Ragtime Cyclist column

Cyclists take advantage of the good weather.
Cyclists take advantage of the good weather.

It’s not unusual, whilst out for a ride in these parts, to pass (or be passed by) the kind of grizzled, wiry cyclist who looks like he might have spent the bulk of the last forty years, in all weather, out on his bike.

The true old-timer isn’t as quick as he was, but he can ride all day (and frequently does).

He will usually be prepared for any eventuality and carrying an assortment of ingenious multi-tools – while the main piece of back up kit we younger types carry is our phone, this is the one thing the old timer does not carry.

He would never invite the shame of having to phone home for rescue at the first sign of mechanical failure.

He also has no need for GPS navigation or other fancy gadgets.

Give the old-timer a grid reference and he’ll tell you where the nearest café is, how good the fruit cake might be, and the name of the proprietor’s wife.

He won’t be able to tell you at what point in the last 20 years he was last there, but he knows he was.

Chances are he will also have some rambling anecdote about the time he found himself out riding with some old ex-pro.

I got chatting with an old boy recently who told me he was camping in France a couple of summers ago and got friendly with a French holiday maker named Bernard, also a cyclist.

Nothing unusual in that.

After a couple of glasses of wine Bernard told my friend that back in the 70s he’d won the Tour de France.

“Yeah, I bet you did, and I won the Tour of Britain” my friend quipped back, and thought nothing more of it.

It was when they joined up for a ride together the next day that not only did Bernard turn out to be pretty spritely for his age, but he was also apparently a famous face in the area, and being recognised left and right.

It was only later that my friend discovered his riding companion was French two-time Tour de France winner Bernard Thevenet.

If Bernard had his doubts about my friend’s Tour of Britain win he kept them to himself.