May 10, 2013 How The Bike Got Into Me I didn't know him at the time but I remember seeing Antoine Ventouse getting off his orange J F Wilson bike in town, lean, shaven tanned legs, Hebden cord short-shorts, vintage embroidered french jersey, looking the part in the sun. I'd already decided that I wanted to become a cyclist and I'd bought a second hand 531 steel bike and done a few short rides on my own but I had no idea of where to go from there. I introduced myself to Antoine, we talked about the bike and about clobber, became friends and he gave me the pointers and advice I needed. I had lost interest in playing football; it's not really something you can do on your own and organising games of football around other people was hard. And you don't see many blokes playing football past the age of 40. I wanted something new and different and cycling held a lot of appeal. There was something romantic about being an endurance athlete. And the aesthetic of professional riders past and present was undeniable - they looked hard and lean. It wasn't just pros either. I'd seen knarly old boys on touring bikes with saddlebags that looked like they had ridden all of their lives and they looked lean and healthy. If I fostered the same lifetime habit, I knew that I'd be adding years to my life. And there was the limitless freedom that the bike offered; setting off and riding as far from home as you fancied whenever you fancied it with no train timetables or traffic jams to hinder your progress and no cost - just some food in your belly for fuel and the strength in your legs. I didn't know it at the time but once I started riding I discovered the social appeal of riding 6 inches apart for hours at a time chatting as a pair or in a group, in the same way as you might with a mate down the pub but rolling around Derbyshire enjoying some of the nicest views in Europe, if not the world, instead. And it becomes a social currency in the same way that football is. People want to chat about the bike and organise rides. I've ridden with and met some ace people. I've had some of my best experiences and most interesting conversations while on the bike. Long may it continue!