|Nick Firth win’s the 1984 Notton Road Race from his breakaway
companion Colin Nelson (Leeds RC)
|at Chequerhouse on O2 1984|
Nick Firth who has recently rejoined Calder has had a long and sometimes colourful career as a racing cyclist in the colours of Calder and also Wakefield Cycling Club. He has kept meticulous records of all races; currently standing at a prodigious 840 events including road races, time trials, tandem, 2-ups, hill climbs and criteriums. He has 41 wins to his name and many seconds and thirds.
6 year old Nick’s first two wheel bike came on Christmas Day 1963 and he began ‘proper cycling with a ride to York and back in August 1968 when he was 11.
Throughout his racing days, Nick worked a 50-60 hour week. He always raced on 32 spoke wheels and never on a bike weighing less than 22 lbs. He never raced with a 12 sprocket and never trained on the big ring.
He reminds us that although Calder were mainly a time trial club, they did have many strong road riders. In 1988, he won two open races, but only finished 3rd in the Calder road race championships that year. He once advised Mike Bragan how to ride a 100 TT and Mike went on to beat him by 35 seconds in the Club 100 TT champs. In another 100, TT he suffered hunger knock (bonked). He was caught by Dave Smithers and asked if he had any food, Dave passed him a Mars Bar and moved ahead. Nick ate the bar and thanked Dave by catching and passing him.
Nick once lapped the field to win alone at Howden Clough. He won a ‘crit’ at Eastway, London at the same meeting that Eddy Merckx finished 3rd in his race. After the finish Nick drove home, grabbed 5 hours sleep, drove to Wibsey and finished 3rd on the Beacon circuit. He once raced 6 times in 7 days during Harrogate Week and then came off and brought 6 others down when he touched a wheel on a club run while sprinting for the Stillingfleet sign. He broke a collarbone.
Nick once got a minor placing at Liverpool’s Sefton Park and was “advised” to get out of town fast; his brown envelope had a 10 shilling note in it. Again in Liverpool, on the Delamere circuit he was in a break with 6 locals. Coming into the finish he was told to keep out of the way and be prepared to lose. He finished 7th!
Name dropping: he’s raced against: Dave Lloyd, Ian Cammish, Wayne Randle, Glenn Longland, Daryl Webster, Martin Pyne, Tom ‘Ticker’ Mullins, Beryl Burton, Paul Curran, Malcolm Elliot, Bernard Burns, Dave Rayner, Doug Dailey, Wes Mason, John Herety…..
Nick says his weaknesses are climbing, sprinting and missing breaks but his strengths are testing, bridging gaps to breaks and racing in poor weather.
Of is 840 races, Nick won 2 Criteriums, 4 road races (2nd 14 times), 8 open time trials and 27 evening 10s. In Calder Championships, he won the Hill climb in the days of the superb climber Alan Barraclough, 2 10s, 2 25s, 3 50s, 4 100s and a club BAR. He won the Calder Road Race Award 4 times and the coveted fastest 25 of the year 4 times. He had 13 2nd places and 2 3rds. He also won the WAYS week 10 twice, the 25 TT inter club match with Barnsley RC 3 times and the S. Anderson trophy.
In National Clarion Championships, Nick has a 25TT win, a 2nd , a 3rd and a 1st team with Calder. In the National Clarion Road Race champs he has a 2nd and two 3rd.
10 TT: 21.42 (Blyth)
25 TT: 53.41 (Catterick) 53×14 gear
50 TT: 1.56.38 (Boro’)
100 TT 4.09.28 (Boro’)
38 rides under the hour for 25 and 8 rides under 2 hours for 50.
Nick’s Audax achievements are prodigious. He’s achieved a Randonneur 1000, R5000, Super Randonneur, Randonneur Round the Year, Audax Altitude Award(AAA) with 20,000 metres of climbing, Brevet 1000 x 5, Brevet 2000 x 3 and a Brevet 4000. He regards his Super Randonneur Medal as his best personal cycling achievement.
Favourite Professional Cyclist: Freddy Maertens (Belgium)
Favourite Female Racing Cyclist: Beryl (from Morley)
Favourite Bicycle: A Red Flandria
Favourite Ride: Cleethorpes & Back (180 miles)
Favourite Time Trial Course: T254 Catterick
Most Admired Cyclist: Steve Greasley(Wakefield CC), Ray Smith(Calder) but don’t tell em!
Worst Cycling Achievement: catching Beryl Burton in a 50, not daring to pass her.
Nowadays, Nick tends to focus on Audax with several 200k events done this year, with a 300s, 400 and a 600 planned. He’s also done the C2C twice with one a Gold Standard ride, under 12 hours.
Road Race History
Time Trial History