One of My Favourite Cyclists
I got a letter from one of my favourite ever Chain Gang cyclists earlier this week, Albert Ayton.
Albert first joined us in 2000 at the age of 79 in the Dordogne. He’s an accomplished cyclist – he won the Varsity 100, a one hundred mile time trial that formed a small series before there was an official National championship, in 1948, ’49 and 50.
He was also the first cyclist in his club ever to break ‘par’ for a 25 mile time trial, that it is to go under 1 hour. A bit more difficult in those days than on todays sleek carbon beauties! Typically self-deprecating, Albert also pointed out that before the event finished another club member beat his time, so his moment of glory was short-lived.
A few years ago, Albert was appointed President of the Pedal Club in London, a group of cycling luminaries set up in the ‘30’s, and limited to 100 members. I was very proud to be invited to a lunch as Albert’s guest one time, and it was a bit surreal to have famous cyclists, journalists and other members of the cycling trade being called to order to welcome me! But it was great, I met some amazing cyclists, and it was wonderful to see the affection and respect offered to my mate Albert.
I went to a track event at Herne Hill in Southwest London with Albert once, for the Good Friday meeting (by the way, if you ever get the chance, it’s a great day out – top quality racing). It was a bit like being the special guest of a VIP, walking around Herne Hill with Albert.
Of course, the Eastbourne Rovers, John, Mike, George and Stuart, knew about Albert, and they had many mutual acquaintances – cycling with all of them in Burgundy was a special treat, one of my favourite weeks with The Chain Gang. We were also lucky enough to have Anne Mounsey with us, one time winner of the UK Best All Rounder title, another amazing cyclist.
But It’s All Over . . .
Albert has finally decided to throw the towel in, he won’t be cycling with us again. But he has asked me to pass on his best regards to anybody who cycled with him on his Chain Gang tours.
That includes quite a few serial offenders, so Richard Seeley and Jane Carr, Christine and Graham Daly, Simon Moss, (a wonderful Aussie Doctor, hugely knowledgeable about wine, but more importantly on hand in Burgundy when Albert hurt himself in a fall), Norma Goggin, Sandeep Dhawan, Duncan Byrne, and of course Anne Mounsey and the Eastbourne Rovers. Albert says hello, and enjoy your cycling.