South West London DA: Sou' Wester Archive
Profile of Clive Oxx

Profile: Clive Oxx - (Nov/Dec 1999)

For most children in the 1930's cycling started on a tricycle. Mine was a fine blue Triang tricycle with white mud-guards and gold lines. Although this was a long time ago (60 years!) and I was only six years old, I remember it well because it was 1939 and the next years were wartime years when colourful toys were not available for children. As I was not evacuated from my home the tricycle was an important object in my imaginative child play. It became, for example, a van for delivering dandelion salads to rabbits kept for food by my grandfather during those war years.

The importance of this tricycle in those early years probably contributed to the role of the bicycle in my life today. Following the austerity of the war years, my parents bought my first adult bicycle, a Hercules with Westwood rims, rod lever brakes and a Sturmey Archer AW 3-speed hub gear. The black enamel with red linings and chromium gleamed from the window of the radio and cycle shop, Burgon's, in North Cheam. This was the bicycle I wanted so much to own.

It was at North Cheam in 1948 that I made my first contact with the CTC. It was as a result of my mother who had seen a notice inviting newcomers to join CTC rides. I cycled proudly to the meeting place at the Granada Cinema - North Cheam on my racing bike, a renovated pre-war AW Cycles frame from a bike bought for £4.lOs and boldly sprayed 'Silver Flamboyant'. I was disappointed by the CTC leader's stern statement that my machine was unacceptable. It was not the customary post-war black and Club rules required every bike to be fitted with mudguards.

Fortunately, despite this crushing rejection, I persisted with the North Cheam Section, the Wanderers, the Intermediates etc. My memories are those of so many club riders in the post-war fifties. Section runs with large numbers, a wonderful spirit of enthusiasm, packed clubrooms, a variety of competitions and social events, 100 mile runs on Sundays ending with afternoon teas in which great slices of bread and jam were eaten ravenously.

I rode a first Time Trial in 1953, the Kentish Wheelers 25 miles Novices Scratch TT. I still have the result card bearing a photograph of a thin, pale, determined youth, dressed in black on a cold March morning. My short time trialling career with the Kingston Phoenix and RAF clubs was exciting but not in the premier class. My prizes were all handicap awards for 10, 25 and 50 mile events. In this, I followed in the handicap achievements of my Grandfather, G.R. Oxx, who, 70 years before, had been a pioneer racer on high old ordinaries. In 1876, he is recorded as competing for the then 'captaincy' of the Surrey Bicycle Club riding 23 miles from the Griffin at Kingston to Guildford and back to Ripley in 1 hr 26 mins 37 and 1/5th secs. He competed on South London tracks in the 1880's and '90s when he obtained numerous handicap prizes. I still have some of his trophies.

Conscripted in 1953, I continued to cycle with an enthusiasm that service with the RAF could not stop. On 48 hour passes I cycled home from bases in Wiltshire and Buckinghamshire. When I cycled back home on 7 day leave from my camp on the Isle of Portland - 136 miles distant - in preference to accepting a motorised lift, I was clearly regarded as someone difficult to understand. In that year I did 15,000 miles, whereas I am now sadly down to 4,500 miles p.a.

In the early 1960's, I sold my beautiful A.S. Gillott bicycle in exchange for a wedding engagement ring and joined the family breadwinners club, working intensely as a Campaign Planner and Media Negotiator in Advertising Agencies. These were the unforgettably exciting years of London in the '60s. The later trauma of a divorce provided the benefit of an opportunity to return to cycling.

Whilst trawling the job columns, I read a research in the British Medical Journal which gave the summary warming that when loss of a job is accompanied by marital breakdown, it may prove to be terminally fatal! As GPs were advised to prescribe frequent exercise and a good diet, I looked backwards to my earlier cycling life to provide this. A lucky visit to Richmond Cycles at this black time provided light when I saw a list of SWLDA rides on their notice board. It was in exactly the same format I remembered from twenty years previously and contained the amazing news that the Cheam & Morden Section still existed with Peter Mitchell at its head as Secretary. A call to Pete who remarkably immediately recognised my voice, and I was soon back in the saddle, after over twenty years, to enjoy cycling which has kept me fit and motivated during the last 15 years.

In 1987 I expressed interest in taking over the position of Hon. Secretary for the DA. For 12 years now I have carried out that role and am told that I may expect to continue it into the Millennium year.

During this time, I have assisted in the introduction and development of a new Section, the Beginners, and worked on community activities such as Dr Bike. The more recent linking of the CTC with the BCF initiative of the Sutton Cycling Club for training children, all enable us to keep cycling alive in South West London. Without a devoted core of people within the DA and the remarkable continuity of a programme of eight rides every week of the year offered by the CTC Sections, I believe cycling in our urban areas could gradually die from paralysis.

In the next weeks I will be seeking support to represent your DA as your CTC Councillor in the year 2000. This 'Profile' has shown you my background and dedication to cycling in our South West London area.