Our Brian looks back on a legacy to be proud of
I was eight years old when I first got chastised for riding my bike too far from the house – my friends made me ride to Batley with them.
“I came back in one piece, but I got into a lot of trouble! I suppose that’s when it all started for me.”
Brian Robinson is not your average sportsman – a humble man, he is not one to gloat about his achievements, despite being the first ever British man to ride in the greatest race on earth.
Brian’s story began I a working-class household in Day Street, Ravensthorpe.
He said: “My parents didn’t take that much interest in my cycling at first – they were too busy earning a living!”
He took interest in cycling from an early age, and told of how his influential career started with nothing more than a chance-purchase from a garage.
“My father offered five shillings for three bikes that were sitting in someone’s garage. I was only three at the time, but that was when I started riding.
“My brother used to ride for Huddersfield Road Club, but you couldn’t join until you hit 14, so I used to ride along with him until I was old enough. From then-on, I had to work my way up from the bottom.”
Brian got his big break on a visit to France in 19 54, during a drinking session.
“I met two journalists when I was doing the Route de France, a road-race for juniors.
“I had just won a stage, and we were having quite a heavy night of drinking when one of them suggested I should ride in the Tour de France.
“Before I knew it, I’d received an invite to ride in the tour, and that set the ball rolling for me.”
Brian went on to have a successful six-year cycling career, and became the first Englishman to finish the Tour de France – in 29th position in 1955; the first Englishman to win a stage on the tour – stage seven in 1958 (he also won the 20th stage in 1959 ).
It was in 1962 however, when Brian decided to call it a day.
“I was 32 – at that age, you don’t get any better, and there are always riders younger than you who are improving.
“I was living out of a suitcase, and my kids were growing up – I decided I’d had enough, so I went back to live in Mirfield.”
Following his retirement from cycling, Brian went into the building, and didn’t go near a bicycle for another 30 years.
“It was only when I retired,” he said, “that I had decided to get back into cycling.”
Despite being 82, Brian still cycles regularly, and lists his lack of injury as one of his proudest achievements.
“I don’t think I a serious accident until I was 79!”