly agreed. So it was that he, Mick Hoult, Jim Graham, Keith Dyer and I all travelled down to the Midlands to sample the delights (again) of Wednesfield's wide open spaces although Jim (yet again - why Jimmy?) and Keith were there as spectators. Once again a big entry meant a pre-final shakedown for places, and while Mick and Ash found the going tough, I managed to avoid most of the puddles on a very wet track and qualify for my second final in two attempts, and that felt good enough. Just as well really, as once again the Sport's top Vets were present to lead the way as the track and us riders began to dry out.

This time, a 14 year gap in my racing experience made ten races in one day at a track as big as Wednesfield extremely hard for me and I got one point less than in 1991, but the experience was well worth it for the memories, and in particular as at the end of the racing I got to pose with my Short Track hero, the one and only Derek Garnett who was also spectating at this one.

derekterry

2012

So here we are now, it is a cloudless, breezy Wednesday morning, 16th of May 2012 as I sit here adding a fresh bit to my story.

That's cool.

It's just struck me now how extremely lucky I am to be in my current situation. I'm racing in the same team as Newcastle's best rider of the 1960s and one of my first track heroes, Jimmy Graham. I have a reasonable claim to have been their best rider in the 1970s. I am racing in the same team as Michael Parr, our best rider of the 1980s, and his little (!) brother Gavin, our best rider of the 1990s (Mick may disagree!). All four of us are past Newcastle Champions. We've won our first two Veterans comeback matches. I've won a few races. Absolute bliss. Incredible. I love this.

Now that's Really Cool! (for an old fart).

T for Terry, T for Trouble! Saturday 9th June 2012 and our second of 1990's Secretary and racer Neil Magee's Grand Prix meetings at Cramlington. Heat 16 and John Wilson runs into Jason Keith and drops his bike. Terry has nowhere to go other than straight over the fallen machine and comes down with a crunch - result, one broken right thumb! Serves me right, shouldn't have been that close. Surely all that stuff is behind me now? Not! July 13th before the hospital decides whether or not to take the plaster cast off, bummer. I managed to come second in the re-run beating Jason, in a wee bit of pain, and also went on to defeat Michael Parr in my last race to win the GP! What broken thumb? Over ten years of nasty, high speed mountain biking accidents has taught me to get up, stop crying and just get on with it.

What pain?

I'm back again. It's Monday night, 25th June 2012. Out of the corner of my eye I can see Eastbourne just edging Lakeside in an Elite League Speedway match on Sky Sports. But most of my attention is here, recounting our latest adventures after winning at Edinburgh and Astley & Tyldesley in May, then losing narrowly to Hull. After those team meetings, Gavin finished a glorious second in the British Veterans Over 40s Final and I finished fourth in the Over 60s, both at Wolverhampton's massive East Park circuit, at 95 metres the biggest in the country and probably the wettest but it didn't hurt me a bit! If I hadn't kept slipping at the gate due to my excessive angle of lean compared to the angle of the track (I'm a left foot gater you see, and the track leans the other way!), who knows? Jason Keith and Jim Graham also took part in each Final respectively. Ashie did the Over 50s at Birmingham and Fred's done the Euro Vets at Hull and intends to do a few more. Wowee!

********* ********* ********* ********* ********* *********

It's 12th August and I'm back racing and we've won away again, this time at Bury. I stayed on outside grids all day and managed to pass most of my opponents around their outside to produce a very satisfying second top score, dropping a single point to home star Steven Whittaker which feels absolutely great.

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A week later and we're at Wednesfield for a friendly challenge match where we are almost totally outclassed apart from Gavin, Jason and guest Garry Pearce who kept our score respectable. Just couldn't get to grips here and only scored 6 from four rides. Not ideal hurtling down from the Lake District, diving straight out of the van into heat one after a very tortuous drive and surviving a scary car crash at the start of the trip!

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Then the day before yesterday we lost again narrowly down at Sheffield's Cookson Park track, a little beauty with Jason Burke as a guest, thanks to Gavin Parr gently "forcing" Jay out of retirement! Details of all these are elsewhere so I won't prolong the agony, but as this is My Story it should all be in here because I'm just loving this, even being relegated to spectator until I can grip the handlebars again. I finally get back into racing on 14th July so only missed 4 weekends.

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A bit later now and we've been back to Sheffield, this time to their Graves Tennis Centre track (aka Rowlinson Sports Centre as it was when I first rode there) on 30th September. We lost once more but had another great day and I was pretty happy with my form there.

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Next up I really surprised myself, and probably a few other folk, by finishing third in the eagerly anticipated resurrection of the NRC, the Newcastle Rider's Championship at Crammy. We made the track look great for the day and even attracted a few onlookers. Gavin won with Jason second, see result elsewhere on here. Strangely, I felt as if I could ride all day on this occasion and was able to maintain the fast lad's pace easily. Not sure if the latest bike mod helped - fitting MTB wheels with Maxxis Larsen tyres, seemed much grippier than the Schwalbe CS tyres do and I had no qualms about throwing the bike hard into the turns. Probably the highlight of my own revival, although one more point at the Vets in Wolverhampton would have given me a National rostrum. Pretty sure I could have done more with these tyres on back then!

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Our final away match of the year, and we raced at Edinburgh on 28th October again, taking on a much stronger squad than their last, and somehow we sneaked a win. Gavin fell in his first race which cost him dearly, allowing Jason to top score for once, but who was next best? - little ol' me! Every ride hurt but I felt pretty good during most of my ten races over two matches, both at crappy number four. I really didn't expect to be able to ride as quickly as I am now, and I've even invested in a bit more kit, some nice home brew MTB wheels for either the standard steel Archie Wilkinson bike or my Specialized Rockhopper experimental alloy frame. Seems worth the expense and the effort of building the wheels even if the improvement is only mental.

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It's a few weeks since my last update, but here I am again to talk about two more meetings we had. the first, an extremely historic and for us crucially important HOME MATCH against SHEFFIELD! Yes indeed, Rob Mawhood had threatened to come up to Crammy when we were down there and stayed true to his word, really catching me off guard as I'd thought, without a track, "no way!".

