Laurie Howcroft Tribute

Laurie sadly passed away this week, Sheldon Howcroft has written this tribute:

Dad started cycling as a teenager, his cousin Tom was a keen track cyclist racing on the track in Manchester Fallowfield Track. He joined the Bolton Clarion in the 1950s and was soon enjoying club runs escaping the factories and cotton mills of Bolton and enjoying the Lancashire countryside and coast line. Club run destinations included the Trough of Bowland, Morecambe and Southport and onto the quiet roads of Cheshire. The Lancastrian club even ventured into Yorkshire with Bolton Abbey being a popular destination!

In those days club runs were a full day out with an early start, staying out for tea and not returning until late. It was this experience of “long days in the saddle” that stuck with dad throughout his life.

When Dad moved to Yorkshire in 1967 to take up a teaching post in Leeds, he made his home in Otley and immediately joined Otley Cycle Club. This would be his club until he died.

He was soon a regular on club runs, meeting at The Buttercross every Sunday at 9am. All four of his children David, Sheldon, Nicola and Tim and his wife Jean were also enrolled as members of the club and The Howcroft name became firmly established within the cycling fraternity of Otley.

As a regular club run member he became the Club Captain on several occasions. He also held the post of President and was a regular committee member.

Throughout his time with the club he organised the clubs 25 mile time trial, the “Summer Slog” road race (which completed seven laps of the Triangle and finished up Weeton Hill) and the Club Tourist Trial.

He was a regular rider of the Triangle and in his later years a long-time supporter of these races helping wherever he could.

In his racing days he competed in time trials at 25, 50, 100 miles and 12 hour and 24 hour distances. His favourite races were 100 miles and the 12 hour event in which he completed a run of over 10 successive events to receive his Ron Kitching 2000 mile medal. He always made himself available to marshal at club events and was still marshalling until a few years ago.

Dad just liked riding his bike, he spent hours looking at maps and devising new routes and roads to take the club run down. He became well known throughout the club for this and the term “Laurie’s Way” was used by club members to describe a long route which avoided any hills! He explored all parts of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria and Northumberland by bike. He enjoyed lots of cycle tours to France, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Scotland and Wales. With his bike fully loaded, a few quid in his pocket, he would be off for a couple of weeks and out of Jean’s hair!

In cycling terms, I will remember Dad in the following way – “a long day in the saddle, a sandwich taken from home, a bench to sit on, coming back late and being too tired to eat his tea” !