Papa G and Didi the infamous El Diablo
Papa G. I obviously had no involvement in it. It’s on account of me being a…. and having loads of kids. It could be worse.
Used to take old BMX’s apart and put them back together with my mate Shane as a teenager and then fall off them trying to jump over stuff. In my late teens I started going out with a girl who lived 20 miles away and a bike was the only way I could get over there. The MAMIL seeds were sewn when I was 30 – classic cliché; commuting in London became an obsession and we’re up to date.
Best/worst moments on a bike?
I find the worst moments become the best moments over time. Lying at the side of the road on a 1st CAT climb from Jubrique to Penas Blancas in Spain in July 2014 stands out. I had clearly decided I was so hard that it would okay to ride more than 80 miles non-stop from sea level to Ronda via and Hors CAT and then back via some other big lumps in 30+ degree heat with nothing more than a 500ml bottle of water. I was very wrong and remember actually wondering as I lay there, with no shade, no water, no food, no phone signal and no sign of any other humans, whether I would get out of that situation. I did of course (I’m not looking across a scrabble board at Tom Simpson as I write this) and the poor lady in the newsagents in Estepona will probably never shake the image of a sun-ravaged lycra-clad idiot stuffing marsh mallows in his sweaty face before he had even paid for them.
There are always dark moments on long rides and there are always moments of total joy. I’ve learned not to get too upset or excited about either.
Papa G and Gerro
Come on, there must be some best moments?
In September 2016 I rode with some others around the outside of the M25 and (STRAVA) drew a massive H through the London boroughs. We covered 315 miles in 20 hours in the saddle. At about 270 miles I thought I couldn’t go on for the umpteenth time. We stopped at a BP garage and I had a can of coke. Hard to describe what happened next but it was as close to Zen as I think I could ever get. My legs felt disconnected from my the rest of my body, like watching something happening that I wasn’t controlling – and I felt amazing, it’s a feeling I’ll always remember.
Oh, and high-fiving Didi the Devil at Dragon Ride 2017 was quite something. I think I love him and that he might love me too.
What bikes do you own?
A steel frame that Viking RPR originally built up and gave me as a gift. I have since had it resprayed and built it up with some old mis-matched Campag stuff. It’s my go-to bike for Dunwich Dynamo. I have a Focus Cayo from 2010. The original Ultegra group it came with is still going strong – I commute on it, abuse it, never clean it and it never lets me down (of course it will immediately now I’ve said that). My A-bike is a Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 which is fine but not very exciting. I’m waiting for a time in my life when I can commission some sort of Feather/Talbot/Saffron steel affair. I’ve a way to go but live in hope.
What does your cycling future hold?
Joining the Baroudeurs has been a blast and instantly increased my fitness over the last few months to a level where I feel as strong as I ever have. So I’m going to try not to get thrown out of the club. Apart from that I’ll keep riding for as long and as often as the legs will let me.
Game face Papa G
The future will almost certainly involve my wife looking at my newly shorn legs with unimaginable disappointment every Spring for the rest of our lives.
:: Meet more of the Baroudeurs