It was with great sadness I heard of the passing of an iconic clubman - our own Terry Walsh.
Although knowing of his illness in Hospital, there was always the fervent hope it could be alleviated to give him time to share a few more cycling stories around the cafe table; but it was not to be.
Terry’s start in the local cycling scene revolved, in the main, around two clubs, the East Bournemouth and the Pine City Road Club. He was also greatly involved with the Bournemouth Olympic riders, which involved some hectic Kermesse style racing. The latter two clubs still well remembered by some older active roadman to this day with great fondness.
One of his great joys in those days was his participation in the Bournemouth two-day event held every Easter, which prompted the ribbing comment from one of his clubmates (who shall be nameless) that he was now a “Stage Racing man.” This two day event, hosted by the Bournemouth Olympic Road Club was quite major in its day, with the likes of Bob Maitland and Ian Steel competing, and the cream of the British Road Teams including the Viking and BSA squads.
A British league of Racing Cyclists (BLRC) man all his life, Terry firmly supported the organisation set up by Percy Stannard in 1942 for the promotion of mass start racing on British roads - an organisation that was looked upon as being quite rebellious and edgy in it’s day
After initial schooling at St Peters Catholic School in Southbourne (a hot bed of young cycling talent) and early club life, marriage beckoned, and so his beloved Agnes came into his life and so too - eventually - five children. As all clubmen know marriage responsibilities, and the necessity of getting off the saddle to provide, curtails cycling activities and with Terry it was no exception.
Terry first came into my life some thirty years ago when, during a telephone conversation, he mentioned he was back on his bike after an absence and was looking for a CTC Wessex section to ride with and thought the Inters Group could provide some fitness.
He was immediately invited out on the group ride the following Sunday, and the appearance of this affable compact trackie style rider with a gloriously quiet sense of humour made him an instant welcome addition to the section. Unfortunately on that day we were due to ride the 100km plus Dorset Downs event, and what with the ride out to a Dorchester start from Bournemouth and the late return some 125 miles were clocked up, a baptism of fire. This fact Terry never let me forget and used to hang it around my neck like the proverbial albatross during our subsequent friendship.
Notwithstanding, he became an enthusiastic member of the section and rode with us constantly. He loved to lead us on his favourite ride to Nether Wallop where he was stationed during his RAF days and knew every lane and byway in the area. Lunchtime break was always taken at the local hostelry and became pretty boisterous to say the least.
I particularly remember on one occasion when participating in our annual 200km Dorset Coast event I “hit the wall” some 50km out from the finish. Terry gave up his own chance of a decent time in order to give me “his wheel” and nursed me back to the finish, sitting me down in a pub with a packet of crisps and a drink to recover. I remember this with great fondness. There were many instances of his assistance to young riders met on the club runs and no young lad on his bike would go without encouragement and club contact advice.
But there was one thing in which Terry was quite adamant, and that was regarding our group cycling trips away - be it in the UK, France, or Majorca. Although quite happy to ride long days, there was no way he would leave his beloved Agnes to join us. And when I first met Agnes I could understand why, a true gentle Irish lady who, with Terry happily kept an open house for all cyclists.
Unfortunately in the mid 90’s Terry developed a heart problem which culminated in a bypass operation which he took a great interest in, proudly showing me a packed file of information regarding the procedure in some detail he had assembled. After this, his convalescence was swift and a copy of a letter he wrote to his medical consultant details his build up on the bike culminating in a 93 mile epic during recovery.
As he admitted in the letter cycling was his obsession, but Terry’s cycling activities went way beyond one club or section, and other local clubs benefited from his time trialling organising skills and other projects, while still finding time to engage in the district cycling political scene to the benefit of all cyclists.
One particular project which I know made him so proud was the well known “Saturday Morning Burley Runs.” This started with just Terry, then one or two other riders joined and for some time this remained so, and I admired his perseverance, but persevere Terry did and as these things sometimes do it took off, and as a result many new riders joined in to experience the joy and good fellowship that cycling can offer.
It did your heart good to see the Burley cafe’s bulging with bikies, laughing and chatting with Terry sat in the throng enjoying every minute. He worked hard with the Wessex CTC in a number of capabilities, culminating in a wise chairmanship which he exercised with benign oversight. I particularly remember when the leadership became vacant Terry took on the heavy burden of the “Grid Iron” - our flagship mass participation event at short notice and with meticulous attention to detail ensured its continuing success.
I must confess to mainly listing my own experiences and happy memories of the years I spent on and off the bike with the most kindly and enthusiastic bikie I ever knew. I suppose that’s all we can do, but others will have their own warm memories of the encouragement and companionship of this irreplaceable true bike man.
If there is a peleton to come Terry, I know you will be there, on the front with that quiet smile. I hope you can make room for me in that team. God bless, Bob.