But they came here with a very young side and were beaten in another very sporting contest in which I managed again to hit a big score comfortably, even to the extent of deliberately easing down in two races to bring the visitor's score up a bit as we were looking a bit strong and there was a big audience watching. I wanted it to look good and close for their benefit so I did my bit. Unfortunately I was alone in that until Norman sportingly did the same in match two. However, this had to be the single biggest event of our entire comeback.

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Only one official home match remaining now with the decision to scrap the "Devil take the Hindmost" event due later. And this was the final, fifth and deciding round of the Nomads Grand Prix Series. Like most of our preconceived 2012 meetings this was again conjured up by Neil, doing a great job thinking up ways to maintain interest, and the result hinged on the last of the five meetings, and potentially the final race of our "official" year!

After being "advised" by Gavin in no uncertain terms that I should stick to my new Archie Wilkinson bike to maintain my half decent performance level, I decided that my experimental MTB conversion; the little, highly modified Specialized Rockhopper, would suffice for today as I had no chance of claiming a prize after a disastrous third round. I had fitted mountain bike wheels and the apparently supreme Maxxis Larsen tyres I was well suited to from my MTB bikes to it and it really felt pretty good, as well as a good bit lighter (actually, tons!) than the steel framed Archie.

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My first race saw both overall favourites, John and Jason lining up with me, so I didn't expect to do much, but after Jay had taken advantage when I slipped a pedal, I still managed to keep John at bay so not a bad start. I then had Gavin inside me for a foregone conclusion although I gave him a little go. Two second places were added to by two wins although Ashie stole what was left of my legs in the second one by leading for the first few laps and Michael gave me no chance in my final race.

Anyway 17 points was extremely satisfying, especially after the bike switch so I was dead chuffed. However, I didn't know I'd finished fourth in the scoring and so qualified for the Super Prix which saw the series winner, the highest scorer and the next two down the pecking order take to the track again for a sixth time! Now I've never been great at staying fast for six races, not as a rule. But with the draw presenting me with a gate two it would have been a crime not to give it a good go, so I did.

Once again Jason was supreme away from the inside on his new Polish Mielec and gone, but I managed to keep a decent pace ahead of Mick and Gav who were a bit slower out of the traps. When Gavin saw Jason pulling a gap on me, he decided to strike at the end of lap two with one of his famous dives to the inside line. If he'd succeeded I would have been lying in a heap on the Astroturf fifty metres away but as luck would have it, Mick had got himself in the way and with Gavin chopping across him, he came down. He must have touched Gav's back wheel as the Skipper also skidded to a halt outside the pits gate. That left the Ref no option but to exclude Gavin, so Lady Luck was smiling on me today, just a wee bit.

So, well out of the frame looking at the overall series scorers, but I did manage to win three of the GPs (GP2 and GP5 and equal top in GP4 after 1980s racer Andy Murray's "win" due to false handicapping was rescinded) and ended my season by beating Gavin and Mick in the same race! Not bad, and although they both fell in that GP5 Finale that's exactly how it'll look on paper in 45 year's time when I'll be 107!

I've arrived! That's my story up to date as at 17th November 2012. Except that we now have an ace professional photographer, Steve Brock helping us out with some very influential contacts. He's doing all he can to help us publicise the fact we need a proper track. So I'm a very happy bunny. That's not all though, as this couldn't have happened without the rest of the Club members so I'd like to add a thought or five on the rest of my old cronies, and new ones, but I'll stick that on the end of the GP5 match report.

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2013

We zoom along the Viking's Timeline now to 4th May 2013, and this beautiful (if a little windy!) Saturday afternoon sees the Cramlington outfit stage Round Two of the national Orchid Euro Vets Grand Prix Series, the first having been run by the Leicester Club a few weeks earlier with no Vikings taking part. This has categories for Over 40s, 50s and 60s. Today's fixture, however, saw the home club take full advantage of geography with a whole raft of Vikings joining in the fun to try and grab a few series points. You'll find the overall story on the Home Matches page so I'll restrict this short piece to my day, as it's my page!

There was frantic activity at the Sporting Club from just after 10:00 am when we started gathering to lick the place into shape for staging a prestige meeting. We then had a few moments to collect ourselves before taking to the track, and with the Over 40 contest being first up, Yours Truly thought he could have a nice rest, a wee snack and get mentally prepared for the Over50/60 combined match afterwards. That didn't work too well, as the lower than expected turnout had meeting and series organiser, an old adversary of mine Halifax's Fred Rothwell, seeking an Elder willing to double up to help fill the Over 40s grid! So that saw me stepping forward to volunteer for a few extra rides, not the ideal preparation for the battle to come!

Anyway, I managed to finish my five rides, staying out of the way until my second grid one in a row when I could hardly fail to finish first. I suppose it was good to get the legs going but it didn't feel that way. Soon after the end of the Over 40s it was time for Ashie Patterson, Jim Graham, Norman Carson and myself to race. With a combination of good starts, favourable gates and missing riders I managed to win my first three rides, which resulted in the unbeaten Paul Timms, Joe McLaughlin and myself clashing in heat 15 with Steve Hodgkinson who'd only dropped one point! Right from tapes up, Joe had only one thing on his mind, to keep me mid-track or wider and make that do, so although I managed to keep Steve behind me, I couldn't summon up enough energy to burn around Joe and that was that.

I then had to face the flying Steve Woodroof in the final heat from grid 4, but the earlier rides in the Over 40s were now starting to leave their mark on my fast-ebbing energy so it was a second place only to give me a total of 17 points. However, that was plenty enough to not only cement my place in the A Final off grid one, but also squeezed me into the Over 50's A Final on four! Thankfully, the Over 60 run-off came first and I nicked the title from Fred, Ashie and evergreen Chick Mackie.

The Over 50s A Final was a bit of an anti-climax for me as I was completely spent by then, my twelfth ride of the day, but the reward for getting there was a second medal, and very nice they are too, so I'm pretty happy to be collecting silverware at this rather late stage in my Short Track"career"! A great day for the Vikings but another memorable one for me.

