A post on the great George Berwick is long overdue on this blog, and it was suggested to me by a chap called Robert on flickr that I was short changing him a wee bit by omitting him from my Top 10 Scottish Cyclists of All Time. I’ll admit that list is biased towards road racers and was limited by my own limited knowledge of Scottish cycling history. So let’s look more at George Berwick.
He seems to still hold the Scottish 24-hour time trial champion with 448.70 miles. That alone is worthy of celebration, on this of all blogs. I must find out more. He was a prolific racing cyclist and although now a touring cyclist deserves a bit of respect for his racing time. This is corroborated on the Glasgow Road Club website.
He founded the Rough Stuff Fellowship in the 1950s, a group dedicated to tough off-road riding and touring, and is still a member today. These days he runs their ‘Vagabonds’ group in Fife. Robert comments: I think it would be a very tough cyclist indeed to accompany him on his travels, even now.
A cyclist I know called Crispin is another keen Berwick fan, and nudged me in the direction of a few other links. George’s writings were featured in a the CTC Fife Wheels newsletter under the moniker of McNasty and one piece is reprinted here on a site called Total Cycling. The casual style is entertaining and belies the sheer number of miles he would batter out during his tours.
Since this article George has done many, many more rides: he’s now ridden his 40th 24-hr race (in 2002) and the UK coastal circuit of 5100km at randonneur standard (2001).
This vague collection of links shows I still have quite a bit to learn about the man. I love a good photo, and have been unable to find one of George but I’m sure he’s included in one of the RSF galleries.
One key fact, though stands out. The RSF was founded in the 1950s, and Scots were riding off road long before anyone had heard of Marin County. George Berwick and Davie Bell (another who is under-represented on this blog) had a strong hand in the establishment of mountain biking long before Gary Fisher, Tom Ritchey and Keith Bontrager.