An Interview with Ex-Cyclo-cross Professional Barry Davies

I must admit that I really didn’t know too much about Cyclo-cross until my pal Sergio showed me his Cyclo-cross bike. I was intrigued. Why would someone take a nice road bike and put those knobby tires on it? Apparently there are many good reasons.

A brief description of Cyclo-cross from Wikipedia.

I received a very nice e-mail from Andrew Ward over at Thomson Bike Tours asking me if I would consider republishing a blog post on Cyclemania. I get lots of messages like his and (on the most part) decline the requests as the posts are either not all that good or there is some commercial intent. This one intrigued me.

What follows is Andrew’s post. I think I may have another reason to get a new bike!

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Thomson Bike Tours recently chatted with Barry Davies who was active as a cyclo cross professional from 1968 to 1976 & 1979 to 1982. A key member of the Ron Kitching cyclo cross team in the 70’s and 80’s, Barry took on the best of the Belgians when De Vlaeminck, amongst others, was racing – no mean feat in itself. We caught up with him in North Wales where he now lives and still, occasionally, races time trials. Maybe we´ll see him on the Iron Cross race in the USA soon!

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When did you first get started in cycling & cycle racing and how?

My uncle gave me a bike when I was about 11 and used to ride about 30 kms to see him and visit my relatives, it was just a 3 speed ’sit up’ bike. Then at my boys only school we had a lady teacher who was a keen cyclist and she organised rides at weekends in the summer, I started riding time trials when I was 13 and also school boy road races. I was also very successful at running and so from being 16 till 19 I did no cycling only running and made the short list for the English team in the 1966 Commonwealth games in the 3000m steeplechase. I then was injured and started to work with some cyclists and they suggested that I rode cyclo cross, in my first race I was last but soon was finishing in the top 5.

What type of cycle racing have you done and why?

Think I have ridden over 400 cyclo cross races and I think have won 143 in total. I rode 5 world championships and finished 13th in Spain in 1974.

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Also rode most of the pro road races in the UK from July till the start of the cross season every year and also we had a track series every week on both a concrete track and also a grass track too.

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Your favourite riding location and why?

Well living here in north Wales I am lucky that we have beautiful riding areas with the mountains and the sea.

I enjoyed riding in the Benidorm region of Spain where i went for training and also Mallorca and also rode some pro races in California in the early 80’s despite the 5am start time!!

Your personal favourite racing location and why?

I think Belgium because of the crowds and the people – when I was racing.

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For watching any race – Italy.

Favourite pro-race to watch on TV?

Any race, although flat tour stages are a bore some times

What are your plans for racing in the future?

None really, but would love to ride the Iron Cross race in the USA, but don’t think I have the legs anymore (lol)!

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How did you prepare for a race and what rituals do you have?

Don’t forget that when I rode there were no sports drinks and energy bars.

Although I did all of the early tests for the energy drinks for Glaxo here in the UK in the 70’s

So plenty of rice pudding & Mars bars.

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Tubs or clincher?

Tubs, you can keep on riding when you puncture unlike clinchers, very important in X races.

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What has been your best cycling moment?

More than one really.

  1. Winning my first 3 peaks cyclo cross race.
  2. Finishing 3rd in the West Flanders open cyclo cross cyclo champs in Belgium.
  3. Riding a cyclo cross madison live on TV in Belgium on a Sunday afternoon with Jeff Morris against Roger de Vlaeminck and Frans Verbeck, we were leading till 2 very burly Belgian guys from Watneys team pointed out that it would be good for Belgium TV if Roger and Frans won!
  4. Getting into early breaks in road races with riders who i read about in cycling magazines e.g. Hugh Porter, Lucien van Impe, Barry Hoban . Riding x races with top road men like Frans Verbeck, Luis Ocaña, Henni Kuyper, Roger de Vlaeminck.

Favourite all-time cyclist and why?

Roger and Eric de Vlaeminck they were so different. Roger was a real super star and he new it, but Eric was the better cyclist and a real laugh even with all his “problems”, was one of the lads really. I rode a cross race in Belgium once and he jumped his bike from the road onto a wall 3 foot high and rode along it laughing at us running in the sand!

If you couldn’t cycle… what would you do?

I have plenty of gardening to do!!

What are your hobbies outside of cycling?

I love motor cycle racing, my friend Glen Richards rides in the British Superbike and has just finished 2nd in the Qatar 8hr race and football but being a Bolton Wanders’ fan is hard work

Your biggest weakness?

Looking at bikes for sale on ebay and buying sprint rims

Favourite food?

Italian

Favourite post-race food?

Used to be Indian very savoury – especially after all the sweet mars bars and rice pudding

What food will you NOT eat?

Sea food

Favorite film?

E T, Summer of 42, 1944, Blazing Saddles, Griswold family films

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Someone tall dark and really handsome = Daniele Bennati

Any pets?

Cats, ducks and Geese

Do/Did you have a nickname?

Baz

Tell us a funny cycling story that involved yourself.

On a Sunday run many years ago a large group of use were riding into Knutsford in Cheshire (between Liverpool and Manchester), when a car came behind and started to hoot for us to move over amidst much shouting and finger waving he over took us and disappeared up the road about 5 mins later the same car was stuck in the traffic, we surrounded the car and as the driver got out to argue with us on of the lads took the keys out of the ignition and threw them over a high wall we all road off leaving the guy blocking the traffic.

Lager, Ale or Wine?

White wine

2 Comments

  1. Interesting interview. Cyclo-cross is one of those cycling disciplines that once you try it, you’re hooked. Luckily living in Ottawa there is an excellent ‘cross series run by the OBC. This is where I and many other national team members got their start.
    Always nice to read a cycling web site written by another Barrhaven resident.
    cheers,
    vicki

    Reply
    • Hi Vicky – Helen mentioned that you were into Cyclo-cross. I have never tried it – despite the “push” from my friend Sergio (who did a 2 day event this past weekend).

      I’ll have to check out your blog!

      Reply

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