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A few weeks later and we faced Astley & Tyldesley at home after defeating them narrowly at Gin Pit. This one threw up an unexpected result not just for my beloved Vikings who won 95-55, but for myself also as I managed to grab a maximum, something I never dreamed would happen again after quitting the Sport around 1992! I put this down to home track knowledge and the final, seemingly small tweak to my lovely little Specialized Rockhopper, on which I'd finally caved in and shortened my Chinese forks to the more cycle-speedway sized norm. It sure felt quicker out of the starts and I was first out in three of my four rides, very happy with that performance.

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OBITUARY

It's never nice to lose a loved one, and end a long, loving relationship. However, after my faithful friend, my Peugeot Expert 2 litre HDi Combi had let me down a second time at Wetherby on the way to Heckmondwike, it was time to part company. It had served me well since we met in 2005, and after a loving and very expensive restoration it had become capable of transporting five riders, their camping gear and mountain bikes at well over three figures on any flat stretch of tarmac, thanks to some police mechanic's tweaks! It was hurriedly replaced by a slightly older machine, a 2001 Renault Scenic which is quite a bit more sedate, comfortable and quiet, and should be more protective of my driving licence. Got a super new 4-bike rack for it and fitted a tow-bar in early July 2013, it's first trip away being the Northern League Individuals at Graves Tennis Centre, Sheffield on 7th July.

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Well, we've had a brilliant half season of Northern League racing and notched up an amazing five wins, the division two side also doing very well. Gav won his second Euro Vets title at Sheffield and Jay won the B Final, while Ash did superbly for 2nd place in his new class, the Over 60s. So we're really on a high and approaching new track build time.

So what does Terence go and do? You guessed it, he falls off! We were only at heat 2 of the Cramlington Crown Individual on 13th July when improving novice Andy Amos-Adams tips off right in front of Yours Truly leaving me no time to react. Result - one broken metacarpal on the left forefinger and a fractured wrist bone, possibly needing an operation to repair! It's Summer again! No Euro Vets at Sandwell or Edinburgh, No Veterans Team Championship at Norwich. No week's MTB holiday in Wales either. I LOVE Short Track. Duh!

At least I found some free time instead of helping Jason out with his workload and made use of it sorting out my programme collection and getting our stall ready for the Newcastle Sky Ride on Saturday 27th July at the Quayside. Not too easy cleaning my little Specialized CS bike for the display with one hand though. The day went off reasonably well and I had company from some of the members for most of it, but although we made few rider contacts, we must get used to doing this sort of thing now whenever we are offered the opportunity. I had a 4 foot by 2 foot banner made for the stall and it looked pretty good with some other posters and leaflets scattered around, and a few shirts hanging up. However, Sir Chris Hoy rode straight past on his silly roadie bicycle without any acknowledgement!

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Thursday 15th August, and I'm so fed up being sidelined that the temptation to join in the evening mountain bike ride is overpowering, so I do, and it goes pretty well with no damage done - great!

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Saturday 17th and I head up to Edinburgh for the Orchid Euro vets Round 6, again determined to ride and doing so. I take it extremely carefully through the 5 programmed rides, not trying to gate but gradually pulling a tiny bit harder, and it all feels fine as I cruise around at the back to finish lowest scorer on 10 points. I then join Smithy and Keith spectating on the first bend for the repêchage races and finals, to take some photos. Then Ashie shouts over from the pits "Terry, you're in this one!". I was a bit stunned here, but was only called because of the low number of Over 60s. Anyway there was only Ashie, Chic and myself in it so I thought, 'bollocks, I'm gonna try a decent start' and I got a pretty good one over Ash on my inside to romp away and win the "B" Final. The main reason for giving it some attack this time was that I knew I'd be needed against Stockport at Cramlington the next day, so had to see what it would feel like. And surprisingly I got away with it, it felt fine and I didn't squeal leaving the gate, so things are looking good!

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Sunday 18th August looms, with the appearance of Stockport on our temporary track, and all I have on my mind is staying away from trouble and completing my rides. I'm at number two with Mick Parr but can't support him against the rampant young visitors. However, his efforts and those of Gavin, Jason and the others see an amazing match remain within one point until the penultimate race when Stockport struck! They were slightly weakened themselves but even so this is Vets against superstars and we did amazingly well. Best thing for me though was coming through the match unscathed and feeling pretty good, no problems with the left hand at all.

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THEN!

I wake up almost screaming in agony in the middle of Monday morning, with intense shooting pains up and down my left arm from finger tip to elbow. Oh heck! Looks like I did indeed overdo things, or probably simply come back to the bikes too soon. Couldn't help it though as I was going stir-fried sitting around idle for five weeks, and all I could think about was last year's similar disaster with the other hand, missing the best summer rides in both my chosen sports. I'm scribbling this now with my Welsh mountain bike week looming on Saturday 24th August and getting a wee bit concerned it ain't going to happen. I'll be gutted if I can't go after three years waiting since the last one, but at the moment (Wednesday 21st) I'm no bike rider.

{ It didn't happen, crap, crap, crap.}

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Slow September? The middle of August saw a mystery bug creep into my system, and everything just got slower and more difficult. This was nothing to do with the hand injury but something internal. I was utter rubbish at Bury on 15th and let the team down badly but just couldn't hack it. I felt extremely lethargic, started nodding in front of the telly which I've never done before, much to Janet's indignation, and just found it hard even standing up. Energy levels were at floor level and on the bike it became harder and harder to do four laps, even slowly. Eventually I took Mrs K's advice (orders) and visited my physician. There followed a blood sample session and chest X-rays to try and pinpoint the problem. Although I managed a few quicker laps at East London on 29th September in the Euro Vets I couldn't maintain it over the full four and totally collapsed half way through the A Final while leading it. As I write this I'm booked for yet another blood-letting on 7th October and not feeling too much better. Just hope the Doc can explain it all when I finally get the results on 14th.

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'Orrible October! Well, the painful sight of TK trying to finish four laps continued as four of us entered the final round of the Euro Vets at an immaculate, fast Wednesfield on Saturday 5th October. Once again my energy was very limited with just a couple of decently quick laps in a few of my races, but the Brick Wall being hit again and again. Jimmy Graham kept me behind him when we met each other so when we met again in the "B" Final I stood the same treatment for 2 laps until the brain managed to overcome the body and I squeezed past for revenge. Fortunately a great night at the Aces' local Gilbert's Bar munching on chips while watching Tai Woffinden win the Speedway GP title made up somewhat for another hugely disappointing performance.

