Askern CC became my life: Ken’s Cycling Story

Ken’s cycling story began in his youth when he was often to be found riding to and from school on his Dad’s old bike, first to Green Top Primary School and later in 1956, to Thorne County Secondary School for Boys. Ken writes:

“One day I remember riding home to Willow Grove when I was overtaken by my Uncle Dennis, who had been a member of Thorne Paragon Cycling Club. He asked if I could ride at this pace for longer periods. I said ‘Yes’, then off he went. Later Uncle Dennis gave me a fancy racing bike. I rode that bike almost every day, riding with my uncle and eventually with Askern CC, just to see if I liked it. I did.

In 1960 I left school and found employment as an Apprentice Gas Fitter, riding to work in Thorne every day on that bike – my pride and joy. I joined Askern CC that year. Sunday club runs, hostel weekends, tours – all enjoyed to the endth degree. During my apprenticeship, the Gas Depot in Thorne was closed and I was transferred to Donny. Again I rode to work every day and one day a week I attended day release at Sheffield College of Technology. I rode there on the bike every week, except in really bad weather.

Ken on a typical hostelling weekend, 1960. Original image courtesy Ian Blair and Askern CC.

By this time, I was fit enough and confident enough to ride in Askern’s 10-mile time trials in season every Wednesday evening, which meant around trip of 30 miles. It was easy to keep track of yearly miles – Ian and myself would log 7 to 8 thousand miles a year! My most memorable trip undertaken was a 14-night hostel trip in Norway, but there were others including a 13-night tour of Wales (three of us could not afford at the time to go with the club on a more expensive tour).

Norway, 1962. Press photo, courtesy of Ian Blair and Askern CC.

Askern CC became my life. I remember saying to my lovely girlfriend that I could get her a bike – she had complained that I saw more of the bike than her. She replied that if I wanted a girlfriend on a bike, I should get another girlfriend! We are still together, 53 years wed this year.

Ken’s Reliability Trial certificate from Askern C.C.

Askern CC had many successes with my Uncle Dennis, Alan Robson and Peter Hill – British Best All Rounder team, fastest over 25, 50 and 100 miles. Peter went on to race in France and Uncle Dennis won a road race on the Isle of Mann called the Mannin Veg.

Sadly, Askern CC, like a lot of clubs, no longer exists today. However, we have been getting together for reunions that have been very successful for all, producing friendly banter and laughter, whilst remembering old times and telling stories, which may or not be correct! A few of us are still riding as loners now and again, getting together for an easy ride wearing with pride our replicated cycling jersey.

Still smiling at the end of the British Heart Foundation’s Heart of York 40-mile bike ride. Ken and his Grandson Ben on the left. Image courtesy Ken Downing.

Today I ride my pride and joy for the benefit of others less fortunate than me. In 2010 I suffered a heart attack, which I recovered from with lots of care from my wife and family. From the NHS/Leeds City Council’s Heart Watch Group, I got to know about the British Heart Foundation and its search for treatments to reduce deaths from heart diseases. Apart from my own attempts to raise sponsor money by riding The Heart of York and other events, I am now the Lead Fundraising Volunteer in Leeds.”

Ken is fully recovered from his heart attack and reports that he is “very fit for a 73-year-old, 74 in April.” Thank you to Ken for taking the time to write up his memories and get involved with Doncaster’s Cycling Stories.

4 thoughts on “Askern CC became my life: Ken’s Cycling Story

  1. Kenneth Downing March 1, 2019 — 11:11 am

    Many thanks to cyclingstories for giving me the chance to input a little of my Donny cycling history. It has opened up many more.

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    1. Thanks again for your contribution to the project Ken!

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      1. Kenneth Downing March 1, 2019 — 5:23 pm

        There is more where that comes from. We at Askern C C are in contact with others who may wish to contribute.

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  2. Kenneth Downing March 24, 2019 — 4:42 pm

    Our Ian Blair who put the history of Askern C C on paper and submitted it to DART has already updated it. All interested parties will be given a copy. I have my copy and have read it already. It has revived even more memories from my Askern C C days.

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