The world is full of people that inspire and motivate us, and each of us has a list of personal heroes. Specifically, in the world of cycling, there are legends that have inspired us to start cycling and individuals that have motivated us to keep those pedals turning. This week, I’d like to share with you some of the people that have inspired me and whom I respect for what they have done for me and my cycling journey.
Back in the eighties, legendary riders, such as Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche with their Tour de France exploits, made we want to become a world-famous cyclist. Although they may have given me my childhood motivation, it was my dad who taught me the most important lessons. He taught me to never give up – it’s the first rule of climbing, as we all know. Standing on the pedals whilst on the final cog of my beloved five-speed road bike, he’d tell me to keep going, to breathe, not look at the summit, and count my pedal revolutions – invaluable lessons. And, when competing in a club 12-hour event through horrendous weather, he wouldn’t quit and took the win, even though not the fastest rider – quitters never win.
Fast forward to the noughties, a very young Ryan Mullen joined our club rides and progressed to take part in our club TT series. Back then he didn’t have the confidence of a professional rider and, to be honest, was an awkward early teenager who only had one goal: to become a professional cyclist. Living away from the development hubs of Manchester and London, he did the only thing he knew – rode hard, focused on his goals, and stayed humble. Today, he may now be an inspiration to countless young riders, but back then he showed a bunch of us has-beens and wannabes that total focus is the true path to achieving anything and everything you desire.
To bring us right up to date, yesterday I was fortunate to hangout with another rider who has demonstrated what focus and commitment can deliver, namely my sister-in-law Rhian. When she started triathlon, she had hurdles to overcome - she didn’t exactly look like your typical triathlete, being short and in need of losing a few pounds (sorry Rhi) and having to learn to ride a bike. Through total focus and dedication, she rapidly moved from a first-time Sprint entrant to bronze World age-group holder and two times age group European champion. Hundreds of victories and two children later, she and Simon (her husband and my brother) run two businesses, are raising two wonderful children, still competing and winning, and sharing the love of triathlon through the Gog Triathlon club and her coaching service TriRox Training. Their hectic schedule reminds me that there’s no such thing as a lack of time and that if you truly believe and are willing to invest your efforts, anything is possible.
Finally, the thousands of cyclists old and young, fat and thin, fit and unfit, and fast and slow, remind me that cycling is the most inclusive sport, full of inspirational individuals. There are older riders like Robert Marchand who holds the hour record for a centenarian, Walter Fowler the octogenarian track champion, my friend Stuart who gained a 10 mile PB at seventy years of age, and the riders who have overcome their own battles to find cycling happiness, such as Lucy Edwards and Get Fit Graham. We all share a wonderful sport that brings us together on a shared journey of happiness, inspiration, and personal achievement.