what great memories of what i consider to be, the greatest era of professional cycling. i love the your description of richard keyes' mitts - we used to say that he had "fuse wire fingers" and were totally repelled by him and his frequent mispronounciation of the riders' names - it was glaringly obvious that he was never a cyclist and we despised him for that!
so - why retro? i first got into the bike around 1982 when a school chum was lucky enough to get a raleigh road bike with 531 main tubes. we would go up to his house and just sit, blether and GAZE at this bike - it was like something unique, something that only "professionals" would have and clearly out of the reach of some spotty teens working the chicken farm at weekends for pocket money.
this must have been around the time that video recorders had just come out as i remember that channel 4 had just started screening nightly shows of the tour de france but think that world of sport also combined the weekend shows. my neighbour knew of my sudden obsession and leant me his video recorder to tape the lot while he was away on holiday. for some reason we couldn't figure out how to set it up properly and ended up with it taped in black and white.
i too remember the excitement of riding full belt - the five miles home from town where i worked in the bike shop, screaming past "creeper" commuters with the "panache" of a continental pro rider! sometimes we'd get a few of us riding home together and we'd always see this same poor sod with a full touring kit bike featuring such "delights" as "grab on" foam grips, blackburn panniers, ESGE mudguards and the carrot in front of the donkey - the orange long arm reflector that stuck out on a hinge by around a foot - we'd always aim for it and slap it HARD inwards as we "scorched" past this unsuspecting lad!!" god, we were little shites when you look back on it but it was all adrenaline fuelled, testosterone charged fun at that age..
anyway, i digress. here are some photos for you - all blurry as only "pop camera" shots can be from that era. the one below shows me, aged 22 (5th from the left) finishing an APR in 3rd place on the monikie circuit, up near dundee in 1989. there was already one guy well away who won it, but this was the sprint for second place. the anaemic lad on the left took second and i managed to use my ridiculously proportioned elbows to good effect to prevent anyone coming past me, for third place! i'll never forget sprinting with that bike - a brand new tvt carbone - and being amazed at how it all just "went forward". in hindsight, it was probably the sight of the whole bunch amassing around 20 yards behind me that made it go forward!!
the fellow in yellow, (what a poet) second on the left in the photo was our "motivator" for the day. he was an "older guy" who annoyed us so much with his dundonian accent repeatedly saying, "COME ON LADS - WE'RE ALL WINNERS TH' DAY!!" that we ended up trying to ride him off of our wheels! the poor lad was only trying to get some cameraderie going but as daft young "rebels" we saw this as an annoyance rather than any help..
it was a great race although on the first lap i was suffering like mad, as i always did until i warmed up. i thought that i might chuck it but then on the climb, i found myself riding alongside this "wanker" who was trying to be the biggest poser in the field. he took one look at me with my iridium oakley factory pilots, corsa record tvt bike and actually scoffed out loud, "HA! WHO ARE YOU
TRYING TO KID!!" i remember him looking at me up and down and shaking his head in mock distaste and me being so incensed that i "bolted on" a brand new pair of greg lemond powered legs and buried myself to get shot of him!! i rode so hard that he was off the back of the pack by the next lap and the bugger dropped out!
the photo below is of my entry in my ron kitching cyclist's diary that i religiously filled out after every single bike run, race etc over a period of 5 years between 1985 and 1990. i lost interest after that. did anyone else anywhere in the country have one of these diaries?!
we took our bikes to france in the summer and got hammered by a bunch of yorkshire first and second cat riders who were over there for the season. i have never seen descending like these guys - no hands, hands behind their backs, chest on the bars and STILL getting away from us!
(NB: does anyone know a guy called nigel from the sheffield area? he'd be in his 40s now i'm guessing. he rode
from his home town to bonson, near st ettienne in june/ july of 1990! i will remember for the rest of my life his catchphrase of "bollocks mayyyte!
" in his heavy accent, but what a bike rider this wee chap was!)
the two bikes below are the tvt and the raleigh 753 that i had (STUPIDLY) resprayed and chromed from the original panasonic colours.
i also had a violet coloured vitus once the tvt was sold on to buxted - you can see a couple of photos of me with it on alpe d'huez that summer complete with fignon style sweatband to keep my buffon 80s "do" in check!
and "winning" the stage! actually, it was the day after bugno pipped lemond to the line..what a stage that was..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXiv6GssEfU
and my two chums who took great delight in riding me off of their wheels on a daily basis for many years and who are still as mental about cycling as they were back then. i guess it's good for the motivation to have a brother to slag you senselessly if you don't get out there and get on with it!!
and one of the brothers, buxted, (cos he resembled a chicken) looks like he's saying "YOU DIDN'T EVEN RIDE
IT IN ONE GO!!"
and this is me today - mid 40s, bald as a coot, a bit of a belly (tho' i can still just about squeeeeeze
into that french national jersey that i wore in the late 80s!) and still play those fabulous memories in my head when i go out for a blast on the old bike. i prefer to have my head in the past, like you said, in a time where all things cycling really were "the good old days", just like your father and mine would have described their respective eras on the bike.
"aye lad, ah were right 'bout that saddle though...."
vive le retro ...
TvT, Oakleys & painkillers . ..
..what else could you possibly need?!!