Introducing Peter Tasker (The Group’s new Chairman) –  an assorted history

I came into the sport of Cycling in 1952 at 14years of age via a School Cycling Club. The classics teacher was a member of the Beds DA CTC and so I joined their Sunday rides and found they had a racing off-shoot called Icknield Road Club which I joined. I started racing and in my first year managed 1:04:02 for 25miles and 25:06 for 10miles in which I was awarded a silver medal. By the next season being 15 I managed to do 1:02 for 25miles on a Bath Road course but then saw Ken Russell win the Tour of Britain cycle race without any Team support, riding for Ellis Briggs bikes. So having decided this was more interesting type of racing I took out BLRC and NCU race licences and by the age of 17 had managed to get a 1st Cat license in both organisations with some wins and placing. I managed to get accepted for events like Tour of the Hopfields in Kent, Tour of the Dales in Derbyshire and some events in South Yorkshire. I also rode many of the circuit events at Finsbury Park, Ally (Crystal) Palace,  Church Lawford near Rugby, Dunmow Airfield  and Stapleford Tawney cinder circuit (both  in Essex). Once, having ridden the Tour of the Hopfields on the Saturday, international rider Stan Britain (who had also ridden the event) asked how I was getting back to London and then on to Bedfordshire. So together we caught a train from Ashford to Paddington, switched (via escalators) to the underground through to St Pancras. Stan got off in London as I continued to St Pancras. He had arranged an overnight stay in North London as we were both riding at Stapleford Tawney on the Sunday. It would be near impossible to take bikes on the underground on a Saturday night these days.

During this time I had got to know a good roadman from a Cambridge club called Freddie Krebs and he was stationed at RAF Henlow for his National Service, so I did a Thursday evening training ride with him before he joined Hercules Cycles as a Pro and later rode the Tour de France. He taught me about positioning in a road race, watching for the sprinters and climbers. In late1955 I rode the 120mile Tour of the Cotswolds,  broke away at 90 miles, got caught by 3 others and finished 4th in the sprint in Woodstock High Street. After the event I was told by a race Official from NCU that the event was a selection event for the 1956 Olympics road race but at 17 I was too young to be considered.

I continued to ride both time trials and road races until at 21 was called to my 2 years National Service, having been deferred whilst I was studying Engineering at the local Technical Collage as part of my apprenticeship. I was posted to the Durham light Infantry at Brancpeth Castle as I could play a musical instrument and the Military Band was short of musicians, but I was trained as a solider and  was then was posted to Cyprus to fight a terrorist group called Eoka. On after being demobbed in early 1960, having not seen or ridden a bike for 2 years, decided my career was more important which proved the correct decision.

In late 1969, as I had put on weight entertaining clients, I decided to start riding again and a few years later I joined the VTTA. At  44 years of age I couldn’t ride as fast as when I was young and never had time to train and get lots of miles in. Around  the 1970/1980 period I promoted  five VTTA National Championship events on the  fast F1 Great North Road courses, at both 25 and 50miles, when people like the late Brian Haskell would come down to ride, also George and Mary Dawson from Yorkshire and Teeside. In the mid 1990 I was elected Chairman of RTTC/CTT London North and was also on the National Appeals Panel. The panel had some interesting cases such as a following car for the late Gary Deighton, and the late Zack Carr for paced riding in a Championship 100. I gave up competing in 1998 but still ride the bike, but if cold and wet now just ride my turbo trainer and I still do timekeeping at events.

Each year Jean, my late wife, and I had a 2 week’s tour of France on the tandem to see the big Tour. Jean was always supportive of my involvement in cycling, usually arranging the catering at any event I organised. Following some serious illnesses twenty years previously, I was diagnosed with a brain tumour in March 2020 but made a good recovery (as I had previously done, from Bladder Cancer and a kidney removal) following a successful operation possibly helped by my level of fitness after many years of active cycling.

Peter Tasker (Icknield RC)