It’s 2019, kids, and we’re starting the New Year off right. With you! A few months ago, Journal Velo put out the question, How the hell did you get into the sport of cycling?
How did pro cycling first entice you? For me, it was watching the nightly Tour de France highlights in the 80s and just falling for the whole spectacle. The garishly clad riders taking on each other and some brutal roads sucked me in.
When I put the question out on Twitter, the replies told a story of how someone had stumbled upon the sport and fell under the spell – and they show such a joy for the sport!
By far the most popular response came from people who, like me, caught glimpses of Le Tour every summer:
Listened to you on @VeloVoices podcast. Your cycling journey is very similar to mine. Got into it through Channel 4, drifted away towards the end of the Armstrong years and returned thanks to streaming and social media.
— Neil (@Sky_Blue_Neil) 20 February 2018
But before C4, there was World of Sport and Robert Miller …
Watching the tour on world of sport in the late 70s then this guy Miller came on the scene, skinny bloke from the west of Scotland inspiring other skinny wee blokes in the west of Scotland to ride bikes… hooked ever since
— Donald Young (@SlapshotJC) 21 February 2018
Yep – same for me. But, to be fair, back then (pre-internet, pre-YouTube) it was the only exposure procycling got in the US…
— Lois Horwitz (@LoisHorwitz) 20 February 2018
French teacher brought in tape of C4 highlights to watch – 1987 Tour – hooked ever since. Surprising after having spent half of the previous 10 years in France took being in England to get sucked in.
— Dan V (@cobbledClassic) 20 February 2018
Started with watching the Tour on Channel 4 but became more of a fan in he 90’s when we got Eurosport and so saw more races. Probably the first Classic I saw was the ’94 Paris -Roubaix. Terrible weather, Duffields commentary and Tchmils long solo ride for the win.
— Richard (@algatrensig) 20 February 2018
Having local riders at the sharp end of le Tour helped lots too:
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The 1985 Tour via Channel 4. We used to go to France every few years on holiday so when it seemed like a natural thing to watch. Finding out as a 9 yr old that two of the best were Irish helped.
— Matthew Lysaght (@MatthewLysaght) 20 February 2018
Watching Channel 4 coverage after school/work. Loved the alpine stages. Boardman riding Tour was also a factor and my favourite rider was Ullrich. Armstrong took coverage to the next level and I was a fan of his too. Then I began doing tri and cycling myself about 10 years ago.
— Giles Hyland (@GilesHyland) 20 February 2018
Same. 1st memory is seeing Roche celebrating win in ’87 & couldn’t understand how he was the race winner when he wasn’t 1st over the line! My Dad had to explain it was a 3 week race & I’ve been fascinated ever since
— Joanna Cooksey (@MsFennyBentley) 20 February 2018
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July 1996, husband said turn on the TV, a rider from a German team is winning the TdF. I did so and have been hooked ever since.
— Susan Westemeyer (@WestemeyerSusan) 20 February 2018
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kelly and roche…in the newspapers…sounded hard and brilliant…cycling explorers…hard as nails both..
— daveno7 (@daveno7) 20 February 2018
My first serious girlfriend at 16 was an avid fan. Started catching some bits of cycling during Sastre/Early Contador TdF era. Started seriously watching Tour in Evans/Schlecks/Contador era. Giro with Purito & Hesjedaal got me hooked up to non-tdf cycling.
— Badger (@badgerbaroudeur) 20 February 2018
The Tour was by a mile the most popular gateway into cycling but the Olympics played a part too:
— Angus Coutts (@angusmaroon) 20 February 2018
— Linda Billett (@Thehenlady) 20 February 2018
Damn that was a long time ago I caught the cycling bug. 1968 Olympic road race Leif Mortensen was 2nd. Won amateur WC in 1969 and was 2nd in 70 when Joergen Schmidt won amateur race. That was the start and later the Tour when the Danes started getting results😎🇩🇰
— Procyclingnews.eu (@Procyclingeu) 21 February 2018
Then there were those people whose first exposure to the sport came from being at a race… sometimes accidentally!Embed from Getty Images
I couldn’t go to church becos Joburg’s biggest cycling race was passing through my suburb. The next year I joined them and I haven’t looked back
— LeMondZüid (@LeMondZuid) 20 February 2018
Seeing local road races in Switzerland when I was a lad.
— misterarthur 🌊 (@misterarthur) 21 February 2018
Was on holiday in Pyrenees,in the early 80’s.A TDF stage went thru the town we were staying in.I was hooked after that. Then listening to Duffers on Eurosport onwards.
— Andrew James (@badbrainAJ) 20 February 2018
Shortly after I met my partner, I was invited to go on their family trip to their house in the Pyrenees and we watched a stage go through Angeles Gazost. It was the year Sastre won. I was hooked after that.
— Simon (@broom_wagon) 20 February 2018
This reply is a bit more niche but probably the ultimate response …
My parents both raced at World Champs… latterly they took me to watch the 1982 Worlds as a kid, and from that an obsession grew.
— Colin A Sturgess (@ColinASturgess) 20 February 2018
And finally thanks to Midge, of this parish, for reminding me that the Tour de France wasn’t the only bike race seen on TV in the UK in the 80s
Same as you, but earlier than Indurain. Also the Milk Race, City Centre Cycling But then I lost the sport until 2010s
— midge (@pariswheels) 20 February 2018
So How The Hell did we get into cycling? Simply seeing it at some place and some time… that’s all it took.
For me, it was the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. I lived in LA for the first 30 years of my life, and the Olympics were in my backyard. Watching Nelson Vails, Connie Caroenter-Phinney, Davis Phinney, Mark Gorski, and see a couple if Gold Medals in the Velodrome got me going. Add the movie Breaking Away, and I’m there.