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Cyclist Horsnell, 90, preparing for another season of racing - 74 years after his first competition!

PUBLISHED: 13:55 06 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:55 06 February 2020

Peter Horsnell has been racing since 1946. Picture: FERGUS MUIR

Peter Horsnell has been racing since 1946. Picture: FERGUS MUIR

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Like many racing cyclists Peter Horsnell of the Chelmer CC is preparing for the 2020 racing season, writes Fergus Muir.

Peter Horsnell, 90, in action last summer. Picture: FERGUS MUIRPeter Horsnell, 90, in action last summer. Picture: FERGUS MUIR

What is different is that Peter, who celebrated his 90th birthday recently, first raced in the 1940s and now has over 70 seasons of racing behind him.

Peter first started cycling with Chelmsford CTC at the age of 14, taking part in Saturday grass track racing from 1946 with the CTC racing offshoot, the Viking Road Club.

He was soon in the then newly-founded Chelmer CC with whom he has remained ever since, first riding a time-trial - the Glendene Novices 25 - in March 1947.

What emerges talking to Peter is his focus and determination to be top. Nevertheless he always ran his career and racing in parallel - believing the one helped the other.

In work he went from leaving school at 14 to a full professional qualification and eventually lecturing in work study.

In time-trialling Peter sees 2015 as his best year. He was the Veteran's Time Trial Association's Best All-Rounder at the age of 85. The VTTA age-related handicap system allows riders aged over 40 to compete on even terms and indeed his closest rival then was Alan Topham, then just over 40.

Strada 2020 members at their team launch at Weston Longville Photo: LEX SPEDDING PHOTOGRAPHYStrada 2020 members at their team launch at Weston Longville Photo: LEX SPEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY

Peter is still looking forward to time trialling at distances of up to 100 miles, and hoping to beat his 2019 "100" time of 5 hours 19 minutes 45 seconds.

- The Strada 2020 cycle racing team was launched at a team presentation at Weston Longville.

The team, who won the Eastern Road Race League team competition last year were showing off their new orange kit featuring sponsors, house-builders Millthorne Developments and the Parson Woodford pub at Weston Longville.

Strada 2020 feature higher category riders like Wisbech trackman Tiago Fougo and roadman Ben Beynon, but also have a team of aspiring third-category riders.

They are looking to develop new talent and welcome enquiries from potential new members.

Lloyd Chapman, who is a strong challenger in this Sunday’s Ely Hardriders. Picture: FERGUS MUIRLloyd Chapman, who is a strong challenger in this Sunday’s Ely Hardriders. Picture: FERGUS MUIR

The team's management and support team includes several with a background in the Rennrad Club Norwich which set the East Anglian racing scene alight a generation ago and their big road race promotion - this year on 21st June - commemorates their founding member and driving force behind the Rennrad Club, Bob Whitear.

- It is sad to be reporting the death of engineer, artist, tricyclist and Audax rider and organizer Paul Denny. Paul was a member of the Diss & District CC 100 mile Tricycle Competition Record Team in 1960.

Later he and his wife Jacqi became keen Audax riders, completing, in stages, a round-France Audax route and organizing the 600 kilometre Seething Audaxes.

Paul's funeral will take place on Thursday 13th February 2020 at 11:00 a.m. at The Woodland Burial Park, Colney, Norwich NR4 7TY.

Rebecca Johnson – seen at Grafham cyclo-cross – a leading contender among women entered in the Ely Hardriders. Picture: FERGUS MUIRRebecca Johnson – seen at Grafham cyclo-cross – a leading contender among women entered in the Ely Hardriders. Picture: FERGUS MUIR

- The East Anglian time trial scene opens on Sunday with one the classic challenges - The Ely Hardriders. The 25 mile course twists through fenland roads and lanes between Ely and the Hundred-Foot Drain and was summed up by CC Breckland's Danny Watkins:

"It's not really that bad, it's just the combination of the cold, the wind, rain, and that awful section along the drain."

Scratch man is Jack Brown (Active Edge), who was fifth last year. A prominent challenger will be Martlesham former pro Lloyd Chapman who makes his first appearance in the colours of his own team Loose Cannon Conditioning.

Among top women entered are Rebecca Johnson (Stowmarket & District CC) and Elspeth Grace (Cambridge University CC).

- Over 100 riders successfully completed the Knights Templar Compasses 105 km Audax based at Witham, despite a tough final leg.

On Sunday early rain squeezed the entry for West Suffolk Wheelers Suffolk Punch rides, but I was personally fortunate to find the rain stopping soon after I pedalled out of Stowmarket to ride, via a refuelling stop at Felsham Community Post Office Stores, to the Tricycle Association East Annual Luncheon at Bradfield Combust.

TA President Roger Alma presented the prizes.

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