Here at Cycling Weekly we’ve recently been reminiscing about the good old days of cyclo-cross. Back then – before the UCI went nuts with its tape measures and rulebook – courses would include river crossings, fallen trees and whatever other obstacle happened to be available.

It seems quite a few people share our fondness for old fashioned cross. Included amongst them is Philippe Maertens, Radioshack Press Officer and self-confessed cyclo-cross fanatic. He just dropped us a link to this gem of a You Tube clip – as did a reader called Sterv.

We’re not sure exactly where this retro cyclo-cross film comes from (somewhere in the North East) but we know the chap in red making the Le Mans style start was manager of Tescos at Kingston Park!

Sit back, turn up the chuckling commentators and enjoy the thrills and spills of cyclo-cross at its best.

Is cross going soft?


  • Lynne

    WOW – great footage and bril to see the comments above from some of the riders who actually took part. A feature in CW would be great – especially with interviews from the riders and what they’re up to now.

  • Mark

    Absolute class piece of archive film. I thought the roads were bad today, compared with some of those roads they are like billiard tables. Not sure about cyclo-cross looked more like a triathlon to me running, cycling and swimming!

  • Phil Hull

    Interested in the comment “was this the first mountain bike”. I have contended for a long time that tyhe first mountain bikes were “created” here, not in Marin or wherever. My club (Elizabethan CC from Wolverhampton) had “roughing runs” in the winter because they were good training, improved bike handling and great fun – it is perhaps no wonder that a small club like this had 2 world championship cross riders (Bill Radford and Maurice Broadbent) and a vets National Champion (Tony Summerfield). The bikes were any old frame, 26 inch wheels with speedway tyres, worn out road gears which still worked with small chainrings (mine were 44 which was small for the early 60s) and up to 28 on the back! (A worn campag gran sport would take a much bigger range than it was originally designed for!).

    Perhaps the concept would make an article for CW.

  • Eric Potts

    I’m the Eric Potts, of the Barnesbury CC in the film, although I was not the “Head of Finance at Gateshead” unfortunately. The commentator was Bill Baty 1958 and 59 National road race champion. Who has a way with words. I remember I rode a 66 fixed wheel and was first junior to finish. That river was freezing. The course started at Middleton, Northumberland and covered the Shaftoe crags and peat bogs, which you can see was almost impossible to ride in parts Other Barnesbury CC riders were Tommy Clements, the pit bull, Ken Owens, John Buckle and Lenny Shields. Wev all got washe din the barn in a metal bucket(for 40 riders) we were dirtier after a wash than before. The event was the 1960 Tyneside Vagabonds cyclo cross, held in November of that year. Happy days By the way Wes Clayton, who rode the 1959 Milk Race was one of the hardest men I ever knew.

  • rob atkinson

    i am the rider of the first mountain bike at the the ox middleton northumberland about 1960.i dont think the sitty up and beg handlebars were an advantage[IN THIS CASE]also gears were probably better than fixed wheel i think.i might of won if the joker[BILL BATEY]THE COMMENTATOR]hadnt moved the course throughdeep part of the river.heasked if i could swim before the event;I CANT].another dissadvantage i or we had road30mile tothe event and 30 mile back.cyclo cross was really a big joke them days but peoplenjoyed etc them days[NOT TO MUCH TRAFFIC] cheers ROB ex tyne velo PS JUST OUT OF CURIOSITY]is there many can match this.two of us road fromBLAYDONdown toSKIPTON one saturday.i raced sunday morning[APPROX 50 MILE JUNIOR RACE]then road back after the race.[NEEDLESS TO SAY I DIDNT DO WELL IN THE RACE] but it was worth it just to see JIMMY SAVILLE and his BIG car/I think he started the races off, ONCE AGAIN CHEERS ROB[CRACKERS]EX TYNE VELO

  • Bill Leadbitter

    The comentator on the cyclo cross is Bill Batey a well known rider and character in these parts I spoke to him Today Sunday at the Swinburn Arms stamfordam He is really interested in seeing the clip . And he was well chuffed with the interest surrounding the comments. He is a member of the tyne velo Road club based in Blaydon rugby club. If anyone would like to pass a message to him Go on and leave a message on our notice board

  • old hedgey

    Yes, there will be classic photos from Ron Good’s archive posted on the new site in the next few days. Includes the near-drownings in the Cwmcarn event (1962) and the best ‘headlong into a bog’ shot of all time

  • Roger

    I’m not sure how this came to be online, but I have in my possession the full video on DVD. I believe (though stand to be corrected) this was a Tyneside Vagabonds promotion from 1960 / 1961. The start is at the Ox in Middleton, near Morpeth. Commentary is by Bill Baty, and was added much more recently when the cine film was transferred to DVD. I believe it was Bill who moved the course markers from the shallow part of the river to the deepest part!

    You should see what happens after when they all try to wash themselves out of a single small tin bowl, and their bikes by dunking them in the river!

  • barry davies

    think the commantery is by Willy thompson ??? for more great cyclo cross races and also old classic road races go to and enter ‘cyclo cross’ – cycling – ‘tom simpson’ – milan san remo loads of old Milk Race/Tour of Britain.

  • martin

    fantastic, love the guy’s commentary… “that bloke’s a football referee… trains by running backwards… he’s been run over twice” pricless

  • kieran

    Tim you just got to read the forum more thats where all this lovely goodness is getting poached from ;0)

  • Steve

    I reckon it’s in an area to the west of Morpeth – he refers to Shaftoe Crag which is near a National Trust place called Wallington Hall. Brilliant film – I love the guy with a bike that looks a bit like a mountain bike!

  • Tim

    This is a fantastic find and the commentary makes it even better. What a gem.

    I love the fixed gears and single speeds throughout , even bar following (dare I say aerodynamic) brake cables (2.28) and the ‘mountain bike’ (4.30). That bike is particularly interesting. Could it be the world’s first mountain bike to change history? Who’s the rider?

    A very historic film. Let’s just keep organising events like this, outside UCI regs.

    Thanks for the post and it’s not even a Friday!