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Jack Smith - The Pioneer - Founder P.S.o.C.R.

  • Jack Smith  was the engine behind Portsmouth Cycling Club, helping it's riders achieve unprecidented successes in track cycling.

30 years before British Cycling started their Go-Ride initiative, Jack went in to Portsmouth Schools and invited them to use the Cycle Track at the Mountbatten Centre, for their P.E. lessons. Jack would volunteer his time to organise the track sessions and provide coaching, and thanks to a grant from Portsmouth City Council, he was able to provide the young riders with track bikes to use, and in doing so, removed a major barrier to taking up the sport. Very quickly, a core group of very talented riders emerged from a place on the South Coast that was well off the radar for National Squad selectors (sound familiar?)

Jack founded the Portsmouth School of Cycle Racing in the early 1970's, which was eventually absorbed into the Portsmouth Cycling Club. Working with John Hayles, he organised coaching sessions every Friday Evening and Sunday morning - all year round. Jack would usually arive an hour before the session to sweep the leaves and debris off of the track, before spending many an hour in all weathers coaching the riders.


Jack was 'Old School' even back then - but in the best possible way! He saw opportunity in risks that most others today would filter out as just a risk - such as using his big Triumph pacing motor on the slightly banked track at Portsmouth, to pace youths up to 40mph to see if they could sprint past on the line (there weren't may in the club who couldn't sprint!)

Jack Smith Motors.jpg

Jack (seen here above on the right,) wasn't at all reckless though and had years of experience from pacing with big motors during the 1960's, up to the end of the era for this particular branch of the sport. "If you can ride behing a motor, you can ride anything," was his saying - and most of what he said turned out to be true.

Another thing which couldn't really happen today was he'd borrow a minibus from a school and take us all away for a weekend to race at Liecester on the Saturday and Nottingham on the Sunday, giving so many of us the opportunity to race against the best riders in the country. 

Looking back, there was a real method to everything he did for us. Below is a great article from Cycling Weekly - it's from another era, but a lot of Jack's innovative spirit lives on today with the approch taken by the Portsmouth School of Cycle Racing Coaches.

Belgian Jack.jpg


R.i.P. Jack & thanks for the inspiration - Guy Watson

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