I suppose I should to tell a little bit about myself, maybe that’ll give you a little insight into the beast within that’s now driving me to spend hours riding my bike long and unsupported, in a manner that most people think is excessive!
I live in Windsor, Berkshire although I originate from Lancashire. I spent 22 years in the army in my local Infantry Regiment. Over the years as an Infantryman I built up this tendency to do things to the extreme, mainly due to the nature of the job but also a simple hankering to do things big, all long left behind when I finished my time over 16 years ago. I’m 56 years of age, not exactly a spring chicken but I’ve never seen age as a barrier when it comes to simply racking up miles. One thing I will need to be to have reasonable success is to be both robust in mind and body and be a little feral in nature. I know I have it, its just a question of resurrecting it from its dormant state to help me take on these challenges.
Running and my Army days
In the army I was an avid sportsman and in particular keen on running and very competitive. I simply trained and raced all the time. I think the picture speaks for itself.
I was pretty good at the shorter distances but the half marathons and marathons were the distances I specialized in, PB’s of just outside 1hour 10mins for the half and 2hrs 38mins for the full marathon are pretty respectable in anybody’s book. Still that wasn’t enough for me and in time I morphed into an ultra distance runner and progressed onto the more fruitcake events and distances, mountain marathons and super marathons, distances that most folk would think ridiculous. My running excesses culminated in finishing the Marathon des Sables, a race equivalent to running five and a half marathons consecutively in 6 days across the Sahara desert. A race described by many as the toughest footrace on earth. Nowhere else to go after finishing that, I felt I could walk on water, albeit with sore feet!
Cycling takes over
The cycling lark started around five years ago, my employers dragged me by the scruff of the neck down to the local bike shop then press-ganged me into getting a bike on the ‘cycle to work scheme’. The turmoil I’ve put my family through since then lies 100% with them. Yes Tim Stephen…it was you!!!! Since then it’s grown into a passion, I tell everybody I’m just trying to recapture my youth, but on a bike. It wasn’t long before I was looking for a cycling club and eventually joined Thames Velo, a Windsor and Maidenhead based local cycling club, for my sins I’m now the club ride leader. Over time this group of like minded cyclist became friends and it’s due to their camaraderie and encouragement I am where I am today. I initially tried out sportives, the longer supported rides before my competitive instinct took hold and for the last couple of years I’ve been racing both on the circuits and roads. I progressed to 3rd Cat a couple of years ago and then the following year got halfway to 2nd Cat. That same year I raced my first 3 day stage race, albeit on circuits, I also raced in the National Veterans Champs in my age group and came 6th.
I’ve been a regular on the clubs training camps in Spain and this year also ventured out to tackle Mont Ventoux, rode the three ascents in one day thereby joining that strange group of riders within the Club des Cingle’s. The same year I rode across the Swiss Alps over the course of a week in weather that can only be described as horrendous. As racers will tell you, racing can be fraught with crashes which really tests your resolve especially when your unfortunate enough to be caught up in them. I’ve been involved in a number, broken ribs, a punctured lung, a blood clot and a leg that swelled to the size of a tree trunk which Sir Chris Hoy would have been proud of. They say your not a proper racer until you’ve broken your collar bone, done that, I have a plate and six screws.