First tricyclist in cycling history to complete 50 miles inside 2 hours: Memories of Reg Turner


Thank you to Martin Purser, Charlotteville C.C., Tricycle Association, Road Records Association, who has contributed memories of tricyclist and member of Doncaster Wheelers C.C. Reg Turner:

“At the end of this year the Tricycle Association will begin the celebration of its 90th Year, the inaugural meeting having been held 12th December 1928. For ease of local administration the Association gradually became divided into Regions, the North Eastern Region emerging in the late 1940s.

In 1953 the North Eastern Region was presented with ‘The Turner Shield’ by Reg and Lisa Turner, to be awarded annually according to the conditions decided by the N.E. Committee. Originally it was awarded to the fastest rider in the 50 miles Time Trial promoted by the North Eastern Region. This has been amended now to the Region’s member completing the fastest ‘50’.

Reg Turner (Dinnington Institute Road and Path Cycling Club) of Worksop was the first tricyclist in cycling history to complete fifty miles inside two hours. Sunday, 2nd November 1952, found Reg and his team of helpers atop Bowes Moor on the A66, ready to follow the measured straight-out ‘50’ course that ran nearly all downhill to the Great North Road at Scotch Corner, and on south to Minskip by Boroughbridge. It was an extremely fast course on the right day, with the right wind: there were no large towns to cause danger or delay. The Motorway (A1M) now being constructed has shortened the available mileage to just 25 miles. The machine that Reg used had two variable gears: 82 ins. and 86.4 ins., a double chain-set with a single cog in the axle achieving this. Watson had used a single 84.7 ins. gear. Timed by Bill Bailey, the Dinnington rider had scheduled for a modest 2h. 10m., but a strong favourable wind made for a remarkable start, the first 12 miles being covered in 25 minutes: 5 minutes up on schedule! The first 25½ miles sped by in 58 minutes – 6 minutes up on schedule; and 26½ miles were covered in the first hour. The favourable wind continued to assist as the course turned south and the last time check before the finish showed 48½ miles having been covered in 1h. 55m. It was an exhilarating success. Reg recorded 1h. 59m. 01s. for the N.R.R.A. ‘50’, taking 19m.02s. off the old record.

Amidst the intense tricycle competition emerging countrywide in the 1950s between Albert Crimes, John Arnold, Harold Daniels et al, Reg, himself ‘a competent tricyclist’ according to George Herbert Stancer O.B.E., had attempted the Northern Road Records Association straight-out ‘50’. This had been held since Sunday, 5th April 1931 by William ‘Bill’ Cooper (Gomersal O.R.C.) with a time of 2h. 18m. 03s. Reg had not felt confident enough to tackle the then formidable national figure of 2h. 00m. 41s. held by the great Scottish rider, Albert Watson, since 1936; and so he did not put in a schedule for that as well. In hindsight he probably wished that he had sent in a ‘notice of an attempt’ on the record to the national Road Records Association as well as the Northern Association, but, no schedule, no record. Alec Glass (2h. 09m. 14s. in 1930), Bob Beckett (2h. 12m. 50s. also in 1930) and Fred Fisher (2h. 14m. 29m. in 1925) were all holders of the record before Albert Watson. The national record was an exceptional time for the average club man to contemplate then. George Herbert Stancer O.B.E. (Yorkshire Road Club), himself a former record breaker, one of the most notable cycling administrators of the era, and former editor of ‘Cycling’ magazine, could not recollect any rider attempting to beat it. It would not be until 1959 that the R.R.A. record would be beaten by David Duffield (Beacon Road Club) with 1h. 57m. 04s.

