The 2012 Tour of Britain might be done and dusted but it was a race that one set of youngsters will never forget! VeloVoices Twitter favourite John Curtis tells us about the day that his son got to meet British cycling heroes, Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, when the Tour of Britain came to Stoke-on-Trent. (All photographs courtesy of Sue Jones, Lyme RC.)
The lead out
Our cycling club, Lyme Racing Club, was asked by Stoke-on-Trent council to provide a group of youngsters to lead the professional peloton out prior to the start of stage five of the Tour of Britain – a big honour for the 21 youngsters who participated. Three young riders were also selected to make a special presentation to Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish prior to the start: Paige Millward and Sally Birchall, two talented teenagers, and my son, Izaak Curtis.
Paige Millward and Sallie Birchall are both 15 and have been members of Lyme RC for about six years. Cycling runs in their family, with Sallie following her older brother Sam into the sport. Paige’s uncle is a Masters mountain bike downhiller, who was third in the World Championships a few years ago. She has been invited several times to ride in the Revolution series at the Manchester Velodrome. Both young women have had success on the track . They were recently invited to the selection squad for the GB talent teams and are hoping to pursue a career in cycling.
My son Izaak, who is six, is known around the club as The Human Dynamo or Mighty Atom. He loves riding – everything from roller racing to mountain biking, road racing and BMX at the National Cycling Centre indoor track – and says he wants to be a pro cyclist when he grows up. Cav is his idol because he’s a sprinter [good choice – Ed] – and Izaak likes to go fast! His roller exploits are known throughout the club – he regularly comes with me to Watt bike racing and he is up for racing anyone and everyone on the rollers. The rollers are modified so his front forks are fixed and the rear wheel sits on the roller and he spins very quickly, and just goes on and on and on. It’s rather galling to have him shout to me, “Pedal faster, Daddy!”
He’s also involved with dustbin training to help with riding in a peloton. The course is narrow and twisty and his great skill is keeping the same line at speed (yep, he’ll be a sprinter). He rides with teenagers and adults and the pace he sets has many of us struggling to stay close to him – one of the reasons why he was selected with the girls to make the presentation. That and the fact that Sue Jones, who is the membership secretary and involved in getting the council to invited the club, loves him to bits. [As do I! He’s my little darling – Kitty.]
None of the three knew about the presentation until half an hour before it happened so it was a huge surprise to all of them. Of course, there was a bit of hero-worship going on and they were very excited to meet both riders – but they were too shocked to say much! Although Izaak seemed unfazed by the whole thing, he did clam up a little, which is amazing as he’s a little motor-mouth at home! Brad tried to draw him out by asking,”Aren’t you talking to me?” but Izaak was just a little shy. But everyone was wonderful to them and we have some pictures that sit in pride of place in our house!
In one photo with Cav, Izaak is handing him an application form for Lyme RC. Hmmmm, Cav is leaving Sky – is this coincidence or is this the biggest cycling scoop of the year? ‘Cav goes to Lyme RC!’ I wonder if he could follow Izaak through the dustbin training! Both Cav and Brad were polite and charming, as were all the riders that day. All the guys in the peloton took time to sign autographs, pose for pictures and have a chat with the thousands of fans who came out for the stage start. It was a special day for everyone.
But the riders weren’t the only ones who got attention from the crowd! After the presentation, Paige, Sally and Izaak were interviewed by the local radio and press and even signed autographs for the local schoolchildren. With such bright futures in cycling, anyone who did get an autograph from the Lyme RC Three might want to hang onto it … it might be the first autograph from a future world champion! All three of them would look great in the rainbow jersey …
Finally, here’s the video recap of a memorable day:
Lyme Racing Club is one of the biggest clubs in the area and is the only go-ride club – as such it has a decent junior membership. Many ride the track or get involved with club runs regularly. We’re lucky to have several dedicated and knowledgeable members who enjoy passing on their knowledge.
Thursday the 13th of September has left an indelible imprint on all the children who were invited to ride out the Pro’s that day…I mean,fancy sauntering past Cav and saying.. ‘Hi Cav hope you have a good ride today’ as my 12 year old did..moments after squeezing past Bernie Eisel. Cav replied ‘Thanks Mate’. Louis was over the moon. His Idol Spoke……to HIM.
My 8yr old daughter, and Izzaks partner in crime was also dumb struck as Brad past by HER, Not just any Brad but THE Brad Wiggins..WIGGO himself. The Gold medal Olympian. She is more determined than ever to follow in Paige and Sallie’s footsteps to get to the top. Since the Tour came to town she has cycled to school Everyday,come rain or shine, she said its what the Pro’s do and that’s what she is going to do. What other sport gives its youngsters such encouragement, and also to get so up close and personal. BIG thanks for the Tour of Britain for making it happen and to Mark Meredith from Stoke City Council for encouraging it’s return for the past 5 years.
That’s lovely to hear, Jo. It’s the little touches like saying hi that truly inspire our young ones as much as their exploits at the Tour or the Olympics, and it’s why we all love the sport so much.
Thanks folks. You tweaked it beautifully. Must give credit to Lyme RC member Steve Hall for his video. Thanks Steve.
No problem at all, John. It’s the sort of story that all of us, and Kitty especially, love, and we’re always on the look-out for more like this. Thanks to you for sharing.
I’ll add the video credit to the body text as soon as I can drag my elder son away from the PC …