1950s Biographies - Albert Keenahan

Albert B Keenahan was born in mid-1930 in the Haslingden district of Lancashire; the son of Albert and Ethel Keenahan. He had two younger sisters Beryl and Barbara [from info available online at FreeBMD]

Albert joined the League in 1951 when a work mate told him he was temperamentally unsuited to Time Trialling. The mile-eaters of Tame Valley sorted out his training, he started racing in 1952 and being usually in the first six gained a first class licence in July. He turned Indy in 1956, riding for Wearwell Cycles, Racing Cyclist Journal and SDS (Shelmerdine Duplicating Services) with support from component makers such as Cyclo Gears, GB Brakes, Mansfield Saddles, Williams Chainsets and Airlite Hubs. In 1958, like all the Indies, he was told to turn Pro or get out; and he retired in 1960 when his first daughter was born.


Sponsorship by 'Cyclo' gears didn't stop you using the first Campy QR hubs! Or Clement tubs, Fiamme rims, GB brakes bars and stem, Mansfield saddle, Williams C34 chainset, Webb Quill pedals, Wearwell frame. Still proudly displayed in Bert's shed, restored by Ellis Briggs.

Albert Keenahan
with Pete Jepson

Credit: formerly online at

Albert rode his first race at 13, and as his father was a cinema manager he earned pocket money by riding round cinemas in Manchester delivering film reels. He joined the Manchester Spartans, who rode "whatever the weather". He progressed to riding Time Trials, then the new "massed starts".
He trained as a radio technician in the RAF, worked on the first computer at Manchester University, then moved to Ferranti to work on the first experimental fax machine and colour TV. Later he worked on the 'Blue Streak' missile programme.
Bert and Margaret now live in a neat modern house in Newhey, near Rochdale, under the lee of the Pennines which were his favourite racing ground. The tougher the race, the better he rode. At 73 Bert still rides 60 miles a week, which wouldn't have impressed him when he was younger! [This dates the original article at 2003 - Ed]
"One day Laurie Manns [another Manchester Indy] and I decided to ride to Brighton. We got to Worcester about dinnertime, and I said, 'Shall we stop for something to eat?' I can see his face now - he just said, 'Do you really think it's worth it?' So I had to keep riding, eating out of my back pocket. Then at Chipping Sodbury Laurie said, 'Shall we stop to eat now?' so I just said 'Do you really think it's worth it?' and kept going! Mind you, it was dark when we got to Brighton!"
Another long ride was the result of a phone call at work from Bev Wood and Ian Steel. "Meet us at Marble Arch on Friday at 12, we're going to France!" Together with Mick Coward, they rode to the Riviera and went training with the Pro's.
After a week in which they found the Pro's were in a completely different class they rode back home.
In 1953 Bert wanted to qualify to ride the Tour of Britain, which meant being in the first ten in Brighton - Glasgow. So on the last stage, and placed 14th, he ploughed straight off the front from the start at Carlisle. A break of eight formed which in pouring rain stayed away to the finish in Newcastle, Bert sprinted to 4th, and finished 10th overall to qualify for the Tour.
The Tour was a disaster; on the first day Bert was left behind with a broken hub spindle, no team support materialised. He chased alone for 127 miles, but developed a septic foot and abandoned. In 1954 (The Quaker Oats Tour) he was 10th, and Lanterne Rouge in 1955.
The Manx Premier International Road Race in the Isle of Man on 17th June 1959 is still remembered as the day when the fabulous Fausto Coppi rode the Clypse circuit. But there were 25 continental riders in 5 teams; including 3 Tour de France winners - beside Coppi. [The full start sheet is available online here - Ed] Completing the start sheet were 53 British based Pro's! Among them was "A.B. Keenahan, Tame Valley" No. 75.
By the end of the year Coppi was dead, succumbing to a form of malaria caught on an African hunting trip with Raphael Geminiani.
The Pro's were deserted by the new BCF formed in Feb 1969, there were no BCF races for them. But Dave Orford of Derby Halcyon organised over 150 races for the Pro's. ... Orford wrote combative articles in 'The Racing Cyclist' (Ed. Bob Frood-Barclay FSC, price 6d) under the name 'Drofro' (Geddit?)
Albert still rides a bike for money. But now it's for other people. In the hilly "Over the Edge" charity ride last year he got an award for raising 276, the second largest amount, for charity. And he's still sponsored - by 'Bon Appetit' Sandwich shop in Milnrow.

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