A day to remember
In July 2015 I had the great privilege of spending a day with Mrs Eileen Sheridan. In case you don't know, Eileen is one of our greatest living cyclists. In the 1950's she re-wrote the record books, taking one by one, all of the records that had been recorded by Marguerite Wilson between 1938 and 1941. Just as importantly, she is the most delightful person you could ever hope to meet. Eileen wrote the foreword to my book, and of course, she writes brilliantly, with the authority of someone who knows what it takes to be a champion and to break the toughest of records.
I wrote a letter of introduction and before long I had a phone call. I'd just got back from a long ride when Christine, my wife, said 'your girlfriend rang!' It was none other than Mrs Eileen Sheridan, famous cyclist, in fact the most famous person I have ever spoken to. We had a lovely chat on the phone and by the end Eileen had to insist that I stop calling her Mrs Sheridan preferring just Eileen. Marguerite was a great hero in Eileen's eyes and she had no hesitation is agreeing to help me with the book.
One year later and the book was completed. I have presented a copy to all who helped in its production and first recipient of course had to be Eileen. I spent a lovely day with Eileen at her home beside the river Thames. Still sprightly and energetic despite being in her tenth decade, we spent the day talking about all sorts of things as well as cycling. She is so interesting and accomplished. Not only is she a record breaking sportswoman but she managed to bring up her children at the same time. After she retired from cycling she wrote her engaging autobiography Wonder Wheels. He second career was as a crystal glass engraver. Eileen showed me her workshop and examples of her engravings which are truly stunning in their artistry and craftsmanship- world class.
Eileen was delighted with the book and in return presented me with a copy of Eileen Sheridan - A cycling Life and signed it with her elegant signature. We enjoyed a pub lunch together beside the river, then went back for a cup of tea.
I spotted the WRRA London-Bath-London Trophy and saw that Eileen's and Marguerite's names were engraved side by side on shields at its base. I thought this would make a good photo. So ensued much hilarity as we tried to take a picture without my reflection in it. It ended up with me lying on the floor hiding from my own reflection whilst Eileen held the Trophy against variety of black velvet coats. Here is our best effort (left).
What comes across after speaking with Eileen was that Marguerite was greatly loved and admired by all who knew her. Marguerite and Eileen not only have their record breaking achievements in common, more importantly they combined it with great character.