I went to London today, not to see the Queen, but to meet with a chap who publishes cycling books. Incidentally, the best way to get to London is not via Newport, in case you’re wondering. for the first time in my life i got on the wrong train and found myself speeding through Patchway and into the dark and dank recesses of the Severn Tunnel, rather than alighting at Parkway for a platform hop onto the London Express. As i said, an extraordinary day.
I met the chap at the Jerusalem Tavern. It’s odd to think that i lived in London for nigh on ten years but i never discovered this pub. It’s an amazing place and I will mark it out as somewhere to visit. So anyway, the narrative is as follows: after a somewhat speculative pitch at the turn of the year based entirely on the ‘nothing ventured nothing gained’ school of thought i was surprised when he replied positively a few days later. Further communication followed and since then I’ve been fully immersed in researching and planning a book about cycling (alongside being fully immersed in some other not insignificant upcoming events in my life). This is very exciting but also a little daunting. Whilst it’s not particularly secret, i’m going to keep it close to my chest for now, apart from saying it’s focused on many of the areas explored throughout this blog.
When i got home i found a DVD of images had arrived from Peter Whitfield, he’s a cycling historian who also has access to the Bernard Thompson Archive. The images are startling and provide an evocative insight into the sport. I came across an image of Allen Janes, a life member of the Bristol South, riding his very early Argos low-pro with a crown-mounted handlebar.
And to anyone who has been finding excuses not to ride of late, three days ago I met with Vic Clark. He is 92 years old and raced the Manx International in 1940. He still gets on the turbo for half an hour each day. 66 years ago he was National Hill Climb Champion. Talking to him was a moving and fascinating experience. Here’s a very brief snippet:
I hope you’re feeling suitably warm and inspired and go out and ride your bike, if not your tandem, and enjoy the unceasing happiness that cycling brings. i hope i’m able to look back on a life of cycling when I’m Vic’s age, accompanied by someone like Connie, every step of the way.