Next day, after a very entertaining night and morning in lodgings at a haunted hotel in Dudley with Gavin Parr, Jason Keith and Jimmy we cruised northward to meet the rest of the Club members at Bury where we'd switched our home match to because our new track isn't ready yet. Riding at reserve again it was the same old story with everyone giving their all except Number Seven, yours truly, who struggled yet again and only had one decent race over the full four laps. And as it was last time, we only lost a by a couple of points which were the ones I should have been scoring, so another apology is due to my hard-working team-mates.

I'm due at the Doc's to find out the results of all the tests I've had next Monday, 14th October and just praying that she's found something that can explain this long bout of lethargy and maybe get me moving again. That's the League and Vets season over now so the rest of the year is mainly down to our younger riders and I wish them all Good Luck, but hope to be pushing for my team place again come tapes up in 2014.

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Neutralized November! October 14th didn't see the end of the tests as planned and I had an ultrasound scan on 23rd. With a visit to the Doctor on 4th November I hoped that all of my test results would finally show the reason for my sudden loss of energy (I suppose I should call it lack of form as far as CS goes) but alas, no such luck and it remains a mystery. It seems it may be down to an unfound bug or lack of sleep as I'm up a lot to shed water overnight but that's been the case for 9 or 10 years now. Just have to see what an enforced lay-off from Sunday mountain biking does for me, although I miss that as much as Short Track.

Youth Coach Richie Smith ran another of his Under 16 sessions on Saturday 9th November but there was a low turnout with just six riders this time, although they made full use of their time on the new track while I kept my eyes tightly closed so I couldn't see the damage young Jack and Martin were doing to the soft surface!

On a brighter note, Secretary Neil Magee, Chairman Keith Dyer and I attended the Northern League AGM in Bury yesterday (Sunday 10th Nov) with all clubs represented and although there's always a lot of stuff to discuss that we aren't directly involved in, such as the 2014 staging of the British Individual Championships, we did have plenty of input and it's always useful to chat to like minded souls (non-committee members!). We came away with a real prize, that of being awarded the hosting of next year's Northern League Individuals, an event we are determined to carry off big-style and a massive boost for our first year on a new track. I am also trying to strike a deal with the Sheffield Club to permanently acquire their four junior loan bikes, to go with our forthcoming purchase of full size and intermediate models for new riders to play on. Good Speedway quiz on the way home!

A glance at the provisional 2014 fixtures would suggest I'm due to break a wrist around 15th June if the previous two seasons are a template for the rest.

It's 10:25 pm on Monday night, 11th November and I just got home after attending the local BC Go-Ride Volunteer Coordinator course presented by Northern Rep Dan Small at the Premier Inn, Team Valley and what an interesting night it's been. Good to meet another fresh set of like-minded people and some new to their jobs in their respective cycling clubs. One of the tasks in this workshop was to try and place a value on the time I spend doing stuff on behalf of the Club, and then trying to guess what time the Committee members spend, and with a base costing of just £10 per hour, our little Club's volunteers (that's anyone who does stuff for the Vikings for free) I figured the total value to be around £63,000 per year! Not bad value you "ordinary members" are getting for your quid a week then, I reckon!. The real value of the night though, I suppose, was making contact with a few more bicycle organisations and their representatives, you never know, it may do us some good one day.

Now then, what can I do 'til bedtime?

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I hope this isn't turning into a repeat of the Club's history which can be found elsewhere but I don't want to gum up the home page with stuff newcomers don't need to see. That's why I now mention I've met this morning (Wednesday 13th November) with the contractor D&M Fencing who's erected most of the School and Sporting Club's fences over the past few years. We spent three quarters of an hour discussing how best to do the job and like our track builder ALN Construction, this lad knows everything about what he does for a living, and was ready with suggestions to get us over any problems that may arise. When we get his quotation that'll be the time to light Richie's fuse again and set him whizzing off to find the money pronto!

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It's now Wednesday 20th November with Winter looking like it's ready to oust Autumn and a few light snow showers around. Still feeling weird, energy-wise and have now forgotten about any hope of doing my much-loved Sunday mountain bike rides all over the northern UK. Good news is Gavin managed to perfect and tidy up our old Vikings cloth badge logo to use on his next badge of hoodies, and I've given it an additional Northumbrian flag background for the web site and various paperwork. It really does look great and is a really nostalgic item to those of us older who rode in the 1960s. Not so good news is the Doc was on the horn this morning and wants me to do some more blood tests in two months time to try and solve my mystery. Never ending, this seems to be. We're due to hold our first indoor training session on Saturday but I'm not even sure I could get around the sports hall in this condition.

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It is Saturday 23rd November and I've been increasingly worried about the start of our indoor training sessions at the Percy Hedley Sports Academy just a mile up the road from me. Why? Because it's been a while now since my last attempt at racing and I've even given up trying to join my Sunday MTB rides because of this strange lack of oomph I've been suffering. Almost half a year now since I could complete four fast laps so I wasn't even going to take a bike today. Anyway, I'm now glad I did (I scribble this the morning after) as it didn't go too badly. I deliberately held back in my first ride just to see if I could hang on to the bike properly after having real trouble doing the same on my mountain bike lately with loads of very uncharacteristic Thursday night falls. Followed up with a bit more speed and even a couple of wins in this not-too-serious contest between two six-man teams which most folk seemed to enjoy. Although I was gasping and wheezing after every ride it may just have given me a confidence boost. We'll just have to see what happens next weekend as this condition remains a mystery to my personal physician. I know this weeping and wailing is getting really boring now, but all this numbness may be a biggie in my biking history, so it's in here.

Just been instructed by the Doc to make an appointment for even more blood tests in two month's time!

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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 Short Track 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 Short Track 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 Short Track. 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 Short Track 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:

heel

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:

NRCthirds

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 Short Track’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.


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 » 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!

terry1

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.

terry3

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

terry4

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!

terry5

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.

theendisnigh

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

diamond

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.

bronzed

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.

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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.


2016 - here we go again!

