The Cycling Community

Yesterday morning I made my way to Loughborough University to meet up with my cycling mates.  Saturday morning  at nine o’clock by the fountain in front of the Hazlerigg Rutland buildings has been a year-round fixture for as long as I’ve been in the area and many years prior, no doubt.  The numbers vary, but yesterday it was just me and Stewart and a really strong South-Westerly, so we set off into the wind, bound for Market Bosworth via Shepshed, Osgathorpe, the south eastern limits of Ashby de la Zouch and countless other places en route.  The wind blew, the rain threatened but we put our heads down and pedalled.

Still some way from our intended cafe stop the rain finally came, so on went the capes.  We debated returning without coffee and cake, fully expecting a thorough soaking, but it didn’t work out that way.  First, our spirits to a turn for the better as we caught and passed a group of about twenty youngsters on their road bikes, led by a senior rider.  Not a common sight, but a real sign of a brighter future for cycling in the UK.  We pressed on and it stayed damp, but nothing too uncomfortable, so we continued on to the cafe to enjoy a well deserved break (just in time to avoid the only really heavy downpour of the morning).  As we walked in, there were half a dozen or so other cyclists settling down to drinks, snacks and a chat.  They’d come in ones and twos from various parts of Leicestershire.  The notable point was that they were all known to Stewart, being former club mates from when he was 15, some 43 years ago.  The extraordinary point was that they were all well into their sixties.  The most astonishing point was that the chap sat opposite me was at least 65 and had recently achieved a 25 mile time trial time of 58 minutes.  58 minutes for 25 miles and he’s a pensioner!  Fantastic.  So, here was a group of men who were still fit, still getting together, still training, still racing, still sharing their love of two wheels.  A real inspiration.

As I potter towards the last day of my 50th year, perhaps I can take some comfort from the thought that I could still be riding at a reasonable level for another ten years, maybe more.  As Stewart explained while we flew home on a blissful tailwind with stomachs digesting caffeine and chocolate, the secret is to “keep on riding”.  Amen to that.

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