Last week the below image appeared on my twitter feed of Tom Simpson preparing his bike for the Monsal Hill Climb. I got in the touch with Chris Sidwell's to enquiry weather there were any more images of this ilk in his possession.
Images like these inspired me to ride my bike and I'd spend hours trawling the internet trying to find unseen and rare images of the some of the greatest cyclists and images of the surrounding culture. Chris was kind enough to provide two images of Simpson that I am happy to share with you below. In case you were foundering, Tom was his uncle (his mum's brother).
Here is Simpson in the 1957 British League of Racing Cyclists (BLRC) national hill climb championships on Mam Nick, which Tom won with a time of six minutes forty seconds. It is to be believed that is faster than the winner last years Rutland edition of the climb.
The above image is Tom in the 1957 CTT (then called RTTC) nationals a couple of weeks later on Winnats Pass. This was when, just as he was about to start, an official told him he couldn't ride without a locking ring on his fixed sprocket. Tom says in his autobiog 'Cycling is my Life' that very few of the other competitors had one, but he got off his bike and found one and fitted it, all while the clock was ticking still for him. He then raced up the hill!
Chris then went on to mention ... "I was just talking to 83 year-old John Bethel on Saturday who was there at Winnats that day, and he says if you took the time Tom was delayed by the official off his eventual time, he would have won the 1957 CTT title."
A lot of people think Simpson holds the record for Mam Nick (and I've heard this debated a few times), with a 6 minute 34-second ride the following year in the BLRC title race, but he was in fact beaten by one second in that race by Pete Graham from Lancashire (Bury).
I would like to thank Chris for his time and for providing me with the images and information.
You can see Chris's work via his website - www.chrissidwells.com
He has written 15 books on cycling for a variety of publishers over the last 12 years, and he's in the process of doing 2 more right now. He went into publishing books on his own this year with Barry Hoban's autobiography. Please take time to have a look and support his work here - www.thepedalpress.uk .