MEET Clive Parker - only Englishman ever to have finished in a world professional road race.
He did so last year after seeing his team-mates and many Continental riders retire.
-Together with his 1952 team-mates Parker will be in this year's world title race; he is a little apprehensive about his chances, feeling that for such a task his season's work has been hardly sufficient.
In this fact lies one of Parker's main "grumbles" at present.
"Why can't we have more professional and independent road racing than at present?" he asks. - Do amateurs really need. events like the three-dav Tour of East Midlands and the five-day Brighton to Newcastle?
"I should like to see more races organised like the recent Tour of the Peaks, where professionals can ride against the top B.L.R.C. independents," he added.
With the advent of a professional class riders have received little support in their endeavour to convince promoters to open their races to pros. and independents. The result is that Parker has had one road race in Britain this season. Fortunately, his sponsors, Hercules, have recently decided that their riders need special preparation for the Tour of Britain - and Parker and Co. are now on the Continent training hard.
Unselfish Team Man
Fair-haired Clive is a solid. workmanlike racing man, and as good a team man to be found anywhere. During his association with Dave Bedwell he has helped him tremendously during races, and Bedwell is the first to acknowledge Clive's unselfishness.
Clive had his first bicycle when three years old, and used to pedal up and down the pavement outside his Walthamstow home. It was at the age of 14, however, that he bought his first “man's" bicycle - a second-hand semi-sports model.
It was on this model that he started going out for rides by himself, undertaking journeys to Southend (about 40 miles from his home). The outward run took four hours - but the return occupied seven hours!
C.T.C. To B.L.R.C.
He joined the C.T.C. and met an old school friend, Harold Jones, who was already a member.
" It was with the C.T.C. that I learned the fundamentals of cycling," says Parker.
C.T.C. members quickly put him wise about the use of gears. and Parker, always quick to learn, soon had his ratio down from the 104-in. fixed which he pushed in his innocence.
A few of his C.T.C. friends were members of the B.L.R.C. East London R.C.. and on reaching the age of 16 Parker joined.- Before the 1946 season had ended he had tried two 2s-mile time trials and clocked a 1-9 and a 1-7. His father bought him a new bicycle for the beginning of the 1947 season, and in his first year as a junior he did very well in races.
Two seconds in his first two mass start events, a victory in his first ride "away" from home, the junior Staffordshire Grand Prix at Wolverhampton, seventh in the London road race championship, gave him encouragement.
After winning the 1948 London senior championships, he had his first trip abroad, and almost in the same month turned independent for Paris Cycles. This was the Parker who had discovered that racing was to be his career, and had not hesitated in branching out into the uncertain and hard life.
Later that season he finished sixth in the Brighton-to-Glasgow race. His best year, 1949, still with Paris Cycles, saw him take the London senior 100-mile T.T. championship (4-26); clock a 58-32, and win the London road racing title all within eight days.
Suffering from toothache but resisting the urge to retire, he finished fourth in the Brighton-Glasgow and had further trips to France and to Eastern Europe for the Tour of Poland.
Following the Polish Tour he had a bout of blood pressure, and it was then, in 1950, that he started his food reform going on to a very strict diet, which he has since maintained.
Every day since Parker had eaten a minimum of 2 lb. of fruit.
"It has cured me of blood pressure," he said, "and I have had no recurrence."
A switch in sponsoring came and Parker joined Dayton Cycles. About the same time, Dave Bedwell and George Lander were coming into prominence, and although Parker was still well up in the finishing lists, the Bedwell, Lander duels were claiming the headlines.
For a time during the 1951 winter season Parker chopped down trees to help maintain his fitness - fitness he needed because at the start of 1952 he changed from independent status to that of a professional.
During the coming winter h- hopes to stay on the Continent, riding at every available opportunity on the " boards " and concentrating on madisons. For one day Clive Parker hopes to be able to ride in a "Six Day " - an event which appeals to him greatly.
Since 1950 his frames have had 72 degrees parallel angles. His original frame size of 22 in. has been dropped in favour of 21 3/4 in - and Clive says that the 1/4 inch reduction makes all the difference to his comfort when racing.
Good luck in Zurich, Clive!