“What was the occasion of your first practical introduction to cycle racing, and your mount?
My first race which I was fortunate to win was a mile open handicap at Preston in 1874. It was ridden on the road, the course being nearly straight. I rode on this occasion a 48 inch Challenge, fitted with the then novel roller bearings. This class of machine will be remembered best in connection with the trailing brake, an appliance upon which, and a front wheel, we used to coast down hill.
“Who were the best riders at that time, and where did they train?”
At the commencement of my racing career there were only two or three local riders who went in for pace. One of the best was Charlie Shaw, and afterwards Frank Mills of Beverley came to the front. It must be remembered, however, that there were only two or three races each year, and we had therefore had very few opportunities of meeting. Training was, of necessity, all done on the road and correct timing of trials out of the question. The Hull B.C. were permitted to run off a handicap and a two mile scratch race for the club championship, in Pearson’s Park, once, I believe in 1878, but we were not allowed to repeat it. My time, as the winner of the latter event, was 6mins 27 secs. Shaw was second, and Tonge of Driffield, third.
In 1879 long distance riding became popular, the usual thing being a 24 hours spin. Shaw who had removed to Driffield, and Tonge covered some good distances, several times completing 200 miles. My companion was C. A. Stuart, who for a lightweight was a plucky rider and a wonderful stayer. We used to go for a 40 or 50 mile run every night in the week by the way of preparing for a long ride. Probably the best performance of Stuart and I was on an occasion when we failed to reach 200 miles, finishing our time with a little over 190. Through starting late out arrangements were upset, and we were 12 hours without food. As soon as we had made up arrears in this respect and started the return journey, it commenced to rain, and the remainder of the ride was finished in a steady downpour and against a headwind.
“What were your experiences with indoor racing tournaments?”
My first one is limited to the first one held in Hull, in a large temporary building on the Rifle Barracks field, during the Christmas week of 1879. It consisted of 6 days pro race (14 hours each day) and a 14 hour amateur race. The pro race was won by Waller who was then in his best form. The Amateurs numbered 8, and the days on which they had to ride were drawn for, Saturday falling to my lot. This proved to be a piece of good fortune, as I had the advantage of knowing exactly what was required of win. Shaw only covered 160 odd miles which was beaten by E.W.Stephenson, and later by Tonge with 178 miles J. T. Hollings lifted the distance to 182 miles, and I further improved it on the Saturday by riding 184. I have sometimes wondered where we should have finished with another week and another 6 riders. The only training that I had was with horizontal bars and skipping rope.
“Do you believe that the licensing scheme has been beneficial to the interests of pure amateurism?”
No. I think amateurism has been neither better nor worse for it. Perhaps I am biased against the licensing business, as I hold a strong opinion that ever cyclist should be considered an amateur until he disqualifies himself by his own act. There is no room for doubt that a large number of men get licenses who ought not to receive them and this without imputing any blame to those responsible for the issue of such licenses.
“What is your ideal amateur definition?”
I do not see any reason to alter the present one, except to sweep away the explanatory clauses, which do not appear to be necessary. Every entry form should have a printed declaration for the cyclist entrant to sign, saying that he does not receive either directly or indirectly, from any person any remuneration for riding. The trouble is not so much to frame an amateur definition as to apply it.