One of the best things about writing the book has been meeting people and making new friends. Over the past two years I have struck up a friendship with George Bolton and his wife Joyce. They are both longterm cyclists with Bournemouth Arrow cc. This of course, was Marguerite's club. George recalls Marguerite effortlessly sweeping by his group of club mates on the way to Club Tea one Sunday. George is a retired aeronautical engineer and Joyce was Headmistress at their local primary school for many years. They live in what I nick-named 'The Enchanted Cottage' on the edge of the New forest.
George never throws anything away and has archive material from the club going all the way back to the 1930s. George has been so enthusiastic and helpful in providing information for the book. Just as importantly, he was able to give me a real sense of cycling culture and club life in the early days.
One day the topic of conversation turned to sprints. Sprints were light-weight, wood rimmed wheels used by Marguerite for her record breaking rides. And, as if by magic, George conjured up a sprint wheel (see below). He also showed me a pair of wheel carriers - off-set brackets which allow the precious sprints to be transported to a race attached to the front hub beside the forks, (there is an illustration of this in the book).
The wood rimmed sprint is certainly a thing of great beauty, and something that I was unaware of before meeting Gorge and writing the book. They are still manufactured in Italy by Ghisallo, (see the links below to view two fantastic films documenting their manufacture).
Through my work as a Doctor and through writing, I am inspired by people, and learn some of life's lessons from them. Not least from George, who is the full-time carer for Joyce who has dementia. I am inspired by his kindness and complete devotion to her, and this reminds me that my interest in cycling is as much about people and friendships as it is about bikes and riding.
Although this book is about the history of cycling, it ia also, it seems to me, about joy for and zest for life too....
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