Monday, July 15, 2024

Dave Dungworth – 1960’s ’25’ and ’50’ TT Champion – Twice


HomeInterviewsDave Dungworth - 1960's '25' and '50' TT Champion - Twice

This gentleman was just a little before my time but when I got into the sport back in 1970 his name was spoken in hushed tones as a twice holder of the ‘Holy Grail’ record in time trialling – the ’25.’

He was also twice a 30 mile record holder and twice a double champion, winning both the ‘25’ and ’50’ titles for two consecutive years.

Unusually for a short distance time trial specialist, he turned pro on the UK scene but didn’t really enjoy his time as a ‘cash man’ – as the Cycling Weekly magazine always referred to them.

A comeback in the 80’s saw him inside 51 minutes, considerably faster than his 52:28 record from 1966.

Mr. Dave Dungworth, short distance time trial legend.

Dave Dungworth
Dave Dungworth. Photo©supplied

How did you get into the sport, Dave?

“My dad bought me an old bike and I went out on a Sunday club run to Castleton with the Rutland CC.

“I took me a while to keep up with them for the full distance but I got dropped a little later each time I went out with them.”

When did you begin to realise you could be good?

“My idol was Bas Breedon, I wanted to be a time trial star like him.

“When I got down to 22 minute rides on the local club ‘10’ course a guy recognised my potential; Lol Dodds took me in hand, chatted to me and explained that I had the potential to be a champion and a record breaker.

“That said, my first ’25’ resulted in a 1:16, I was in a hell of a state at the finish, I was going well then totally blew up with five miles to go!

“But I persisted and my times began to come down, I got good advice from the local fast men like Bas Breedon and Mike McNamara.

“And Lol, of course – it was he who advised that I drop from 170 mm cranks to 165 mm, I wasn’t a big gear man, I was a fast pedalling rider so it made sense to go to shorter cranks to get the gear round quicker.”

What are your memories of your ‘25’ record rides?  

“I don’t remember much about the first one – 53:18, except that it was at Blyth on the O2 course.

“I have a better recollection of the second time though, that was in the Brentwood ‘25’ with 52:28 but I wasn’t the first 52 minute man; that was Trevor Morgan of the Barnet CC he was an earlier starter in the same event and recorded 52:56.

“I actually went off course during that ride; I went the wrong way at a turn, I didn’t lose much time but it was frustrating because perhaps it could have been the first 51 minute ride?

“That course was quick, the surface was concrete section rather than tarmac.”

[The first 51 minute man was ‘King’ Alf Engers in 1969 with 51:59, ed.]

Dave Dungworth
Dave Dungworth, cover star.

And twice 30 mile record holder, not a distance too many ‘fast men’ chase.

“The first time I broke it was 1966 with 1:05:21 I remember that it was a single carriageway course, the road was busy and there was a light drizzle.

“I was lucky, there were road works on the course with traffic lights and an attendant policeman – but I got through on the green.

“One of my team mates wasn’t so lucky, he had to stop, but for that we’d have broken the team record too.

The second time was 1967 with 1:04:46 on Blyth.” 

[Dave’s record stood until 1975 when that man Alf Engers lowered it to 1:02:27, ed.]

The first time you win the ‘25’ Championship was in 1966, did you feel you could win it?

“I’d been second in the championship before but to win was unexpected, although Bas Breedon told me that he knew I could do it.

“The course was at Chester and I didn’t get much sleep the night before due to my club mates snoring in the room we were sharing at our digs in Chester. 

“I felt like I was flying that morning and enjoyed every minute of it, I set Championship record with 55:08.

“Defending in ’67 was harder, I did feel the pressure, Lol tried to keep it cool the week before, talking to me on an easy ride we did on the Thursday prior.

“But once I was on the bike on the morning I was fine and I won again with a 55:44 ride.” 

How much did your training change for the ‘50’?

“I upped my twice weekly hard rides from 30 miles to 55 miles, I did those on my own but Lol would join me late in the ride.

“There was great camaraderie back then, more so than now, I believe.

“My first ‘50’ Champs win was a surprise, the second less so because I’d planned to produce the ride on the day.

“I’d ridden the now long gone, ‘RTTC International 50 Mile Time Trial’ the week prior and finished third behind Pete Smith and Bas Breedon.

“Lol hadn’t wanted me to ride but I didn’t want to pass on the opportunity to ride for Great Britain.

“But my training was all geared to the championship and on the morning I went well.” 

Did you ever feel tempted to ride the BBAR distances?

“I actually rode a couple of 100’s but they were never a great success – and I rode a ‘12’ but because I didn’t have a decent ‘100’ I wasn’t placed in the BBAR.

“I think I rode four 100’s – I punctured in two and climbed off in two but none of the events I rode were on good days.”

Dave Dungworth
Dave Dungworth looked great on a bike.

Apart from your twice weekly 30 mile rides, what other training did you do?

“My dad had a Lambretta scooter and I would go out behind that at least once each week and sometimes do two or three man team time trials with club mates, just really hammering each other.”

Tell us about your bike.

“I rode Carltons, Reynolds 531 tubing, I got help from Gerald O’Donovan of Carlton and Raleigh but I rode my own 165 cranks.

“I rode a 52 ring with 14 to 18 sprockets, I don’t think you could get a 13 back then – I was always a pedaler rather than a pusher but when I came back in the 80’s I could push bigger gears because I was stronger by then.” 

Your turned pro in ’68 – unusual for a short distance specialist?

“I can’t really remember much about the process of turning professional but when Gerald O’Donovan made me an offer which I felt obliged to take because he’d helped me a lot.

“The team was Sun-Huret, the former being the frames we rode; Sun was part of the Raleigh group.

“I didn’t really enjoy it; promises were made then broken – there was supposed to be an attack on the Land’s End to John O’Groats record and also the British Hour Record but neither materialised.

“I’d really have like to have gone for the Hour.

“The last race I rode for them was a criterium; my team mates were telling me that I should have ‘taken’ this or that.

“I wasn’t into that type of thing, got pee-ed off and left the team.

“I rode another season with Falcon but that was it – in those days it was difficult to revert to amateur – I sold my bikes and was out of the sport for years.”

Dave Dungworth
Dave Dungworth rode for Sun-Huret in 1968.

But there was a ‘comeback’ in the 80’s.

“Yes, with Mapperley CC, I struggled for two years but eventually found my legs, shed some weight and started to go well, getting down to a 50:50 for a ‘25’ – faster than in my championship days.

“Despite working in my own painting and decorating business I did a lot more training when I came back; 45 miles twice per week, 150 miles on a Saturday in the winter then 100 miles on the Sunday and did interval training – which was new to me.

“But I was burning the candle at both ends with work and training, I caught flu but kept training and I developed ME, I was distraught.

“I still got out on the bike but don’t over-do it.”

Which of your rides gives you most satisfaction when you look back.

“The first ‘25’ Championship at Chester and I won the professional Llangollen-Wolverhampton for Falcon in 1968.

“I was a horrible day, drizzling, I was in a little group which was away, they eased off and I kept going – that was my biggest performance among the pros.”

If you had your time over?

“Maybe not turn pro, go for a hat trick of ‘25’ and ‘50’ titles; Lol told me not to turn pro but I didn’t listen, it was something new, I felt a debt to Gerald O’Donovan and I’d won a few road races as an amateur.

“I have no regrets though, I learned a lot – albeit about things I didn’t really want to know!

“I’m 75 years-old now and still enjoy the bike, I have to take it easy but it’s hard to resist the thrill of going fast on a bike, isn’t it?”