“I’m going to show you how it’s done!”: Mike’s Cycling Story

An article in Doncaster Free Press prompted Mike Charlton to get in touch and share a handful of fond memories and wonderful images of his own and his father Sam’s experiences in the local cycling fraternity. Mike writes:

“In the ’30s and ’40s my father used to ride to and from work on his bicycle, which then led into socialising with other cyclists on Sunday club runs with local cycling clubs. This was the norm in those days, as for most it was the one and only form of transport that was affordable. The runs then developed further into racing, some for pleasure and some for gain, in one way or another.

Forties era club run. Image courtesy Mike Charlton.

My father Sam was in the Brodsworth Racing CC and was a serious competitor to the Doncaster Wheelers CC. To be fair each had their own ‘heroes’, however my father was then part of a team that got invited all over the country. He scooped many a track prize that furnished the home – from carpet cleaners, to silver cutlery, clocks and even a tropical fish aquarium! One of Brodsworth’s top riders, Arthur ‘Slim’ Maxfield of Childers Street, was a team mate of my father and went on to become the Track Manager for the UK team at the Rome Olympics.

A team pursuit on the Brodsworth shale track with Arthur Maxfield in lead out and Sam Charlton in third spot. Image courtesy Mike Charlton.

The Brodsworth team mainly concentrated on track racing, whereas the Doncaster Wheelers concentrated on the road and time trials. The red shale tracks, including Brodsworth Miners Welfare, Askern Miners Welfare and Thurcroft, were regular venues for racing. Races attracted crowds that queued and clogged Doncaster on a Bank Holiday to watch top cyclists from all over the country, including Reg Harris from the Manchester Wheelers.

Sam Charlton racing on Brodsworth track in the ’40s/’50s era. Image courtesy Mike Charlton.

Having retired from racing in the ’50s, after I had been taken all over with him and my mother, my father concentrated on home life until I took up racing. After one particular time trial based in Hatfield, my father said “If that’s the best you can do, I’m going to show you how it’s done!” So he did and in the early seventies, now both riding for the Hemsworth CC, he won his first veterans league 25-mile time trial up at York, beating my time in a local event by several minutes!

Sam Charlton riding in a time trial in the late ’60s. Image courtesy Mike Charlton.

I personally rode the local tracks and won a few prizes in open events. I had the good fortune to ride against some good riders in international meetings in Leicester, at the first banked velodrome track used for the world championships. My experience of riding against Daniel Morelon, the French National champion and eventually the National Olympic Team Manager, will never be forgotten…even as he passed me at speed.”

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