Well, 2016 has indeed rolled on and there are a few changes afoot within the Club which affect everyone, including me. First is the bad news that my good friend and long-time CS buddy Alan "Ashie" Patterson was taken ill with a very rare infection around Easter time and is having to undergo a series of Chemotherapy sessions. Unfortunately while he was being treated he deveoped Shingles too, so that was a downer although as I wriote he's doing well with the recovery. Another great friend and indeed constant Euro-Vets companion for the last few years, Jim Graham is suffering from gout over the same period as well as a very painful shoulder which just might have him throwing in the towel this year. That's enough bad news, but I share their pain, I really would love them both back and fighting fit again.

The good news for me at least is that the season has started decently with a couple of good scores in the Northern League although I still find it difficult to get motivated in training matches, preferring to spur on the younger or less experienced rider by giving chase. I also managed to get myself in front of some good riders at Edinburgh, Sheffield and Heckmondwike in our first three away matches if only temporarily. Doing this occasionally keeps my spirits up and keeps me wanting to continue as long as I can compete decently, although I can't see me ever not wanting to ride at all.

Tuesday is normally training/practice match night but Neil Magee chose 19th April to stage our annual Spring Best Pairs to ensure most riders were there. With a little good fortune my partner Keith Oldham and I managed to win the title after I came first in a runoff with Dan Redshaw and Michael Parr, so that felt good as we were easily the oldest combo!

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Once again I've enjoyed a couple of great races in Northern League Division One (I still don't think I'm a Division Two rider yet) and either beaten or ran around in front of Matt Lush, Adam Watson, Jake Slight, Niall Morton and a few other notable youngsters and as long as I can pull the odd one out of the bag I'll stay with it. It could be that I've put a bit more into my mountain biking and that may be helping my current decent form and fitness. On the other hand, it could be down to the way I'm being looked after by my much better half Janet (left-1978, right-2015. Different house, different bike, same wife and health advisor):

 JDonHondaLight300   3rd300

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The Euro-Vets Grand Prix Series seems to be down a few regular members on occasion this year, but so far (up to 5th June) I'm happy to have won the first four rounds in the Over 60s category at Stoke, Glasgow, Poole and Norwich. Glasgow's the only track I'd ridden on before but unfortunately that's where I clashed with new 2016 Over 60 entrant, Joe Mclaughlin of Coventry CSC (Joe's fault, he acknowledges) and his crash put him out of the series for a few months. That's really just left Fred Rothwell and I to chase the OAP award up until June at least. However, I'm also running third in the Over 50s (as I did in 2014) but not sure if that will last with some new fast entries in that class!

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Sunday May 29th saw us go one better than last year in the British Over 40s Club Championship! Absolutely amazing result after the unbelievable third in 2015, but maybe the difference this time was that I pulled my finger out a bit further and scored 12 points in the semi-final, dead happy with that. And with a pretty decent 8 point haul in the Final I think I supported Gavin Parr and Jason Keith pretty well, especially at the immense Wednesfield track, not always a Geordie favourite!

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Track-wise I finally managed to arrange two deliveries of ready-mixed concrete during the school's summer holidays in August to cover the pits floor, a very much needed improvement to the fantastic facilities we now have at Cramlington, and we got two willing squads together to make sure we got it laid before the dreaded setting set in! And I also constructed and erected two more floodlights in the middle of each straight to complete the installation, Jason Keith again helping me with the terminations and testing.

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The Euro-Vets series got back underway after a very long summer break to accommodate the various stages of British Championships and although I missed the round at Underwood (Newport) by choice as the track is too small to race on (and I chose to take a holiday then anyway) I kept winning until the final round at Birmingham when Joe McLaughlin got the better of me as I fell into relaxed mode knowing the Title was already mine. So two Championships in three years is pretty decent for this old has-been but I felt much better about finishing third overall in the Over 50s, again for the second time in three years with some great rides against the younger lads. And for once the reward was extremely nice, a LONG SLEEVED RACING JERSEY, the idea first mooted by Over 40s Champion Craig Marchant and produced by 3318 Designs in Coventry, and very nice it is too. I will wear it with pride (if the track is dry enough!) at the Northumbrian Riders Final in November!

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below - the one and only Kevin Greenhalgh (ex-Blackley superstar) presents me with the Over 60's winner's trophy. Unfortunately last years winner Bob Prince failed to return the perpetual Champions Trophy so I had to make do with just three from the Birmingham meeting.

terryandkevgreenhalgh


 

2017 - it's relentless

February. The new year started late (early March before we could get on the track after a few indoor sessions at Walker Activity Dome, which strangely enough I thought were excellent) but extremely well for me. I'd spent the post-Christmas period scavenging the world for a second Specialized Rockhopper to match my perfect Euro-Vets bike and eBay finally came up trumps. It was listed as "collection in person only" but from bl@@dy Gloucestershire so it cost me plenty when I offered as much for the frame only as the bloke wanted for the whole bike, just to make it easier for him to parcel up and post to me. Anyway, it arrived and was indeed excatly the same size, same fittings, same colour and original stickers - everything perfect. I then set about the major frame alterations necessary to match my Number One bike which involved cutting off, shortening and re-welding the seat stays and putting a gentle curve in the chainstays. This was all to lift the bottom bracket to the perfect height while also pulling the front axle position back to get the right fork angle. Job done in a week. I was so chuffed with it that I then shelled out on a pretty nice powder coated paint job from a local firm that offers my mountain bike club some discount and used it for the first time at our second indoor session. Spot on, happiness.

Rocky3Done

March. While for the last few off-seasons I've just played about during practice/training sessions to encourage the younger lads, I set about this year in a completely opposite fashion and rode as fast as the bike would take me early on. We staged the Cramlington Crown individual meeting as our "proper" season opener on Sunday 19th March and won my first four races, intending to keep up the good work. That left me in a great position to catch an unexpected rostrum with Jason Keith copping an exclusion and Dan Redshaw's leg giving him trouble. I was the only one to take a point off a very lively John Wilson, making his 63rd return to the Sport and claiming the title, but lost out in a fabulous race off for seciond place, passing and re-passing lap after lap with our young superstar Lee Redshaw who just pipped me to the line on the run-in. Very happy with this form so early, my continued twice-a-week mountain bike rides no doubt keeping my old bones in half decent shape. I'm also experimenting with gearing just now, all three bikes set up differently. Mainly using my green Rockhopper as used in the Euro-Vets but now relegated to Northern League machine ahead of my rarely ridden Mielec (used mainly by Samantha just now).

