Cyclo Cross Short Cut


Cyclo Cross Race near Morpeth, at Ox Inn Mitford, Scots Gap and Bolam - Northumberland north of Newcastle - Circa 1960. A race organised by the Tyneside Vagabonds.

“They’re supposed to stick to a certain course you know but a few keep taking shortcuts and that…” Bill Baty

Amateur cycle club riders race through the picturesque Northumberland countryside, traversing a deep river, not the style of Cyclo Cross circuit we know today. At one river crossing the event turns into a bike tossing contest to see who can throw their bike the furthest across the deep river. Bike abuse en masse. Tyne Velo veteran Bill Baty’s commentary was overdubbed in the 1990’s. Baty talks about a local referee who was run over twice while running backwards along public roads when out training.

He’s actually a referee that last one, he actually referees quite high class football matches, and he goes out training for refereeing and he runs backwards down the road, he’s been run over TWICE, ai he’s a referee!

This is where they have the problem of finding their bikes!

Actually this wasn’t a proper crossing, it was a spot where someone had moved the arrows - yours truly!

I think he needs a pint or two to get him outa there.

That must have been the first of the mountain bikes in the early sixties…

He used to be the head of the cheese counter at the Co-op at Wallsend.” Bill Baty

The film features an early version of a mountain bike ridden by Rob Atkinson from the Tyne Velo - Velo Mountain club. It's difficult to follow Rob because he embellishes the details with new "insights" each time he writes. Rob Atkinson is one of those old hard-man bike riders, tougher than a $3 steak, and from the same mould as The Crank. Old bike riders always embellish stories about their bike racing days, more miles, better placings, harsher conditions. With the years the stories grow and Rob Atkinson is laying it on thick here.

Rob says he'd ridden 30 mile to the race and back, then in his next comment the distance had expanded to 40 mile to the start and back. Not letting you forget it equals 80.

“40 MILE TO START AND BACK = 80” Rob Atkinson

 Rob's description is complete with riders "drowning in a deep river crossing". The Crank made up a similar tall tale earlier this year, where Sandy Davidson drowned in a deep river crossing while competing in a club Teams Time Trial. Here it is in real life captured on film.

The cyclo cross was 1958/59 at Ox Inn Mitford near Morpeth. I was the rider with the mountain bike…..also invented the mountain bike ha, ha … Bill Baty added commentary years later. He asked if we could swim some of us couldn’t, so Bill in his wisdom moved the markers to deeper water. (Some of us nearly drowned …. 4 riders still missing, might of drowned ….. maybe some did, cyclo cross was just a big joke them days to lots of the riders. I like lots of others road (sic) 30 mile to the event then 30 mile back) … Rob Atkinson ... Ex Velo Mountain