Monday, March 11, 2013

#514 That Cap and also Tom Simpson.

British team 1960 Tour de France (photos from Coureur - Sporting Cyclist).

In August 1960, aged 15, I went to St Brieuc in Brittany and cycle raced as a junior in the Cadet Category.  Also staying in St Brieuc at the time was John/Jock Andrews (seen here on the extreme right when he was in the British team in that year's Tour de France).  After the Tour, John/Jock gave me his white and black GB cap as he couldn't wear it any longer as he was obliged to wear his sponsor's Louison Bobet kit in other races.

I wore the cap with pride and used to perch it on the top of my head al la Tom Simpson. One day in a race it came un-perched and flew off into a ditch. What a dilemma! Should I stop and retrieve it? or carry on racing and lose it? I *think* I did the right thing and carried on racing, but I do wish I hadn't lost that cap for I'm sure I would still have it today, it was irreplaceable and my pride and joy.

Tom Simpson (but with a Peugeot cap)

In St Brieuc I had cheap lodging in a local hotel, Le Perroquet Vert, that another Englishman, John Geddes, had arranged for me. One night there was a track meeting in town and some top Tour de France professionals were invited to race. The two most famous Brits at the time were Tom Simpson and Brian Robinson and they came together to the event and by chance stayed the night in our hotel.

Next morning there was me, Geddes, Robinson and Simpson at breakfast; Brian Robinson asked me what I was up to and I said I had to catch a bus to go to a local Cadet race. He nearly offered me a lift to the race but the timing was all wrong and anyway John Geddes told them it would be good for me to take the bus. Can you imagine if I had turned up at the race with Brian Robinson and Tom Simpson? It would have been like being taken to a tennis tournament by Rafa Nadal or being dropped off by Cesc Fàbregas at a schoolboy soccer match. Everyone would have been in awe and bound to let me win, just out of respect.

Simpson & Robinson.