Sunday 26th March saw our (dreaded) Northern League season kick off with the visit of Champions Edinburgh Falcons. As expected they did a demolition job on us but again, apart from one ride where I slowed losing a certain 2 extra points, I was riding as well as anyone and somehow ended up top scoring. Not easy when paired with our new Captain Jason (Gavin Parr isn't expected to complete many fixtures as he's into "junior" speedway at 46!) so I'm not likely to beat my partner as easily as some others for the odd extra point! In fact this is exactly what kept my average below lesser riders last year, a little bit annoying when my team scoring history is inspected but it's down to the Team Manager and he must have his reasons. Anyway, somehow the Northern League's Lancashire Mafia had decided to spice things up for 2017 and had introduced a Match Race Championship with the holder winning a hundred pounds at the end of the season. Edinburgh's Mikey Hewitson, as the League's top scorer last year became the first "holder" so it was down to our top scorer to take up the challenge - little OLD me! Obviously I had no hope of victory and knew that well enough, but I was determined to at least make a race of it and I think I diod that judging from comments afterwards, so pretty proud of today's whole performance in comparison to most of last year.

Our visit to Sheffield for the second NL match proved again I can still mix it a little with some of the fast teenagers, if not beat them. Enjoyed it and again managed to bag a few points I didn't expect while others were gifted them.

April came and went with my next NL match against Bury at Crammy. Another hard one and another crushing defeat for the Vikings but again I had some decent races after Jason and I won heat one, but still disappointing really, these young kids just pedal forever!

May 6th gave us the opening Euro-Vets round at Cramlington and it was really enjoyable, as ever. I managed to get to the Over 50s "B" Final beating John Wilson and finishing second to new Over 60 entrant and good friend Phil Hemming of Wednesfield. I am now happy that I chose to lower the gearing on the Green Meanie as it really has boosted not only my gating but pickup also.

Next up a visit to Scary Stockport and their devilishly fast riders of all ages, but with that same low gearing on Stockport's wide, sweeping bends I surprised myself with a couple of great races beating Jake Read and almost holding off Terry Norman in seperate races after decent gates. Straight after the Stockport match Neil Magee, Keith Dyer, Jim Smith, Keith Oldham, Daniel Wharrier and myself staged a vital and probably overdue Extraordinary General Meeting in the Sporting Club to discuss our hopes and plans for the future. We all had something to say but for my part I want out of the Northern League as we simply can't compete.

Astley & Tyldesley away came next, and we were expecting another wipeout which we duly got. However, once again I had a few smashing rides including getting away ahead of Damien Zareba and Kyle Holland in the same race from grid one! My lead only lasted under 2 laps but I think mI still have something to offer when conditions are right. Very proud of that ride and it is added to my somehow growing list of outstanding performances.

After the Astley match where for the second away meeting in a row there were only 8 or 9 of us travelling, we got into discussion in the van about our future. Only Jason and I were competitive in this one and it's a bit disheartening watching the other lads struggling. I've already had my say in as much as I KNOW we are not Division One standard and I think everyone agrees, but the consensus seems to be we've come too far, done too much graft and have excellent facilities which are just too good to allow us to drop out. That really forces us (or me, at least) to put up and shut up. I may find that hard!

2017 Euro-Vets Update - A light bout of pneumonia picked up on return from holiday late May really knocked the stuffing out of me and I found it extremely hard to do 3 laps flat out, let alone a full race distance. This saw me missing a few training sessions and struggling in the NL and Euro-Vets matches I rode in, managing just a few decent rides in each over June, July and August. Although the bug was gone by the end of July I still get short of breath now (writing this after the Stockport home match on August 5th) so I'm preparing to relinquish my Over 60s title to my great Midlands pals Paul Timms or Phil Hemming, both just a couple of points adrift of me now. The sad thing is there's still only a couple of Vikings who can get the better of me, even in this state. Sorry to harp on about the low esteem I hold club-wise.

Following our final Northern League meeting of the year against Hull where we suffered anmother massive, humiliating defeat I stated my preference very loudly for pulling out of the league. I finally got my wish this time and informed the league of our decision a week later on 11th September.

Oh, no, not again! - August arrives and with it a flippin' kidney infection accompanied by the nastiest set of side effects you could imagine. Knocked me completely for six, even worse than May's episode. It kicked off on Tuesday night, the 8th, when I got home from training and I've hardly been out of the house yet (24th) after a night ride in an ambulance to Cramlington Hospital. Not a great year,

September 17th was the date for the annual Northumbrian Riders Final/TK Trophy meeting and this time I couldn't quite manage the podium, losing out to Jason Keith, Lee Redshaw and Daniel Wharrier in another great match with plenty of close action. 

September 24th arrived and so did Round One of the Three Rivers League at Cramlington. Edinburgh won with Glasgow second, Northumbria third and my team Cramlington fourth. It was more memorable for me by what happened afterwards, when all the riders were gathered on the centre green for what I thought was a photo session. Following the odd camera flash I was about to head back to the pits when Keith Dyer announced there was a special presentation to be made. I didn't have a clue what this was about so stood there trying to make sense of it when Daniel Wharroier approached me with a beautiful inscribed sliver salver marking my 50th year in Short Track (or more accurately the 50th year since my inception). I was staggered, completely unaware of anything to do with this - they'd managed to keep it a secret somehow! How many other things are they not telling me? It seems me old pal Ashie Patterson was the driving force behind the idea, but I felt a bit of a fraud as there are a few others still hanging around the track who've been at it a few years more than me with no such recognition.

