David Hilliard pays tribute to his late friend, Les Bailey
The cycling world in Enfield recently mourned the passing of Les Bailey, at the age of 74.
Les was a stalwart and leading light of Edmonton Cycling Club, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year and was one of its founder members, together with his wife Maz.
He was known for his sense of humour and bike mechanic skills and is remembered fondly by the local cycling community. He also loved dancing and cycle touring in Spain with CC London cycle club.
Les came to London in 1989 and married Maz in 1993. He is also survived by proud son Jonny, who was enthusiastically supported by Les in his wrestling career – right up to seeing him wrestle for WWE!
On Monday 15th November at Southgate Crematorium, Les’s family and many friends gathered to celebrate his life. On his last journey to the crematorium, the cortege included a large group of CC London cyclists following on their bikes, many wearing their club colours. They were later joined by Edmonton Cycle Club in their distinctive jackets.
The congregation were told how, throughout the 37 years Maz and Les were together, he always kept his promise to “hold her hand and make her laugh”. His son Jonny talked fondly about his father’s sense of humour and how much he loved helping people, especially with repairing their bikes, buying bikes off them, or selling them bikes.
At the end of the service the congregation said their final goodbye to Les with the renowned ‘Bailey Bow’, a greeting for which he was well known when arriving at a household or greeting friends.
Although retired, Les never stopped working. Whether renovating the house, fixing a bike, or under the bonnet of a car, Les was never idle. He will be sadly missed and fondly remembered by those in the local cycling community and beyond.
One friend described Les as “a ball of energy, warmth and kindness; generous, loving and welcoming; gentle, thoughtful, clever, helpful and considerate; meet him once and he treats you like he’s always known you”.
Ian Watson, from CC London, also recalled Les very fondly and said: “Les was a very valued member of the club. He was a great racing cyclist back in the 70s with many big victories to his name.
“Most of all though, he just had a massive passion for riding bikes, and although normal riding became difficult due to illness, he still rode his trusty electric bike weekly until very recently.
“He was always very encouraging to new people in the sport and always offering good advice. He was always fixing people’s bikes in his workshop to keep them in the road and quick to lend out his own bikes and equipment to those who were stuck.
“He was a true champion of the sport in every way and he will be very greatly missed. However, his legend will live on in the club forever.”