Back in the 1970s as a teenager I was introduced to competitive cycling with a close friend Andy Horton, whose father Maurice was keen to get us doing something outside of the rugby season. With basic ‘racing’ bikes we joined what was the Royal Sutton Cycling Club and set off in the mysterious world of cycling.
In those days cyclists were considered just a little mad and racing cyclists just a little madder.
Most people had become wealthier in the 1960s and had abandoned the cycle commute for a car or bus and cycling for pleasure was just rare.
Andy soon got more interested in other things (girls as I recall) and I carried on – training and racing until I became a national schools champion and represented England in Holland and Belgium. Then I had all my bikes stolen from the garage and quickly slipped away into other sports (motocross and football) and then into the inevitable marriage/mortgage thing.
It wasn’t until many years later in the late 1980s that I got into Mountain Biking and that kicked the whole cycling thing off again.
The story about going to GA Cycles in Southampton for a new chain and returning with a £1,500 Bianchi Road bike is true – and that is what got me back onto the roads.
We have Olympic and World Champions on the track in all disciplines, we have had a World Mountain Bike Downhill Champion and we have the current World Mens Road Race champion, Mark Cavendish.
The ladies have been equally successful and with Nicole Cooke’s many World and now Olympic championships plus those of a whole generation of new girls, the future is rosy for the sport on and off track.