I’ve always been interested in the history of sport. When I was a golfer, the feats of Hogan, Snead, Bobby Jones, Nicklaus, Palmer, intrigued and inspired me. In those pre-internet days I would read anything I could get my hands on. Old books were the best – full of sepia photos of a bygone age.
And then, all of a sudden I stopped playing golf and took up cycling. At first, just for fitness. I was getting fat, and didn’t enjoy how that felt. Size 36 jeans don’t flatter you and aren’t good for the ego.
I’d heard of Lance Armstrong, and the Tour de France, but that was as far as it went. This was 2005, the year he “won” his 7th Tour (I’m not going there!!). Over the next few years I would buy several bikes, initially alloy, and then carbon. The pursuit of speed is inexorable…..and expensive!
During that time I learned about all the great races, and fell in love with the Classics. The conditions they race in appealed to me – Belgium in March is just like Aberdeen in July! But my focus was always on the here and now. Riders like Gilbert, Voigt, and in this past year Wiggins & Froome were my favourites.
And then, out of nowhere really, my love of the past kicked in. I’d read a few books about the history of the sport. They piqued my interest. As I’ve written extensively on here, I also achieved the goals I’d set myself in racing. Once I’d broken the hour for 25 miles, the thought of going a wee bit faster just didn’t motivate me.
If I’m honest, I’ve spent the past 12-18 months searching for new challenges. Whilst that’s been going on, I’ve read more about the history of the sport. Rouleur magazine is a great source, along with books on Coppi, Merckx, Fignon, Anquitiel, Robert Millar, and more. We have so much to learn from what went before.
Which brings me to the Classico. I wanted a bike that I could just ride for the love of riding. No power meter, no heart rate monitor, no computer, and importantly for some of my friends, absolutely no Shimano! Had to be Campag. I even got toe-straps fitted rather than modern pedals. Proper retro!
What a joy to ride. I also got me some proper shoes to ride in, from a super-cool designer Quoc Pham. Here they are
And so my adventure begins. I’m looking at events for next year (well I am still competitive!), but it will not be riding up & down a dual carriageway chasing a fast time. I’m intrigued by Audax and Randonnees. 200kms and upwards on the bike. Wonder if I could do that?
Time will tell…..