What made you get into cycling?
The 1987 TDF. I was 16, I’d been playing at riding for a year or so having saved 350 of my hard earned pounds for a Peugeot aluminium bike. I found I was quite good and loved going up hill. Then I discovered the tour and what a tour! It was like watching a boxing match waiting to see which rider – Roche or Delgado – would land the knock out blow. I remember it as a ding-dong battle of sheer bloody mindedness and I thought, I want some of that. And so the journey began.
What has been your proudest/best cycling moment?
Last year, after his first proper season racing, my step son won all rounder of the year at the local club. He’s only 17 now and embracing the training and racing and improving massively all the time – even mixing it with the big boys already. His award was presented by Sean Yates himself. A huge inspiration to him and I was so proud to see him embracing the cycling life and doing it so well.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
Health and fitness. Two years ago, almost to the day, I had two TIA’s (mini Strokes). The first whilst driving home and I went temporarily blind on each occasion. After the various tests they found a small hole in my heart. Not major stuff but, when you’ve been as fit as can be for years, done 10 years of triathlon, gone up hill for fun and are only 42 yrs old, it’s quite a shock. They closed the hole and I now have a few pills to take but, am back to normal and in fact “bullet proof” where strokes are concerned. I find now though that I cannot get my fitness back anywhere near where it was and believe me, I’m trying. 75 miles is a serious struggle these days.
Who is your inspiration, and why?
Difficult one this. Bike wise, almost any rider because they’re not footballers. When they fall off, they get back up, almost regardless of the damage – Tyler Hamilton at the Giro is a case in point. OK, so they have cheated just as much through time but, they are phenomenal athletes. If I had to pick one, Bradley Wiggins. What his achievements have done for competitive cycling in this country is huge. Even my Daughter thinks he’s great.
Off the bike, it is simply my daughter. She’s the reason I get up and push the barriers and try new things and strive to do my best, because she deserves my best. She is a natural athlete with no ego and a great friend. I want to do my best for her.
What are your future goals?
Crazy as it sounds, to ride the Stelvio and put in a serious hour round a track for CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably – https://www.thecalmzone.net/ – Look them up. I do a ride for them each year and want to do something a bit different. And, to start a cycle speedway thing going in Bristol. Never done it, looks like crazy fun and will be great community inspiration I’m sure.
What would be your one piece of essential advice to someone looking to start up cycling?
Think about how you will use your bike and make sure you get one fit for purpose – how many times have you taken a suitcase of clothes on holiday you didn’t use? And, spend time and possibly money getting a bike fit. Comfort is key, especially if you’re older than you were (who isn’t?) and carry the odd back problem like me.
What is your favourite piece of cycling kit?
Ooh, so many shiny things to choose from….. I have a lovely Pink Giro cap that is very cool. The Giro is my favourite race by a mile. I also love my Lizard Skin bar tape – I don’t like riding with gloves and these are soft, come in great colours, they’re tacky without being sticky and are great quality. And finally, my brand new, still raw, Jensie Mantra that has been inscribed on my leg – Shut up Legs!
What’s your favourite thing about cycling?
That you can just do it. Anytime. Any place. Anywhere. The Martini man on a bike. You can follow the pros without paying a fortune – Passo Dello Stelvio, Croix De Fer, Ventoux, Paris Roubaix, Tour of Britain – just kit up and go. And, there’s always MTB if you don’t mind falling off – I’m used to it now. Great places to ride.
And as it’s Fathers Day, what would be your advice to Dads out there?
Get out there. It’s free family fun. My daughter and I are doing the Bristol Sky Ride on Sunday (Fathers Day) this week – maybe see you there. It’s a great way to get active, share time and experiences and, you can pretend to be Wiggins or Froome all day. Bliss.
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