South West London DA: Sou' Wester Archive
Profile of Vic White

Profile: Vic White - (Jul/Aug 2006)

I was born in Woking in 1932 to parents who abandoned me soon after, so that I was adopted and raised by someone else. From the village school I got into Strodes, a grammar school in Egham. In 1948 I matriculated in London University but we couldn't afford any more education and so I set to work in a solicitor's office. This was not the right direction for me and I went to the Central Veterinary Laboratory, a good move for it was to provide me with an interesting career which lasted for the next 43 years.

It also started me on my lifetime interest in cycling for I needed transport to commute to the CVL offices in Weybridge. The first bike was a Robin Hood which I bought 'on tick'. I graduated to a Dawes Commando. Cycling became a serious interest in my life and my income became sufficient to purchase a custom-built Gillott which was to be the first of three Gillotts built for me.

From 1950 I rode 'prodigious' distances on these machines. I rode with a cyclist mate and we did two overnight rides to Liverpool en route to racing in the Isle of Man. In 1952 I was called up and spent my service life in camps at Mytchett, Crookham, Aldershot and East Everleigh. These were conveniently located for me as they permitted cycling so I was able to ride home every weekend. A posting to Egypt sadly put a stop to that and it's only 52 years later that I have just received a medal for this overseas service.

Back home from the Army in 1949 I was cycling with the Weybridge Wheelers Club up to 1957. I joined the Willesden CC and I am now a Life Member as I approach 50 years in one club. In the early years I rode in road races and cyclo-cross with some success - I still have records in the form of cuttings. In addition to racing I was touring extensively with tours in Wales, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, France, Italy, Switzerland and in Austria (my happiest tour memories). I became a member of the CTC during this touring period in 1954.

I had to restrict my racing activities to time trialling when I resumed education for my career in the '50s. I qualified in Medical Sciences, principally Bacteriology and Parasitology. Most of my work was for the World Health Organisation (WHO) and I had short trips to Chad, Sri Lanka and Mexico to help out. At the same time I was 'ticking over' in Anaerobic Bacteriology. This took on more importance later on, so I had to give up cycle racing altogether - but not before getting three BBAR certificates in my forties. My best ride was 255 miles in a 12 hour event.

In recognition of advancing age I joined the Veteran Cycling Club and the FCOT. I bought a couple of bikes for sedate rides including an 'anonymous' Nigel Dean which I mostly ride nowadays, and for special occasion rides I have a Colnago.

I also joined the Alpine Garden Society. This move to go green still requires the use of a car however to carry bikes and plants around. I still have a clean licence so whilst I sold my last car 29 years ago I am able to join in activities such as the Annual VCC Camp. The AGS interest takes me to remote mountains which I have visited in all continents except Antarctica. My last trip was to Patagonia in Winter 2005. Most of these trips would give little pleasure on a bike, but I do enough riding at home to balance it out.

The day after I retired in February 1992 I went for a ride. I saw a group and tucked in behind. When we stopped at a pub in Normandy and they 'unwrapped', I recognised one bicyclist in the group as Ron Dare. I was corrected by the real Ray Dare and we've been riding together on Wayfarers rides ever since. I ride as I like - so there isn't much to dislike and Ray fits in well with my other interests. Cycling with the Wayfarers keeps me away from the motoring proleteriat whose behaviour would otherwise get me worked up - and so angry.