Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Beryl Burton Champion of the World

Read the book, see the movie.

I had read in vague passing about Beryl Burton earlier this year when reading about Lynne Taylor's successful Lands End to John O'Groats and 1000 mile record attempts. Then cfsmtb jogged my memory in a comment on one of my posts, and off I went, merrily googling. Beryl's cycling achievements cover more than 25 years, making her one of the legends, not just of women's cycling, but international cycling. She won 15 World Championship medals, on the track (IP) as well as road, and dominated the UK women's all rounder championship for 25 consecutive years. Beryl was awarded and MBE and OBE in the 1960s. Unfortunately, she died, whilst out riding, just a few months short of her 60th birthday, of heart failure.

Her story and longevity fascinate me and I am now tracking down her autobiography, Personal Best.

8 comments:

Bleve said...

There's some interesting stuff on her and her compatriots in "one more kilometer and we're in the showers", which is a rambling and chaotic story/diary about British cycling from about the 30's until the '90's. Might be worth a look also?

Lawrence said...

There's a fair bit online about her.The excerpts from her autobiography read well and it's always more tangible when reading the 1st hand source.

Colin Griffiths said...

Beryl was an icon when I first started time trialling. I can remember my excitment when for the first time I beat her in a 10m TT (I was about 23/24 at the time). I remember a story about her winning the RTTC national 12hr TT, setting a new ladies record and winning the event. She passed Mike McNamara who also set a new men's record in the same event. She stopped in the last few miles to apply lipstick and spruce herself up. She said something like "a girls got to look good". She used to use a massive "dinner plate" chain ring.

cfsmtb said...

A lady made of very stern stuff indeed.

Stephen said...

I remember meeting her in a cyclists cafe in Gargrave, West Yorkshire, back in about 1970. She looked like an ordinary human being. And she kept very much to herself. The knee must have been still hurting from her intemperate ride in the Mersey Roads 24 hour race the previous year.

Nigel said...

Hi..I live in Morley where Beryl was said to have been born, according to wikipedia. But other web sites say she born somewhere in Leeds. Can anyone shed light on this?
Nigel

hippy said...

I'm about to buy her autobiography. It's recently been reissued.

hippy said...

Oh it's printed by
http://www.mercianmanuals.co.uk/

and available on ebay.co.uk at the moment. Amazon are restocking soon.