Wrong Way to End to Ender 1959

WRONG WAY END TO ENDER from Sporting Cyclist 1959

THERE are many unconventional things about David Duffield, the gay cavalier of Midland cycling. For instance, he must be one of the few racing men of the present generation who does no weekday training at all, his cycling being confined to weekends. But most unconventional of all was his decision to attack the End to End tricycle record this year ” the wrong way round,” that is, by starting from John o’ Groats instead of Land’s End. That he succeeded, in spite of the dismal prophecies of riders and followers with much End to End experience, did not surprise his friends, for, in their opinion, “Dave can get away with anything!” Needless to say, therefore, David Duffield is one of the characters of the cycling world a cheerful, voluble heavyweight, three inches above the six foot mark, whose services are very much in demand during the social season as an after dinner speaker. On such occasions his “few notes” are either written on a thick wad of foolscap ,sheets, or on the back of a scantily clad pin up portrait. However, David Duffield warrants a place in this gallery of Sporting Cyclists because of his feats outside the social season.

It was Mike Earp of the Evesham and District Wheelers who first instilled an enthusiasm for competitive cycling into David, while the pair were doing their National Service. On being demobbed in March, 1952, David joined the Beacon Roads C.C., and 12 days later rode his first time trial, a medium gear 25 in which he clocked an encouraging 1921. By the end of the year he was down to 1-2-7 for a 25, his best 50 was 2-8-55, and he was 12 minutes inside “evens” for the hundred. Despite a change of Job next year, and irregular training, David managed to knock 16 minutes off his 100 time, and covered 241 miles in a 12 hour event. Duffield’s clubmates will, I am sure, agree that some of his tastes are bizarre, to say the least. Small wonder, then, to find him attracted to tricycling ! In 1954 he rode a 25, two 50s and a 100 on a ” barrow,” in the latter event achieving the distinction of finishing second to John Arnold and pushing Albert Crimes down into third place. Attracted to Road Records, he attempted, in one ride, the Midland R.R.A. 50 and Midland and National 100 records; but an error in course measurement resulted in his claim being rejected. But he had shown himself to have the ideal temperament for the job, and success in this sphere eventually came his way. I remember his triple record attempt in September, 1955, on the Birmingham to Bristol and back and 12 hour’ Midland records (he had scheduled’, for the National 12 as well). Riding’ a ” conversion ” set, his offside rear fork end fractured after 30 miles” and he completed the ride on al machine literally strapped together. The Midland records were beaten quite comfortably, but what a fight he had over the closing miles of the National 12! A slow patch had set in, he was drenched by a thunderstorm at Warwick, and when I saw him stagger up the little rise into Knowle the well known Duffield spirit was very low indeed. But David was not finished by a long way, and, after struggling into Solihull and turning off down the winding lanes through Catherine de Barnes, the speed rapidly rose – 17.s, 18s and then ” evens.” But time was running out. The record stood to the credit of S. W. Parker with 230 miles, and to become the new holder David had to beat it by at least 440 yards. His ” sprint ” paid off, for when calculations were finished it was found he had ridden 230.4 miles. The last two Whitsuns have seen David putting up really great endurance rides. In 1956, you will remember, it was the 1,000 miles that hit the headlines. Equipped with a specially built 26in. frame, with reinforced rear stays, 7in. cranks and eight gears, he overcame the delay caused by a broken front spindle, stomach trouble, a bad attack of hic coughs and extreme cold during the hours of darkness, to knock 18 hours off the previous record with a time of 3 days 12 hours 15 minutes.

The super salesman

This year it was the ” Unconventional ” John o’ Groats to Land’s End record. Again he had mechanical bother early on, and again he had to fight stomach trouble and cold, but fought courageously on to clock 2 days 20 hours 9 minutes, or 41′ hours inside record. As is often the case on those ultra-long records, the helpers were more tired than the rider. And so David drove the first 50 .miles of the journey back to the Midlands while his helpers slept. I have only outlined the highlights of Duffield’s racing career, but the great thing is that, win or lose, he enjoys the sport. During this past summer I saw him riding in a circuit mass start event. Wearing a natty line in black and white check caps, he was lapped by the leaders, but came through with a wink and the thumbs up ,sign to his friends. With such a love of the game, we look forward to seeing a lot more of David Duffield, on and off the bike, for he is still only 26 (and single, too, girls!), and with plans galore in mind. A representative for a well known Midland cycle firm, he knows how to put his case. Ray Booty says that after a bit of sales talk from David he found himself agreeing to pair up with him one of these days for a record attempt on a tandem trike!

Keith Edwards. Sporting Cyclist 1957

870 miles in… well, its written up there on the pointer to John O’Groats. An obliging photographer has fixed his own private signpost to commemorate David Duffield’s successful end to end ride.

Alternatively, Check out the whole collection of Duffield pages here and enjoy one of the all time great commentators.

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