In a theme that is explored in some detail in the excellent book “Playgrounds Of The Gods” by Ian Stafford, I’ve always deluded myself that I’m perfectly capable of elite level sport if I was inclined to put in the effort. As the years roll by though, it’s becoming harder and harder to find sporting contemporaries to keep this particular bubble from bursting forever. At London 2012 it was Greg Searle – someone I used to row against as a schoolboy – who came back to the sport after a long break to achieve a bronze medal in the men’s eight at the age of 40. A medal after a long break from the sport …. it really is possible you see!! But then he announced his retirement and all of a sudden I’m having to fall back on the ever faithful Ryan Giggs as the standard bearer for grey hair in top level sport.
So it was with a renewed sense of hope that I came across a piece praising the ‘super-domestique’ that is Jens Voigt. 41 years young and about to embark on his 16th , and possibly last, Tour de France
Perhaps more interesting though, was a story that Voigt tells about his 2010 Tour where he crashed, hurt himself and broke his bike into bits. Refusing to retire from the Tour, and with his support car positioned further ahead in the stage, he managed to procure himself a child’s bike complete with toe strap pedals which he rode off on in pursuit of the back of the peloton – something he describes as being like a bear riding a circus bike. It’s actually a rather heart warming story of life at the wrong end of the peloton and sheer bloody mindedness to finish the race. He tells the story here and there’s even a picture of him on the little bike!