Southport’s unsung hero

Mention the Southport Road Cycling Club to any older cyclist and Bill Bradley’s name immediately comes up. This is hardly surprising as Bill was, without doubt, the best amateur roadman in the country.  But the Southport club had another star in Jack Lowe who although in Bill’s shadow was also a great rider.

Jack, who I never knew to ride against the watch, had his first big win in 1953 in the Army Southern Command Time Trial championship over fifty miles. By 1955 he had been demobbed and had three good wins plus a fifth place in the Tour of the Lakes. in 1956 he won the Giro Della Vista which perhaps surprisingly wasn’t held in Lombardy but in Cheshire!  He also won the BLRC Merseyside championship which was held over three races Jack getting second in all three.

In 1957 Jack didn’t have any wins in bunched races but he did win the BLRC Merseyside and North Wales time trial championship over sixty six miles round Delamere forest. For his efforts he was suspended Sine Die by the RTTC for riding an “unauthorised” time trial. The suspension didn’t bother Jack but I recall him being most indignant that the letter advising him of the outcome was signed “Yours in Sport”

In 1958 Jack had lots of podium finishes in good class races and one win in the Liverpool Olympic event. In 1959 Jack rode the Milk Race for the Merseyside team and finished 28th. He was able to help his club mate Bill Bradley win despite Bill’s own England “team mates” working against him.

In 1960 Jack had possibly his best win when he triumphed in the Tour of the Lakes two day. And yes, having ridden a later version, I can tell you that race is just as hard as it sounds! One hundred mile stages over numerous Lakeland passes made it a severe test of climbing ability and stamina.

And that was it really, Jack started courting! Club members had never seen too much of Jack as he worked at Wigan twenty miles from his Southport home and always went by bike and with an extended ride home  he was getting in at least fifty miles a day so he wasn’t a regular on our evening chain gang. Oh and Jack’s girlfriend lived at Lancaster so that was an eighty mile round trip every week-end. Jack did come to our club nights for a natter but on marrying he moved nearer to his work at Wigan.

Jack continued to ride for pleasure and the club would sometimes meet him in a distant cafe when on the ride home he would remind us how good he was. As he approaches his ninetieth birthday in July he is still riding albeit now with electrical assistance. Being the mile eater he always was Jack has rigged up a second battery so he can continue rack up the miles. Finally I should say that Jack is a really nice guy always ready to provide helpful advice.


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