Following the inception of the East Sussex Cycling Association in 1946 by stalwarts Roy Humphrey and Bill Collins, there can be no doubt that the major contributor towards the success and esteem in which the Association is now held is due to the unfailing efforts of one person, namely MICK BURGESS ably supported for many years by his wife, Sylvia.
Mick Burgess was a major character in the East Sussex Cycling Association. He took over the position of Racing Secretary in 1976 and continued in that demanding role until ill health forced him to stand down in July 2008.
Mick encouraged numerous cyclists to take an active interest in their Club and Association programmes and his name is synonymous with the success of the Association today. During his many years at the helm, the Assocation attracted a world champion, Graeme Obree, who in June 1996 set a course record of 48 minutes 55 seconds on the Eastbourne Road 25 mile course (a time unbeaten to this day!)
Along with all his practical work for both ESCA and his Club, Lewes Wanderers CC, Mick was a passionate cyclist who loved time trialling and racing. He raced at all distances and amongst his many successes and club championships, he won the Lewes Best All Rounder (BAR) competition in 1979.
Over the years Mick helped, supported and encouraged several generations of club cyclists and is greatly missed.
Roy Humphrey was the man, who for more than 50 years, did more than anyone else for ALL aspects of bike racing in East Sussex. With Bill Collins, he inspired the creation of the East Sussex Cycling Association in 1946 and half a century later was still leading it. He was ESCA’s general secretary for all but one of those years, when in 1955 Geoff Willcocks filled in; even then he retained the key job of racing secretary.
Roy was with the Uckfield & District CC in the ‘thirties’. During the Second World War he rode (and raced) with various clubs from Southampton to Yorkshire. He returned to the Uckfield club and when it was wound up in the ‘sixties’ he joined the Eastbourne Rovers. Keeping ESCA in good order was only one of his many jobs in the county’s cycling world – as timekeeper, promoter, commissaire, handicapper and general organiser. Time trialling, road racing and track racing have all benefited from his hard work and experience. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of riders, past and present and any crumb of information he could glean about racing rules, personalities, highlights and absurdities, from first-hand experience or at second-hand, was stored away. He used this expertise to benefit bike racing not only in our county but further afield, while helping run the Isle of Man cycling weeks and some of the classic 24 hour events.
Roy somehow found time to earn a living as an electrician, which makes a quote from the ‘fifties’ event more appropriate: that ESCA members enjoyed a warm feeling of security that Roy Humphrey was able and willing to be the dynamo of East Sussex cycling.
MICHAEL (MICK) RABBETTS
In about 1984 Mick became involved with the Lewes Wanderers CC, and he then took the position of ESCA Chairman for many years. Mick is best remembered for his sense of humour and was a regular contributor to the Association’s ‘Bonk’ magazine. His actions were belied by a diffident and gentle manner and he was one of the best loved characters in ESCA.
In his racing life Mick favoured the longer distances of 100 miles and 12 hours, and he promoted the Association 100 mile time trial many times and at one time was Time Trial Secretary for the Surrey/Sussex Vets.
Along with editing and producing ‘The Lewes Wanderer’ their Club newsletter, Mick wrote books, one on De Laune CC and a slim home printed ‘History of the East Sussex Cycling Association’ to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Association.
Mick died suddenly on the 11th September 2004 having not long moved to Market Harborough.
Ken Griffiths was a popular member of the Uckfield & District CC in the 1950’s and was the first winner of the ESCA 12 hour in 1950. He is perhaps best remembered in latter years as the marshal at Boship Roundabout for all ESCA events (living as he did on the A22 near Boship!)
Ken’s cycling story began in 1948 when he paid £10. for a hand-built Ferris racing bike and from then on he went from strength to strength. He could not only hold his own against most of his younger fellow club members but also joined in all their youthful escapades. He finished his racing career many years later as a member of the Eastbourne Rovers CC and then threw himself enthusiastically into marshalling, as well as regularly riding with CTC. He and his wife Ivy were a most hospitable couple and are remembered still for the teas they hosted at their home for cyclists.
