Ged’s turning back time on the saddle
AT 75-years-old, few would blame ex-Tour of Britain rider Ged Coles for wanting to put his feet up at his Levington home.
But he is having none of it and can be instead found resting his aching joints on a nightly basis after yet another gruelling training ride on his bike.
While it is not unheard of for a seventy-something to be riding a bike, the fact that the veteran can still equal the times he set when in his thirties is more difficult to comprehend.
And that is not the end of the story. It is not as though Ged has been racing for the last four decades - he only returned to racing in August 2006 after a 36-year break, his last race being on March 3, 1970.
“I went for my medical (in 2006) and I disagreed with the doctor who said he thought my blood pressure was okay,” he recalled.
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“I went and got my bike out that had been stood in the garage without a chain on for years and within a month, my blood pressure had come down from 140 to 120.
“The first time I went out on my bike, I did my first ride in about 45 minutes and when I came back, I wish I hadn’t have bothered!
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“I started taking it easy after that but slowly got fitter and 12 months later, I decided to have a race.”
Ged rode as an independent racer in the 1960s and competed in the Tour of Britain on three occasions – winning the King of the Mountains jersey once – as well as the Peace Race which took in Berlin, Warsaw and Prague.
However, he quit when all independent racers became professional and concentrated instead on boat racing, gliding and flat-green bowls.
“I was in a pack (of racers) one day, we were training all the time and I just thought to myself ‘why am I doing this?’,” said Ged, who is married to Margaret.
“On my return 36 years later, when I entered my first race, which was a 10-mile one, I told my brother I would do it in 25 minutes while he said I would complete it in 30.
“I got to the turn in 15 minutes and decided that I really needed to up my pace and I got back in 10 minutes.
“I look at all my times and I used to find myself towards the back of the field when I first started back but now I am coming back up towards the halfway mark.”
Ged races for Wolsey Road Club and competes in veteran standard events.
“I have raced every week this year and I have mostly finished around the 24-minute mark in every 10 mile race,” said Ged, who has won 15 of his 20 standard events this season, coming second in the other five.
“The vets standards start at 40-years-old and each year another 15 seconds is added on to your time so, at my age, I am expected to finish the race in 33 minutes 38 seconds. I am doing it in 24 minutes.
“There is another rider, Peter Baumber, from Cambridge and he is 80. Some times he will beat me and sometimes I will return the favour.
“If I can take off another minute I will be up there with the top four or five in the country for my age.
“The best I have done was when I won a Veterans Time Trials Association (VTTA) this year, completing a 25-mile race in 1:08mins when my standard is 1:28.38mins.
“I still think I have got more to take off but not much more.
“I just try and do my best. It keeps me fit and quite honestly I am 100 per cent lucky to be doing it at my age.”