Saturday, 31 December 2011

'GOALS' FOR 2012

Three main cycling goals for 2012:
Updates in blue
1 Enter my first sportive [finished 123rd out of 154 after cramping due to hydration mistake - May Flyer 13/05/2012 54 miles, 3400 ft of climbing!]
2 Break 22 mins for 1 lap of Richmond Park (23.30 is my PB)
[UPDATE: 22:45 on 07/05/2012 in heavy rain. Close but no cigar]
[UPDATE: 21.30 on 18/05/12!! Mission accomplished!]
3 Try track cycling at Herne Hill Velodrome
[Two laps of Welwyn Track complete, 'guided' by Laura Trott!]
1 There are plenty of sportives around so no excuses.
2 Bearing in mind David Millar managed a lap in 13 minutes, you'd think 22 minutes would be easy. Unfortunately my 23 mins 30 secs record was a bit of a killer, so not sure how I'm going to achieve this one. Being 55 is no excuse apparently. My last attempt was 26 minutes but it was windy.
3 As for track cycling, here's two reasons why it'd be great to give it a try!

I've never ridden fixed gear and was quite looking forward it until a work colleague told me of the time he won a race at Herne Hill and threw his arms up as he crossed the winning line and stopped pedalling. He was wearing an old fashioned helmet which saved him from serious injury, but he hasn't raced since.

Thursday, 1 December 2011


Being a cameraman with ITN has its advantages.
Yesterday morning I was just about to head off to the Iranian embassy because Britain was about to expel all Iranian diplomats,when the call came through; "Have you got a suit with you? Are you smartly dressed? There's a job at the Palace". Had a hunch it might be Cav receiving his MBE, and indeed it was. Not only that but Bryan Ferry, another hero of mine (from my youth) had also also agreed to be interviewed.
So I with my fingers crossed that I might get it through on expenses I whizzed off to Moss Bros to buy 'the cheapest suit in the shop'. I'd always kept a suit in my locker for these occasions but last time I put it on it was greeted with hoots of derision by my colleagues for being "so 80s" (well I bought it about '89 so not surprising!).
Arriving (with ITN 'one for the future' journalist Will Mott) at the Palace with minutes to spare I got chatting to Sun photographer Paul Edwards. He's a very fine fellow I'd worked alongside many times over the years. He's also a bit of a cycling nut, and he promised to get a snap of me with Cavendish, should the opportunity arise.
We were led through to the central courtyard in the Palace where the award recipients are allowed to park and where they queue to have their photos taken. I've interviewed many 'celebs' in this courtyard over the years, from Leslie Phillips (who was hilarious) to the Bee Gees, from Victoria Pendleton, to Brian May.
But with Cav there was a heightened expectation, because he's truly something of a living legend to any cycling fan; possibly the fastest road cyclist of all time, Tour de France green jersey winner, newly crowned World Road Race Champion, and probably the most successful British road cyclist ever. 
I chatted to Will Mott about the forthcoming interview, giving him far too much information about Cav's career. 
Photo: Paul Edwards

Then we heard he was in a bad mood. A gang of press guys were muttering darkly about Mark blanking the P.A. journalist inside the Palace and being grumpy. 
So about thirty seconds later he's come wandering over to the press area led by (possibly) his agent. I just walked up to him, shook his hand and said that I work for ITV and that I'm a massive fan - and asked for an interview. Once I said I was a fan his whole demeanour changed, he smiled and said "yeah, of course, no problem". At this point his minder said "no, we've got to do Sky first" and led him away, but he said he'd be right back.
At this point (and it's now beginning to get surreal), Bryan Ferry's suddenly standing there and we had a little chat about his summer gig at Kew Gardens that I'd attended. 
During his interview he admitted to being a Cavendish fan and said he'd been a cyclist in his youth. 
The Ferry interview over we could see Sky still interviewing Cavendish, but that soon ended and he headed our way. He was intercepted by the snappers but pointed to us saying we're next, which was good news for us as our lunchtime news deadline was fast approaching. 
Will Mott for some reason didn't ask my suggested questions about gear inches, Milan-San Remo, or Specialized/Pinarello bike comparisons, but for some reason asked him what it was like meeting the Queen:

Hoping to update this to a longer version if one appears?

Right after the interview he signed my copy of Pro Cycling magazine to Tommy & Lucas (my 5 & 9 year olds) and he asked me about my training methods. OK he actually asked me if I cycled, and I blathered on about how having five bikes can cause disharmony at home and that it was all his fault. He actually did a brilliant impression of someone who was interested, so full marks to him for that.
At this point Bryan Ferry's introduced himself to Cav and the two chatted away for a few minutes while Will and I tried not to listen.
Paul from the Sun then admitted he'd forgotten to do a snap of us together but suggested that I asked Mark if he'd mind posing for one. To be honest, you don't want to hassle your heroes too much, but took the plunge and he was absolutely fine about it. I think we're bessie mates now and I imagine he'll be retweeting my tweets and everything.
Later that day he tweeted: "@markcavendish: Lovely morning at Buckingham Palace to receive my MBE from Queen Elizabeth II. Met a lot of lovely people." Reading between the lines it's obvious he's refering to me and NOT Bryan Ferry or all the army Afghanistan veterans he met.

Bryan Ferry doesn't look like this any more: