Tribute to a cycling friend

Dave Pitman, a life in sport a tribute

Dave knew a lot of people, and a lot of people knew Dave or knew of him, but few of us were fully aware of his outstanding athletic achievements over his life time.

 Fortunately, he meticulously recorded his ‘life in sport’ in a number of journals. The following is taken from them and gives an idea that ‘he was quite a good cyclist’

I first came across Dave in the 60s when he beat me in the Monsal Dale hill climb by 2 secs!! I didn’t know this until a conversation we had, soon after he started work at Yeovil College some 30 years later!

In 1966 as an 17 year old apprentice at Rolls Royce he competed in his first time trial, recording 24 mins and 11 seconds in a club 10 mile event. In the remarks column of his journal he wrote “suffered all the way, what a start”.

 His first road race win was in May 1968 the South Pennine RC road race, a sum of £3.10s his prize money. This was the start of an illustrious career in cycle racing.

Over the next 30 years Dave won over 25 cycle races many of them top prestigious events including
·         Runner up twice in the National Hill climb championships,
·          The Gun Hill road race  
·         Tour of the Peak,
·         Plymouth GP
·         Western Divisional champs
·         King of the mountains in the ‘Pernod Star Trophy’
As well as stage race wins in
·          The  Wicklow 3 day
·          Gabra 2 day
He also came 17th in the
·           The Tour of Ireland

Locally, Dave won both the Ham Hill road race and the John Andrews memorial Road race based on Babylon hill.

Dave was a keen and committed cyclist, racing 3 or 4 times a week often cycling long distances to an event, riding the event and then cycling home again.

 Several summers were spent racing on the continent, recording a number of wins which enabled  him to live on the proceeds! Including the 66 mile criterium at Liseux, as part of the twinning visit with Somerset Road club.

In the 70s Dave spent time at Mercian Cycles in Derby learning and developing his frame building and wheel building skills, which he used to benefit others. Apparently, on a tour of Nova Scotia in later years he spent a whole evening rebuilding a rear wheel for a tour member, no easy feat in a hotel room!

1983 was the last year of serious competition for Dave, but his time for the New Forest 25 mile TT reflected how good a rider Dave was, achieving 56min 16seconds, but also recording in his log that he “had to stop for a pee”

July of that year Dave retired from cycle racing (almost).

The thing is you can't just stop someone as active as Dave!

 Running was the answer, achieving victory or high placings in hill events such as the
·         Grizzly,
·         the Wellington Monument race,
·         the Charmouth Challenge  
·          Crewkerne Mini Marathon
·         Karrimor Mountain Marathon in Scotland
 He was regularly running 10 miles under the hour and a half marathon time of 1h 18 mins, a very good club standard.

In 1990 another new activity emerged, Triathlon and once again he did well in events, taking 1st or 2nd on several occasions.

 Dave took part in an early ‘Etape du Tour’, across the Alps, with several Chard Wheelers, memorable, as he completed it on a mountain bike, on the frame he built himself in his lunch breaks at work.

The new millennium brought a surge of activity, with Dave returning to bike racing at the age of 51 with several top ten placings in Vets races.

 2002  culminated in Dave's last ever race, at the European Masters Championships on the Isle of Man, where he took the lead on a hilly section of the TT course, only to be caught by the bunch and finally coming in 10th.

Dave continued riding, but not competitively, he regularly covered over 8000 miles a year, including long distance Audax events.  Dave loved the outdoors; I rode several Polaris MTB challenges with him in the Lakes and Wales, where he was always a good tent mate, although I can’t remember him ever washing up!!

He also enjoyed walking and helped out with the Yeovil college Expedition group helping train the Ten Tors teams. He walked the Coast to Coast from St Bees to Robin Hoods Bay, backpacking, not the easy B&B way!!

 He regularly walked on the moors and mountains of Britain but his walking and cycling also took him to exotic parts of the world
·         A trek to Everest Base Camp  
Cycling tours of
·          Mongolia
·         Morocco
·          Venezuela
·          India,
·         Newfoundland, [Nova Scotia]
·         New Zealand, the tour leader of that tour had planned an end of tour highlight for the group to take the legendary TranzAlpine   train from Greymouth over the Southern Alps back to Christchurch but, Dave and a friend decided to cycle. When the train stopped at the one intermediate station, there was a hand written note at the station "See you in Christchurch - Dave" a typical understated comment from Dave.
This summer he had booked up to cycle the length of France from Cherbourg to Montpelier on the med. I was to be his roommate!

In 2008 He had a serious fall from his bike, which left him with life threatening injuries. Dave's skull was badly fractured and he spent a long time on life support in intensive care. It was a long recovery but recover he did, helped by being very fit, a great driver in his will to recover was the determination to get back on his bike.

Dave was always happy to spend time to share his experience and knowledge of cycling and bikes, he was a great believer in the ‘cycling club’, always being a club member, supporting and encouraging where he could. Dave was a good frame builder an expert mechanic and wheel builder. Some of us are fortunate to ride the frames and wheels he built.

Dave was a modest and private person, a talented cyclist particularly where hills were concerned, he was always dependable, prepared to listen and help. Above all he loved riding his bike and being in the outdoors.

He is already sadly missed by all in the cycling world and we all hope that he is enjoying his ‘next great adventure, he is probably building his new bike as I speak’

Many thanks to Martin and Sandra and Dave Notley for sorting and pulling the information together and to Carolene for helping to draw attention to his achievements,

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