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Days Gone By - Cheering on cycle races through Suffolk over the decades

PUBLISHED: 14:30 11 July 2020

A cycle race along Felixstowe sea front in April 1976

 Picture: ARCHANT

A cycle race along Felixstowe sea front in April 1976 Picture: ARCHANT

Cycling is currently very much in the spotlight, with more of us being urged to get on our bikes for the sake of both fitness and the environment.

Sudbury Round Table cycle race in July  1975 Picture: ARCHANTSudbury Round Table cycle race in July 1975 Picture: ARCHANT

Today we are looking back at some of the popular cycle races held around the region over the decades.

A cycle race at Mildenhall Dairytime Gala in August  1980 

Picture: ARCHANTA cycle race at Mildenhall Dairytime Gala in August 1980 Picture: ARCHANT

Some of these events have involved mainly local cyclists riding through the streets of their own town or village, while others saw top cyclists riding through the region. Some featured a mix of local and professional cyclists.

Riders come up the hill in Woodbridge Cycle Race in 1993 Picture: ARCHANTRiders come up the hill in Woodbridge Cycle Race in 1993 Picture: ARCHANT

Our gallery features photos of races in Felixstowe, Sudbury, Mildenhall, Ixworth, Woodbridge and Bury St Edmunds - and a cycle race on the A140 back in the 1950s.

The riders navigating their way down the hill in Felixstowe in 1976 Picture: JOHN KERRThe riders navigating their way down the hill in Felixstowe in 1976 Picture: JOHN KERR

A previous article about cycle races in Felixstowe brought back memories for reader Ken Nichols, of the Wolsey Road Club.

Fast action from the Ixworth Criterium youth races in 2003 Picture: ANDY ABBOTTFast action from the Ixworth Criterium youth races in 2003 Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

He wrote: “Thank you for printing the pictures of the cycle racing at Felixstowe during the 1970s and 80s. They bring back many memories of fun, excitement and long days of hard work.

A cycle race on the A140 in 1950. Picture: ARCHANTA cycle race on the A140 in 1950. Picture: ARCHANT

“As a member of the promoting cycling club, the Wolsey Road Club, I well remember how we had to persuade shopkeepers that closing roads was a good idea for the town, although the town council were all for such a sporting event and they donated a handsome cup to be presented to the professional winner.

Ixworth Street Cycle Race in 2008. Picture: TUDOR MORGAN-OWENIxworth Street Cycle Race in 2008. Picture: TUDOR MORGAN-OWEN

“We also had to walk the streets and call on shops to get prizes. A sign of the times is that the professional winner took home the princely sum of £12 for racing for an hour, and having travelled perhaps 200 miles to the course before and afterwards.

A cyclo cross race at Nowton Park, Bury st. Edmunds

 in 2005 Picture: TUDOR MORGAN-OWENA cyclo cross race at Nowton Park, Bury st. Edmunds in 2005 Picture: TUDOR MORGAN-OWEN

MORE: When cyclists raced around Felixstowe seafront

“The idea of closing the seafront roads of an English seaside town in high summer was almost unheard of back then. Today they even close the Mall in London without another thought.

“All the helpers and officials were just giving their time for the sport, unlike big races now. I well remember getting to a farm outside the town at 5am to load a van with bales of straw, which we then had to put around the course at danger points.

“The races started in the morning and continued until about 4pm, when the winner of the professional race would finish. After the prizes were presented, the second hard bit would begin, for after marshalling all day, the course had to be taken down and the straw bales were then returned to the farmer. I think we slept very well that night, although we were 45 years younger and full of energy.

• What are your memories of cycle races? Email judy.rimmer@archant.co.uk To order photos, visit www.eadt.co.uk/myphotos24, or call Diane Townsend on 01603 772449


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