Terrys Award

The final round of the 2017 Euro-Vets Grand Prix series at Leicester on 14th October saw me needing to beat rival Phil Hemming of Wednesfield to have any chance of retaining my 2016 title. Feeling good and having settled on my now customary high geared Specialized Rockhopper (can't gate for peanuts but can wind it up later sometimes) I did what needed to be done (with plenty of vocal encouragement from my good friend Mick Knowles in the pits) when we clashed in the "A" Final. That was won by Birmingham's Paul Timms. My second place pulled me level with Phil on overall points, but just days earlier Fred Rothwell and myself had discussed how to separate riders with the same points tally and had decided to use their number of 1st, 2nd and 3rd places if necessary on countback. As Phil had won three rounds to my two he got the verdict, so fair play. If Paul hadn't turned up today and the final had gone the same way I would have retained the Championship by one point, but all three of us have had some great scraps since the other two "came of age" this year so I've still enjoyed the whole series immensely, again.

5060res

 

peanutplotters

Just to round off a great season the crazy, wonderful Leicester lads took me completely by surprise (above) with a gift in recognition of what I do (or what they THINK I do!) for the Euro-Vets organisation, presenting it to me straight after the meeting before any trophies were awarded. My second major embarrassment in a month or so after getting that silver salver from my Northumbria teammates! Anyway, I'm deeply grateful to these happy chappies (Craig Marchant, Norman Venson, Kev Burns, Mark Whitehead and Dave Frith) from one of the greatest CS clubs ever, and here's what was in the parcel:

peanuts

 

60spod

It's mid October and we seem to be deluged by meetings, phone calls or e-mail exchanges with various bodies but all going towards cementing our future as a local facility for anyone on two wheels. Richie Smith and I have established a great rapport with Cycling UK who's local Rep has sorted us a small grant which we are using to drive our expansion plans. While all this is going on I am trying to polish up the web site a bit, shifting old news to our History page and keeping the front up to date which is harder than you might think.

We were due at Glasgow on Sunday 22nd October to complete this year's Three Rivers League but their track was flooded so we reverted to our local league, 10:30 am on Sunday's proving very popular with the lads. After our initial test with four 2/3-man teams we decided to switch to bigger teams to allow for some movement and extra bodies, just in case. The first run of this format on Sunday 22nd October was great for me personally as I was only beaten by Jason after another close scrap with him for three laps before I tired. Although I had inside gates against Lee Redshaw and Dan Wharrier I didn't expect to beat them as they've already shown how quick they are off the start but somehow I got a couple of good gates and although they still made me work hard I held on for the wins. So 15 from four rides while my skipper Josh Herring was unbeaten on 16 almost got our East End Robins team the win, and what a thrill that would have been for my great friend and Robins teammate Ashie Patterson, both of us able to recall past honours from way, way back. I'm extremely happy with my form over the last month or so, it's been good in the Euro-Vets as well as local stuff so I'm thrilled about that as I start my 68th year feeling pretty good and with my new GP taking care of longstanding health problems. I think my general fitness, regular cycling activities since childhood and clean living have helped me stay half decent on the track where others have suffered in later life.

Here's my 2017 collection of trophies.

Terrys2017trophies1024

And here's my 50 year's worth; the whole collection from1967: (not much in national CS terms but maybe not too bad for a Geordie CS rider!).

Terrys CS trophies 1967 to 2017 

No rest for wicked old me! Tuesday 24th October and a half decent morning saw me put in a two and a half hour shift at the track altering the aim of our DIY floodlights to give a bit more coverage. I've been meaning to do this since we put the two extra lamps up on the straights but couldn't find the right time. One day free of babysitting with nothing else planned gave me the opportunity.

The lights will be tested tonight, Wed 25th Oct when we have the second visit of the Cramlingtton Youth Project. They brought 8 girls and 4 lads the previous Wednesday evening, 5:45-6:45 and this time they will fetch their disabled group. [edit - yes indeeed my changes made a huge difference, much better coverage now!].

While this is going on negotiations continue with Cycling UK to organise a leaflet drop in the area to try and pull some more youngsters into the club. Dunno how many samples I've created in the last three weeks!

November saw us move our new local league indoors at Blyth Sports Centre and what a tremendously grippy surface we were presented with, truly amazing! And just like outside I can get around it completely feet-up which is astonishing. With Ashie and me on the same team we decided to invest in some team shirts to confirm our committment to the league and our team, East End Robins, a name I came up with for the original side in the early 1970s. Unfortunately the same spirit of willingness is sadly missing from about half the current membership so we get very low turnout for these, but we're determined to keep it going now, and yes, we Robins are leading the league and deservedly so, even winning the fourth match without our Number One Josh Herring (pic below).

ashieterry18nov2017blythindoor

Well we wrapped up the league title some fifty years after my first one on 9th December 2017 at Blyth again, this time Ashie and I accompanied by JeanPaul Colback who had a great first indoor meeting for us. Like the previous week's sixth round I passed Jason from behind on his outside, the only one to do this to him and also beat him from my grid one. Extremely satisfying that I still have a bit of pace, and all the more surprising considering my anti-indoor stance all these years. However the surface here has been very kind to us and what a difference being inside on a small track has made to great friends Norman Carson and Ashie, they're both really flying in there!

Unfortunately the Club is in one of those almost predictable and so bitterly disappointing downward spirals which I now have to spend the winter trying to stop. Our future survival is probably in the hands of the excellent Richie Smith, our little ray of sunshine in all the gloom, although I can't see Jason or myself throwing in the towel for a long time yet. I've now got my polish Mielec, two home built Specialized Rockhoppers and a home brewed Trek Series 3 raring to go with new or updated parts so they have to be used, and they're absolutely no good for anything else but this!

2018 - All Change

Apart from moping about like a wounded bear bemoaning the demise of my Club for what, the FOURTH time, I spend almost the whole of January and February sourcing parts to build another three vintage Cycle Speedway bikes with standard road-going frames and "cowhorn" handlebars to enable us to take part in a big weekend event at Beamish Museum in County Durham called Pedal Power over the weekend 24/25 March. I was contacted by a member of the local veteran/vintage bicyle enthusiasts club on Facebook who asked if I'd like to take part in this and although my Club is looking pretty sad at the moment I couldn't refuse this opportunity to possibly drum up some interest.

