During the same period as the Box Hill rides I had a couple of schoolboy jobs as a paperboy....I had a morning and an evening delivery round, both out of the same newsagents shop.
The money earned from the paper rounds, added to the pocket money that my Dad gave me for small tasks done around the house, helped me to fund my various hobbies and interests....
In the front window of the newsagents shop there was a board with postcard sized adverts for various things, such as items that people had for sale...local clubs .... jobs...etc..
One day whilst I waited for the newsagent to prepare the papers for my evening round I was glancing at the advert board when my attention was taken by one of the adverts.
It read as follows:
'Keen Cyclists Wanted.
Get Paid to ride a bike.
Well....I thought, this could be just what I needed.
Another opportunity to earn some extra money for my upcoming youth hostel cycle touring trips and getting paid to ride a bike at the same time.
For a young junior club cyclist it sounded like a dream Saturday job, so I took down the details.
My thoughts ran wild...perhaps they wanted youngsters to train to be professional cyclists....who knows I might end up in the Tour de France that I had seen pictures of in those exotic foreign cycling magazines...
My young imagination ran amok with all sorts of cyclist based scenarios.....anyway I phoned Mr Robbins the name in the advert, from our local phone box (we didn't have a phone at home) and arranged to go along the following Saturday morning at 9.00am sharp.
When I arrived at the address on the arranged day there were a couple of other lads already waiting outside...
It was a private address and none of us wanted to knock on the door until the 9.00am arranged time.
While we waited a couple of other lads also turned up.
The interesting thing is that we all knew each other...we were all members of the same local cycle club and we all had the same wild ideas as to what the job was likely to be....
At 9.00am the front door of the house opened and the deep voice of Mr Robbins boomed "good morning lads, come on round to the back of the house."
We all trooped round to the back of the house where there was a huge shed like building in the rear garden.
Mr Robbins led us all inside and at that point the reality of the job suddenly all became clear.
Mr Robbins ran a boot and shoe repair service...
Speedy Boot & Shoe Repairs was what he called it.
The 'speedy' bit was to be us lads on bikes. "The bikes are all supplied lads" he proudly announced as he pointed to about a dozen very heavy looking delivery bikes all neatly lined up at the rear of the building.
The bikes were black with a rack on the front with a large bag attached. Hanging from the crossbar was a sign panel on which it announced in a very bright red and yellow script 'Speedy Boot & Shoe Repairs - We collect & deliver'.
We must have all looked a pretty dejected bunch as the reality became clear and our Tour de France dreams faded to nothing....
No wonder he wanted keen cyclists...you would need to be pretty keen as well as fit to pedal these delivery bikes along... they were build like tanks!!
He then went on to tell us that we would be required to wear the 'Speedy' uniform at all times during our Saturday working day. This uniform consisted of a matching jacket & trousers made from some kind of imitation leather material with the 'Speedy' message that was on the bike, painted on the back of the jacket. This uniform seemed to be as heavy as the bike (well almost). Even though we were all disappointed that this job wasn't the job we had dream't of, each of us decided to do it....
I did the job for about a year...but let me tell you it was bl**dy tough!!
Riding those really heavy bikes wasn't easy...and it wasn't made any easier by having to dress up in what looked like a 'Hell's Angels' outfit.
The material did not breath at all...it was just like trying to cycle uphill dressed in a giant plastic bag. As each hour of the working day at 'Speedy Boot & Shoe Repairs' went on, you would just get hotter and hotter as well as wetter and wetter.
It was like being a 'boil in the bag' cyclist and believe me during the summer period you would end up well and truly cooked!!
That year I think the times for all of us lads improved whenever we rode up Box Hill and the Speedy Saturday job taught us a lot about dealing with discomfort and pain and how to develop the tenacity required to just keep on going even though your body is telling you to stop.....
Over all the years that I have been riding since then I don't think that I have found a hill or any other area of cycling, that has given me as much pain and discomfort as I experienced whilst riding for Mr Robbins and his Speedy Boot & Shoe Repairs...........