Biographical Notes


For those who may be interested, here are a few details concerning myself:

I was born in Danesfield, Jarrow-on-Tyne, on 14th October 1948, another product of the post-war baby boom. Our first family home was in what would now be called a bedsit at 8 Claremont Road, Newcastle, which is why I was baptised at St Andrew's in Worswick Street. My godfather was an England Test cricketer - Jim McConnon, who came from Burnopfield, and who had met my father when playing cricket for Leslies in Hebburn. Dad, who was a schoolteacher, used to cycle to work at North Shields along the Coast Road - pleasant enough with the wind behind your back, but not so good if it was blowing the other way.

The earliest memory I am able to date with any precision is the birth of my sister Anne in April 1952. We were then living at 26 Maple Street, Jarrow. I travelled to Newcastle with my father to bring Mum and the baby home. We took a trolley bus from Clayton Street for the short ride up Elswick Road to Hopedene, a Salvation Army Hostel for "fallen girls" which also functioned as a private maternity clinic.

My mother was a Hebburn girl, Kathleen Rowan, whose widowed mother (nee Maria Laydon) lived with her spinster sister Catherine (Kitty) in the Laydon family residence at 24 Victoria Road, Hebburn. My mother's grandparents came originally from Leitrim, and had established themselves in Hebburn around the turn of the century, becoming the owners of a grocer's shop in Bewick Street. At the time of my birth this was being managed by Kitty. My father's family also originated in Ireland. His Brennan great-grandparents emigrated from Galway to Jarrow around 1870, and intermarried with the families of other Irish immigrants, in particular the Rooneys who farmed Lake House Farm in East Jarrow from circa 1884 to 1925.

When I was seven years old my parents bought a house at 219 Albert Road, Jarrow, and we left our rented property at Maple Street. We remained there until the 1960's, when my parents moved to Fulwell and I lost contact with the town. At the time I was at University in Sheffield, but my parents were kind enough to tell me their new address! Since then I've lived in Leicestershire, Cheshire, Dublin and my present home (since 1983) - Rowlands Gill.

My family have accused me (with some justification) of developing obsessive hobbies. The earliest of these was Karate, which I took up in 1964, when it was relatively unknown in the UK. For an account of my exploits visit my Karate page. Over the years I have learned Russian, studied the Saxophone (I own 4 instruments) and totally freaked-out on mountain biking. The latter is a very efficient way to dispose of surplus income! I have completed the C2C ride twice (best time - two days), and travelled to Mammoth Mountain, California to ride the famous Kamikaze downhill course. This I completed in 6 mins 50 seconds, which is pretty pedestrian by pro standards, but it scared the sh*t out of me.

I took up researching family history in 1993, and after running out of new material I started researching local history. This led to me publishing a history of womens' football teams during WW1 - "The Munitionettes", which is selling slowly but steadily. My research led to me being invited to become editor of the Journal of the Northumberland and Durham Family History Society, a position I held from 2007 to 2011. I also resumed Karate training in 2004, at the Seijinkai Karate club in Hexham. Following the collapse of the club in the summer of 2011 I returned to cycling to keep fit. I rode the 2011 Virgin Cyclone Challenge (63 miles through the Northumberland countryside) on my Klein full suspension bike and discovered just how unfit I was, and how unsuitable the bike was for such a ride, although for madcap downhilling it is perfect. Since downhilling was probably not a good idea at my age, I bought a Bianchi Infinito road bike. I also embarked on a project to restore a 1960's Freddie Grubb road bike. For full details of this project, and how it turned out, visit my Freddie Grubb page.

C2C ride 1996

Me and youngest son Stephen, 5 minutes after completing the C2C ride (140 miles :Whitehaven -> Tynemouth) - 1996

druridge bay 2007

Training with a considerably grown Stephen at Druridge Bay - 2007

The Bianchi did me proud; in the Cyclone Challenge of 2012 I knocked more than 2½ hours off my previous year's time, and this gave me an appetite for greater challenges. In September 2012 I started attending twice-weekly spinning sessions at PB Fitness in Rowlands Gill, with the objective further improving my fitness in order to ride Mont Ventoux in 2013.

Cyclone Challenge 2011-2012

The poor weather which characterised the Spring of 2013 meant I couldn't get as many road miles in as I would have liked, but the spinning classes continued and I also lost a bit of weight. In May Stephen and I embarked for France and made our way to the town of Orange, about 50 minutes drive from Ventoux. The weather when we arrived was inauspicious, and when we drove across to reconnoitre the route the mountain was shrouded in cloud, and a gale was blowing at the top. Next day however was fine and sunny, and the temperature in Bédoin when we set off was a comfortable 19°C. That changed rapidly as I began the ascent (Stephen had already shot off ahead of me) and the temperature started to plummet. When I finally reached the top after 2hours and 18 minutes it was down to 1°C, and I was frozen! So was Stephen, who had arrived 30 minutes earlier and had to wait for me. We didn't hang about to sightsee, but hurtled back down as far as Chalet Reynard to warm up with coffee and crêpes. We were still shivering uncontrollably as we rode back to Bédoin, but a few minutes in the warm sun soon took care of that. It was a great experience, but the weather could have been better! Later that year I rode the Cyclone Challenge once more and set a new personal best time of 3 hours 42 minutes.

climbing Mont Ventoux

Mont Ventoux 2013 - the last 2 km
This guy is a good actor - I was really suffering at this point!

A new phase opened up in my cycling career in December 2013 when Ruth and I decided to but a tandem. This has probably been the best purchase we have ever made. It didn't take us long to get the hang of it, and in July 2014 it accompanied us when we holidayed in the Pyrenees and the Ardeche. The crowning glory of the trip was the ascent of Mont Ventoux from Bedoin. It was hard, very hard, but we made it. Coming down was a breeze. though we did burn out the pads on our front disc brake! Since then we have climbed a number of Tour de France peaks, including the Envalira in Andorra, Alpe d'Huez, Col de Peguere in the Ariege, and a second ascent of Ventoux - this time from Malaucene.

Mont Ventoux en tandem

Mont Ventoux 2014 - the ascent from Bedoin

Alp d'Huez en tandem

Alpe d'Huez 2015 - the ascent from Bourg d'Oisans

Mont Ventoux en tandem

Mont Ventoux 2016 - the ascent from Malaucene

Patrick Brennan