South West London DA: Sou' Wester Archive
Profile of Stuart Downie

Profile: Stuart Downie - (Jan/Feb 1999)

Stuart Downie has agreed to take over as Secretary for the Downlands Section in 1999. "With a little reluctance", he comments, "usual story, no-one else wanted to do it!" Whilst Stuart - together with his wife Maureen - is well known to many of us for his organisation of the Hilly 50km and his competing in the ultra-tough Paris-Brest-Paris Randonnee, the following background to Stuart's cycling life may not be known:

Stuart started cycling in 1954 when his Dad bought his first cycle, an upright Raleigh roadster. This was upgraded to a Viking cycle purchased with a legacy of £20 left to him by his grandfather. Whilst at school, he joined the Bath Road Club, based then at Thames Ditton, and remembers clearly his first ride - "It ended up at Whitedown. I made it as far as the Pill Box on the left". (Given the right gear he climbs to the top nowadays - Ed).

In the early 60s he turned to riding a Vespa scooter with the Surrey Downs Club where he met Maureen and they married in 1963. In 1964 he bought a Higgins tandem for £11. This was used until the birth of their first child. The family then turned to sailing and Stuart became a proficient qualified dinghy sailor for 15 years until mooring difficulties for his cruiser, and excessive travelling to and from Bosham, reduced the commitment to sailing.

Around this time he acquired a Wakefield cycle for £10 and started cycling with Arthur Butcher and the Midweek Section. In time he purchased another tandem and this led to regular riding with the Family Section and a number of tours in France.

Following retirement in 1990 he has aimed to continue family cycling, encouraging his grandson Max, taking him to school with a trailer attachment. More demanding, he has taken up the challenge of riding the formidable Paris-Brest-Paris Randonnnee organised by the Audax Club Parisien. It was inveterate rider Derek Monkhouse who talked to Stuart of his experiences and they rode the PBP together for the first time in 1991.

This was a special year in which to participate and Stuart ended with a very fine plaque commemorating the Centenary event in which he rode the 1,200km in 84 hours and 5 minutes. The PBP is held every four years and, in 1995, they improved to a creditable 77 hours of riding. Stuart and Derek plan to compete in 1999.

They must first achieve the stiff qualification standards on four rides which will comprise the 'Super Randonnneur Series' of specified randonnees of 200/300/400/600km to be ridden in the same year as the competition. Stuart is a little concerned that before embarking on the series, the poor weather this year has reduced his mileage to around the 7,000 mark. As I finished this 'interview' Stuart was musing "like to get in a gentle ride every now and then." Little prospect of that for Stuart in 1999.