www.dadswell.co.uk  Mostly cycling records, mostly on three wheels

How did all this tricycling nonsense start?                             Back to Cycling Record Attempts

I'm guessing that I first stumbled across Dave Pitt in 1986.  I'd heard of him before, and knew he was quite a hardcore rider.   He had done some decent rides in time trials in the late 70s, but I knew little more than that.

I used to hang around with members of the Antelope Racing Team as we would frequently travel to the same races and sometimes end up staying in the same 'digs' beforehand.  In 1987 I joined Antelope RT and I guess that just resulted in a bit more contact.   The club is based in Southampton, and to begin with they were one of the top local clubs for me.  When I moved from the Isle of Wight to High Wycombe this was less obvious, but I still had an attachment to racing in the New Forest and so they were still a relevant bunch to me.

For completeness, I have to say that when I moved to South Bucks I did ride for High Wycombe CC in 1986, but the aims and objectives of Antelope RT seemed closer to mine.

Dave Pitt was a fairly vocal member of Antelope RT, and it didn't take long to realise that when he actually did any training he was capable of some pretty good performances.  While he would often be seen astride two wheels, he was mainly known (notoriously?) as someone who raced a tricycle.

In the late 1970s he'd broken 8 RRA tricycle records and after another blitz of record-breaking in 1982 he'd reached a total of 16 National Records, split between RRA and RTTC.  He was very proud of breaking the RTTC 10 mile record twice in one day.

But he was always keen to deny doing any training when I knew him, and was only an intermittent racer.

Piecing things together from the available evidence, I think it's fair to say that I spent a fair bit of time in his company in 1987.  Dave lived in Guildford at that point.  Although that was still a fair way from me, it was a lot closer than Southampton ... and so I found myself drinking beer with him and others most Friday evenings at the Charlotteville CC clubroom.

He must've been doing some training, though, because he did a record attempt in 1987.  It was by any standards absolutely chaotic, but he managed to get himself from Birmingham to London in 5h 6m 40s, so in went the claim.  I was part of the support team for this, and was pretty useless.  No experience with tricycles, and hardly any experience helping someone.  I obviously wasn't quite bad enough, though, because he still got to the finish in time.  

During this period I had no thought of getting a tricycle, although the idea of doing record attempts did appeal.  Dave had access to a race-grade tandem-bicycle, and also he had a tandem-tricycle in his garage.   I can't quite remember whether he actually owned the tandem-tricycle at the time or whether it was borrowed.   He had owned it at some point, but I think he sold it and then borrowed it back.   A good arrangement if you can pull it off.

I have found quite a few schedules which must have related to this period.  Here's one for Birmingham to London on the tandem-bicycle.   As you'll spot, it's hard to date it because we failed to actually say what the year was.

(Aside : This schedule used Dave's preferred route into London, using A41 rather than heading through Barnet and getting onto the A1.   A few years later when he was on the tandem-tricycle with Pete Stonebanks they had quite a scary time in the Kings Cross area.  I don't think Pete expected them to get to the finish alive!)

I've found a few other schedules for us on the tandem-tricycle in either 1987 or 1988.  We also had paperwork for a 100 mile attempt from Blyth to Sandy on A1.   I don't actually know how many of these were formally submitted to the RRA.  I hope not many, because it would have been a huge waste of money.  I never saw the tandem-bicycle, and only ever rode the tandem-tricycle socially.

Later in the year, we both attended the luncheon of the Fellowship of West London Cyclists.  A real festival of beer drinking.   Tickets were really cheap, and the meal reflected this.  But there was a bar, and everyone had a great time, including the wonderful tradition of cross-toasting.

At one point, Dave stood up and waited for silence.  "Mr President, I would like to take wine with Ralph Dadswell.  He will never be able to ride my tricycle, and he will never break any of my records!".   Naturally I stood up to accept the toast.  But that was also the moment when I knew I had to get a tricycle.

Without saying too much, I arranged to take Dave's tricycle for a test ride.   He was certain that I would fall off.  He didn't let me start my ride until he was in position at the first corner with his camera.  I was out riding for about half an hour, and I will admit that there were some scary moments.  But I didn't crash, and I didn't even hit a kerb.  It wasn't addictive, but I knew I had to give it a try.

After this, I made an appointment to visit framebuilder George Longstaff at his shop in Newcastle-under-Lyme.  I placed an order for a custom made tricycle frame with two-wheel drive.   £450 well spent - at least I had to hope so!

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