February also saw Secretary Keith Dyer and I get the transfers sorted out for Keith Oldham and Shane Gray (to 2nd Division Glasgow), Daniel Wharrier and Jason Keith (to Edinburgh) and the Stansfield brothers (to Hull). Because of my firm stance against racing kiddies in Division Two and the folly of us Oldies trying to race teenage and Under-40 missiles in Division One I ignored whatever opportunities there may have been to join our 2018 exports so that doesn't leave anything regular for me to keep in shape with. I'm a bit sad about this (understatement).

Richie Smith and I continued to host sessions indoors at Blyth Sports Centre for youngsters during February and March with somewhat disappointing turn-outs while the post-junior sessions from 4-5pm had trouble attracting any but us few half dozen diehards for a resumption of the winter league which we were forced to forget about. This was especially disheartening for me as it requires so much effort on my part to get the bikes from Crammy, ram them in the van and then do the reverse after each session. Our new boy from Norwich, Josh Herring, continued to turn up when he had the time, way better than half of our locals could manage and I commend him for that. He's also shown an interest in becoming our second Level 2 BC Coach.

Richie and Josh both attended BC's Northern Go-Ride Conference in Durham City on Sunday 25th February while I continued after Christmas having meetings with Cycling UK's local rep Andrew Thorp and a networking presentation at The Journey bike hub in Newcastle on Tuesday 6th March for his other affilliated groups in the area.

With just one single Chellenge match arranged (home and away) with the ever-accommodating Hull CSC there is very little for me personally to look forward to other than the splendid Euro-Vets Grand Prix series which kicks off at Astley & Tyldesley on March 31st. Can't wait for that although I'm not expecting to be race ready by then. Time will tell if Glasgow and Edinburgh will be supporting the Three Rivers League this year and at the moment I'm too scared to ask!

March

At last we got back into outdoor mode with the track decently grippy. Still just a few fingers were enough to tot up the turnout, but at least we could start getting into shape, really looking forward to the first Euro-Vets which apart from the scheduled challenge with Hull would be my only route to racing this year.

That initial event of the 2018 series was at a very cold and windy Astley & Tyldesley on 31st March. Ashie and Jason accompanied me to begin the year the way we finished the previous one, a merry little band are we. Although I'd had real trouble trying to get past 3 serious laps in the few training sessions we'd had somehow it all dropped into place here and I was particularly pleased with two of my six rides. The first gave me a from-the-back win over Kevin Greaves who's just moved up to the Over 60s Club but my last heat in the qualifier was another to add to my greatest memories. My glory only lasted a lap and a quarter but that included gating ahead and staying ahead of the one and only Steve Harris, surely one of the most accomplished and decorated riders ever and just turned 50. In fact Steve dropped just one point in bhoth the 40s and 50s today! A great thrill that, and maybe validation of my decision to make a significant change to my gating stance, having the front pedal quite a bit lower than ever before. That may not have given me the edge here, it could have been shear determination which is what usually gets me a 1 in 5 or 6 good getaway. Anyway finishing third to youngsters Colin Simmons and Paul Timms in the A Final was way more than I expected, so very happy with the first outing.

April

Poor turnouts for pre-season training have kept things very low-key while Shane Gray and Keith Oldham made theeir debuts for Glasgow in Division Two at Stockport, and Jason Keith and Dan Wharrier likewise for Edinburgh in Division One to at least keep us in the picture somewhere. The first Euro-Vets at Astley & Tyldesley was long awaited and excellent. I managed third place behind Colin Simmons and a returning Paul Timms who'd threatened to quit at the end of last year but mercifully changed his mind! I'd happily ride against Paul seven days a week and gladly lose them all, he's that kind of "good rider" on and off the track. 

SPLAT!

I rode in the inaugural "Wally Grant Memorial Trophy" at Horspath on 21st April following the British Lions v Euro-Vets return match amongst a wonderful gathering of old and new veteran racers. I duly led away in my first race, heat 2, off the inside ahead of eventual meeting winner Rob Haywood. Hitting the third bend way too fast on this daft gearing I use the bike was determined to keep going straight so I just had to get off. I let go of the Mielec and clenched my fists for an attack on the fence but it still got the better of me. Ouch, two broken metacarpels on the right hand slowed me down and the resulting exclusion put me out of the picture so I just enjoyed the rest of the match at a somewhat slower pace. I ended up limping for the next few days with both shins, elbows and that right hip again giving trouble after it seemed to have magically mended. The following day I couldn't get off the line in training at Crammy so couldn't help my team much in that one which saw the biggest turnout since last Autumn, nine of us. Great to meet Les Gustafson again and he travelled back up to the North East with us after the hot Horspath meeting. And of course my favourite bunch of regular loony travellers were there again; Mick Knowles, Fred Rothwell and my skipper and chauffeur Jason Keith.

déjà vu

Oh dear, I've hardly stoppped whinging before being struck down again! A chest infection this time, the day after our solitary away meeting at great friends Hull CSC on Sunday 29th April. This one stopped me riding on Tuesday 1st May and my scheduled, rarely-missed MTB ride on Thursday 5th. I write this on Saturday evening determined to make it out tomorrow in glorious weather when I've promised to show Shane Gray what I get up to on a mounting bike. At least the wife has been ill with me, as she was last year so I'm getting support!

May

Saturday 12th saw Ashie, Jason and I collecting Fred Rothwell on the way to Newport for Round 2 of the Euro-Vets GP. With the chest still bothering me I wasn't too hopeful but had a couple of decent rides, the only issue being the air rushing down my throat on the straights! While I did just enough (without knowing how I'd scored) to scrape into the 60s "A" Final where I finished last (Kev Greaves giving up his own chance of second place or better by taking me to the fence!) the highlight was once again my meeting with Steve Harris. As in the opening match at Astley I managed to lead Steve around the first lap and afterwards he admitted he'd rather be next to me on the grid than one removed. I think just being in the same race as this superstar lifts me quite a bit, and I also enjoy chasing him once he's blown me away!

The broken bones in my right hand continue to hurt a little when gating and pulling gloves on but once I'm underway they're no problem, and finally the chest complaint and awful cough seem to be easing so no excuses for upcoming Hellingly!

I'm currently finalising a leaflet for distribution wherever we can in the hope we can attract some new blood into the Sport and our club so fingers crossed we can get it out there and read by the right people.