Reg was a star who appears to have shone brightly racing in time trials (out and home courses) for just a couple of years, 1952 and 1953. With second places in the North Midlands ‘25’ (4th May 1952 – 1h. 8m. 2s.), the North Midland ‘50’ (25th May 1952 – 2h. 23m. 39s.), the Northern ‘100’ (1st June 1952 – 5h. 8m. 27s.), and third place in the North Midlands ‘100’ (13th July 1952 – 5h. 31m. 52s.), Reg had gone on to win the South Eastern Twelve Hours event (10th August, 1952), incorporating the prestigious ‘Tricycle Trophy’ with 223mls. 11yds. It was reported that, “Conditions for this event were very tough, with a strong wind and intermittent rain.” Bill Ward (Stretford Wheelers) held the ‘12’ record then with 225.88 mls., demonstrating the strength of Reg’s ride. The following weekend (17th August, 1952) Reg went on to win the North Midlands Region ‘12’ in the Doncaster area, too, with a total of 222.661mls. The N.R.R.A. record attempt followed on 2nd November, 1952.

In 1953 Reg changed clubs to Doncaster Wheelers C.C., and made a promising start to the time trialling year with second place in the North Eastern ‘25’ (3rd May – 1h. 7m. 32s.) and first place in the North Eastern ‘50’ (31st May – 2h. 20m. 17s.) to win his own ‘Turner Shield’! Taking second place in the Clarence Wheelers Tricycle ‘25’ (23rd August – 1h. 9m. 16s.) behind Roy Lake (1h. 6m. 26s.) Reg went on to ride the Wessex ‘24’ (25th/26th July). He was the best of the five entrants with 389.2 mls., which, of course, also won him the ‘Tricycle Trophy’ for the second year running. Two hundred miles north on roads very familiar to them, mainly in Cheshire and Shropshire, John Arnold (Middleton C.C.) and Albert Crimes (Crewe Wheelers C.C.) were involved in the Mersey Roads Club and Championship 24 Hours: an event that was to become a legend in time trialling history. The following weekend (2nd August) Reg was in sixth place with 2h. 22m. 41s. in the North Road Memorial ‘50’. This was won by John Arnold with a new Competition Record of 2h. 13m. 20s., 36 seconds faster than Albert Crimes.

In early 1953 businessman, writer, road record enthusiast, and later Morley C.C. President, Norrie Ward, was invited to attend the Tricycle Association ‘Yorkshire Section’ weekend by President, Ed Green. He shared a room with Albert Crimes, “Now he, like John Arnold, was a modest chap; he didn’t go round advertising what he intended doing to records in the forthcoming season, instead he, and especially John, just got on with it”. Norrie didn’t recall John being present, “but he was ever a modest chap, and had he been, he might not even have been noticed in the clamour made by Turner of Dinnington, who had in November of 1952 beaten the N.R.R.A. 50 mls. trike record!” Reg was obviously very proud of his achievement: he was the first, after all, to break the 2 hours barrier, but his exuberance must have irritated Norrie! John Arnold quietly made a point by recording 2h. 15m. 57s. to win the ‘Turner Shield’, and the ‘Tricycle Trophy’, the following year, 1954.

Recipients of the Shield appear in the Tricycle Association Handbook. The fastest time appearing on the shield stands to Carl Saint (Yorkshire Road Club) with 1h. 54m. 43s. in 2009, with the previous fastest being 1h. 57m. 19s. recorded ten years earlier in 1999, (Steve Brown, East Bradford C.C.). The most prolific winner is Les Dawson of Tees-side R.C. with seven wins. Recently, in 2017, the National Competition Record for a single tricycle time trial was broken by Gavin Hinxman (Team Drag2Zero) with 1h. 49m.08s..
Terry Waring (North Lancs. R.C.) currently holds the Northern Road Records Association record with 1h. 50m. 48s. – 21st October, 1972. Dave Pitt (Charlotteville C.C.) currently holds the National Road Records Association figures with 1h. 41m. 58s. – 1991.”

‘The Bicycle’ magazine; ‘Cycling’ magazine; ‘Tricycle Association Gazette’; ‘The 24 hour Story’ by John Taylor; Norrie Ward’s Archives (Leeds); ‘Northern Road Records Association History’ by Peter Barlow; Road Records Association Handbook.


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