With his death at the age of 87, ESCA lost another remarkable character and clubman.
Bill was a Life Member and past President of the Eastbourne Rovers Cycling Club, having joined in 1927. He was representing the Eastbourne Rovers at the Inaugural Meeting of the ESCA and was a very familiar figure at their events, especially the 12 hour, where he was always assisting at the feeding stations. He raced before and after the Second World War, and was also a prominent member of the local Section of the CTC, Tricycle Association and Fellowship of Kent and Sussex Cyclists.
Ted was also a Life Member and past President of the Eastbourne Rovers Cycling Club, having also joined in 1927. Through the years he held most official positions in that club, and in particular was a timekeeper both for the club and ESCA and at Preston Park Track in the 1950s. In addition to administrative duties Ted also rode time trials, both before and after the Second World War, but his interest in cycling embraced all aspects of the sport, being a Life Member of the CTC. He also represented the Eastbourne Rovers at the Inaugural Meeting of the ESCA and became their first Chairman.
Geoff Willcocks was one of the ‘characters’ of the East Sussex Cycling Association. He had joined the Lewes Wanderers CC in 1953, but his racing career was brief and most notable for once being the uncrowned king of DNS of East Sussex – Geoff did not ‘do’ early morning!
He was Secretary of the Wanderers for 26 years, and perhaps his best legacy to local cycling was the Lewes Wanderers Evening Criterium Series, which still runs today. He was also Secretary of the old Sussex BCF Division, which involved running the track league at Preston Park.
He was “Alsoran”, the Lewes scribe, for the ‘Bonk’ magazine for many years and will be remembered for his ‘vintage’ motor cars!
Jack Southerden was present at the Inaugural Meeting of the East Sussex Cycling Assocation in 1946 representing his club, Hastings & St. Leonards CC.
He joined that club in 1934, after a spell with the short-lived Hastings Wheelers. In 1949 he began to keep a detailed daily mileage record required for accreditation by the 300,000 mile club, and by the Autumn of 1997 he had achieved 500,000 miles.
Many of his miles were down to racing, supplemented heavily by the need to ride out to and back from events. He was ESCA BAR in 1950 and probably clocked up more ESCA racing miles than anyone else. He rode 14 ESCA 12 hour events totalling 2,837 miles, excluding the 180 for his one DNF. He also completed 27 ESCA 100s.
Deteriorating eyesight restricted his cycling in later years but he was a familiar sight around the lanes of East Sussex and at ESCA events.
Sean Yates started his racing career as a 17 year old with the East Grinstead CC, and became probably the most successful East Sussex rider. He was the first rider to do a ‘53’ minutes 25 mile in an East Sussex CA event and after his professional racing career ended he can still be seen at local Association and club events.
- Breaking the 10 mile time trial competition record twice in one day in 1979
(not been done before or since)
- National 25 mile Champion in 1980 (first big win)
- World and Olympic Team Pursuit record holder in Moscow in 1980 (if only for 10 minutes)
- Leader’s jersey in Paris-Nice in 1988
- Tour of Spain stage win in 1988
- Tour de France time trial win in l988
- Philly US Pro win in 1994
- Tour de France yellow jersey in 1994
- 5th in Paris-Roubaix in 1994
- World Masters Individual Pursuit Champion and World record holder in 2000
- Silver medal in the World Masters Road Race in 2003
- Competition record in the 12 hours Tandem (304 miles) with Zak Carr in 2005
- Bronze medal in the National 50 mile championships in 2005 (26 years after National 25 mile bronze medal in 1979)
- Competition record in 25 mile Tandem (43.44) with Michael Hutchinson in 2006 (27 years after first competition record)
- 281 miles in National 12 hours championship in 2001 aged 51 (competition record for rider fitted with a pacemaker?)