Sunday, 29 April 2012

A machine of magic

Yesterday's Guardian newspaper carried an obituary for one of Britain's great old cycling writers, Albert Winstanley, who had just died, aged 95. His contribution has been described thus, that it: "evoked his lifelong love of touring on his bicycle in a series of articles that stand comparison with the very best writing about the outdoors."

He seems to have been a remarkable character, who kept cycling until the age of 92, managed to remain living in his own home until his last year of life, and was still attending Bolton Wanderers football matches in his final weeks of life. We can only speculate to what extent his active cycling life helped him to maintain his admirably active older life (but it does seem likely to have helped, doesn't it?).

The title for this blogpost comes from a quote from his writing, used in the Guardian obituary, and a wonderful piece of prose. Reading this the day after two major cycling mass-rides (Pedal on Parliament in Edinburgh and The Big Ride in London), campaigning for better, safer cycling facilities in Britain, I'm sure this lovely prose will ring a (bicycle) bell for many:

"To me a bicycle is a machine of magic ... taking me on to the ways of satisfied happiness; giving to me the good friendship I enjoy with others, and to share with me the delights and ecstasies of the outdoors. It gives to me the pleasures of mingling the past with the present ... always discovering ... always learning. Above all it gives to me also, memories to cherish and store inwardly, as I wheel my ways on joyous days ... such a day has been today.

Cover of a Winstanley classic

A great title for a cycling book!

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