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The ABCs of Cycling by Beryl Burton

Beryl Burton, (12 May 1937 – 5 May 1996) was an English racing cyclist who dominated women’s cycle racing in the UK, winning more than 90 domestic championships and seven world titles, and setting numerous national records. She set a women's record for the 12-hour time-trial which exceeded the men's record for two years.

Adapted from Ron Kitching’s Everything Cycling Handbook, 1970 edition


A is for ACTIVITIES, of which cycling is the best; what other recreation has such a diversity of interests? Be it touring, club runs, camping, hostelling, time trialing, road or track racing, the bicycle caters for all.

B is for BEARINGS which must be kept adjusted, clean, and lubricated to keep your cycling enjoyable.

C is for CYCLIST – be one and not just an “athlete on wheels”; it’s more fun.

D is for DOPE – the biggest one is the rider who uses it.

E is for EQUIPMENT – choose the type most suited to your needs and pocket; look after it, check it weekly.

F is for FITNESS for which you must train; each one according to his or her own need.

G is for GEARS – clean and lubricate weekly. Be sure to check the cables; it’s too late in the middle of an event.

H is for HYGIENE – both dental and personal are important to a healthy body.

I is for IMMERSION in water, a thing I never do during the racing season; try a shower or rub-down instead.

J is for JOY – the feeling one gets when fit and riding the bicycle.

K is for KEEN and efficient brakes – check the cables and brake pads; your life could depend of them.

L is for LIGHTS – see and be seen; don’t get caught out in the evening without good lights and reflectors.

M is for MUDGUARDS – except for racing, I can see no excuse for subjecting your body and bicycle to wheel spray on wet roads.

N is for NUTRITION – intelligent eating rather than ‘dieting’ is my approach. Eating healthy foods, in the proper amounts relative to your activity level, forms a good nucleus of fitness.

O is for OIL – a must for every free-running machine; don’t forget to lubricate the chain.

P is for POSITION on the bicycle – comfort is my first essential consideration. Handlebars are only one inch lower than the saddle height.

Q is for QUERIES – ask the experienced riders’ views, then adapt to your own requirements.

R is for ROLLERS, which help you beat the fog, smog, and ice of winter evenings.

S is for SHOES, SOCKS & SHORTS, which should be close-fitting, clean, comfortable, and good quality.

T is for TIRES – choose the type and size most suited to your needs and look after them. Check weekly for cuts and ride them at the proper inflation.

U is for the UNSUNG praises of cycling – let everyone know that you are a Cyclist and proud of it!

V is for VICTORY – which should be the aim of every sporting cyclist—work for it—it doesn’t come easy.

W is for WILLPOWER – it keeps you going when you’re hurting—cultivate it.

X is for the eXtra care you must take in your appearance and behavior when on the bicycle. Remember, you are an ambassador for our sport.

Y is for YOUNGSTERS – encourage them to take up cycling.

ZZZ is for the extra sleep you will require if this isn’t going to be wasted effort.

O'Hooley & Tidow - Beryl

You might think that she was born on two wheels
Mam and dad behind her and the stars at her heels
Never looking back, I’m gonna make me mark,

Never looking back, I’m gonna make me mark.
Born into nothing, a shy awkward lass
Coordination? St Vitus her dance
Never looking back, I’m gonna make me mark

I will not lead a life of disillusionment and disappointment

Heart beats to the pedal
Like the salmon has to leap
Not about the medals
Feet flat to the metal
Push and push and push, repeat

Mother, worker, wife, champion on t’side
Like her curly crop, tightly organised
Never looking back, I’m gonna make me mark

Never looking back, I’m gonna make me mark.
Sprockets and mudguards, Charlie’s her guy
Dancing through the hills, Queen of British time
Never looking back, I’m gonna make me mark.
Never looking back, I’m gonna make me mark

Head down, eyes forward, pulsing, sprinting to find the sweet spot

BerylHeart beats to the pedal

Like the salmon has to leap

Not about the medals

Feet flat to the metal

Push and push and push, repeat


from Shadows, released March 29, 2017
Written by O'Hooley/Tidow

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