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When I met Michael, he’d just returned from a trip to Mallorca with his cycling club. They’d been out there for a week riding anywhere between 30 and 150 miles a day. A picture of health and fitness, I asked him if he’d always been sporty.
‘Oh no,’ he replied, ‘when I reached 40, I thought this is the time to start taking care of myself, so I started running. I joined the local athletics club, The Redhill and Surrey Beagles, which sadly isn’t going any more, and took up running quite seriously. I ran a couple of marathons in my 40s, and continued running for many years. I enjoyed it, but my great love now is cycling.’
Michael took up cycling more as a means of transport than anything else, until he met Graham Haysom through the Cycling Forum, who was representing the Redhill Cycling Club. Michael proposed a promotional ride from Redhill to its twin town of Brunoy, just outside Paris, with the aim of passing a letter from one Mayor to the other. Michael has been hooked on distance cycling ever since and leads a ride to Paris every year on behalf of YMCA East Surrey, as one of their challenges to raise money for their work in the community. The ride can be completed in one, two or three days. This year he will lead the two-day ride.
Michael is out cycling several times a week. ‘Now I’m retired, I have plenty of time for cycling and staying fit, and I love it.’ And he’s not the only one – while the majority in the Club are in their 40s and 50s, there are ten septuagenarians who regularly cycle – a trend that is set to rise over the coming years.
Michael and his wife, Julie, take to their bikes on their holidays too. They’ve cycled all round the world from China to India, Sicily to Costa Rica, and many more places in between.
‘There’s nothing like it –when you pass through on two wheels, you feel immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of a place,’ comments Michael. ‘And dinner always feels well earned!’
Michael is a true ambassador for living a full and active life – whatever your age. Despite a couple of bicycle accidents resulting in bone fractures over the last two years, his feet remain firmly on the pedals. Clearly a man with plans, I asked him what he would like to be doing in a few years’ time.
‘My goal is to go on an 80 mile or km ride the weekend before my 80th birthday, and finish at our local Nepalese restaurant for a celebration. I most definitely want to still be on my bike.’
May Michael continue to be a true inspiration to us all for many more years to come.
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