Last year we posted an article about ‘rising star’ of the Conisbrough Ivanhoe Cycling Club, Barry ‘Bas’ Breedon. We ended the article by asking if anyone could tell us more about Barry or share any photographs of him in action. Luckily, Barry himself read the article and got in touch! He provided us with some great images to accompany his story and recently met with Heritage Doncaster’s Assistant Museums Officer Nicola, who has written the following updated piece.
Barry ‘Bas’ Breedon was born in Doncaster in 1939. He started cycling at the age of 16 and became a member of the Conisbrough Ivanhoe Cycling Club. This club was founded in 1930, and saw a post-war boom in membership. Bas experienced a great sense of personal achievement from his cycling. He does not believe that he had a natural ability as a cyclist, but his single-minded approach and determination to achieve better and better results meant that he soon came to prominence as a leading figure in the club.
In 1962, he took first place in the Conisbrough Road Race, and was a strong contender in the 1963 National 25 miles Road Cycling Championship, ultimately coming in 7th place. By the following year, Bas was the rising star of the Conisbrough Ivanhoe Cycling Club. In July 1964 he broke the British 25-mile record in the National Time Trial Championship, finishing in first place in a time of 54 minutes and 23 seconds. The following month saw him slash 2 minutes and 35 seconds from the 50 mile record, when he won the Harrogate St Christopher’s 50 Time Trial in a time of one hour, 50 minutes and 3 seconds. 1964 turned out to be a very prolific year for Bas, as in total he rode 27 open events at 25 and 50 miles, and won 23 of these, and coming second in a further two.
Bas continued to go from strength to strength in 1965. He still held the record for both the 25 and the 50 mile National Time Trial. He set a new championship record in the 50 mile race, held in Lincolnshire, of 1 hour 54 minutes and 18 seconds. This was his best year however, as the following year he lost his 25 mile cycling title, when he was beaten into third place by a 21-year-old cyclist from Sheffield. All in all, Bas was a member of five Championship teams at 25, 50, and 100 miles.
In 1966 Bas was chosen to represent Great Britain in the men’s team time trial at the World Cycling Championships held in Germany. This event was a road race over a route of 60 miles took place on 26th August 1966. However, conditions were poor and the British team were the last of the seventeen teams to finish, Bas having to retire before the end of the race.
Bas continued to race throughout the rest of the decade, but he couldn’t quite capture his former glory. However, in 1967 he took second place in the 100 mile time trial held at Huddersfield, and third place in the Road Time Trials Council 50-mile international race held in Berkshire. He also came second, along with Mick McNamara, in the Coventry Alliance two-man cycling team time trial. Later in the same year he also managed to break the course record at Coventry in the 50 mile race, shaving 1 minute and 54 seconds from the previous record. The organisers had promised to double the prize money of £5 if the record was broken!
As a young cyclist, Bas developed an incredible focus towards his sport. He believes that for success to be possible, cycling had to come before everything else in his life, and as a young man it became the be-all-and-end-all to him. If a training session was arranged, then he would leave his job as a plumber on the dot, even if it meant leaving a customer without water!
Unlike other club cyclists, Bas chose to train all year round, rather than ease off in the winter when the social season began. He was methodical in his approach and would always spend every Saturday afternoon cleaning and polishing his bicycle, and ensuring that his competition gear was spotless. This ensured that he looked intimidating to his Sunday morning opponents! Bas always preferred time trials to road races, as he felt that the best rider was unlikely to win a road race, whereas a time trial was a competition against one’s own best time.
Following his marriage in 1967, Bas gave up cycling completely. Because he felt so strongly that he could only achieve his cycling goals if the sport remained his number one priority, he was not prepared to put cycling before his family and so his priorities changed. However, he did make a couple of comebacks. In 1974, at the age of 35, Bas entered the Barnsley R. C. 50-mile Time Trial, and won the race in a time of one hour, 57 minutes and 11 seconds. He also returned again to cycling in 1982 and has retained a life-long interest in the sport. He watched with interest as cycling received more funding and became more professional. The woollen vests he once wore to keep out the cold are a far cry from the Lycra suits of a professional cyclist today!
Two years ago, at the age of 78, Bas once more got back on his bicycle. Today, he cycles as a means to safeguard his health and to keep himself active as long as possible. His strong sense of achieving a personal goal still remains.
Fascinating fact! – Bas is the last National Champion to have to have a bell on his bicycle by law, and also the first National Champion to win without one!
Thanks very much to Barry and his wife Sandra for taking the time to come and speak with Doncaster’s Cycling Stories. If Barry has inspired you to get involved, please get in touch!