A nonagenarian riding high

One of the oldest residents at Brian Lewis House in Oxford still takes to his bike on a daily basis – here, in his own words, is his tale:-


Hitting the road, with son and grandson

My first experience on a bicycle was as a child, but It wasn’t until later in my working life that I was to look at the positive aspects of cycling again. At that time my wife Joan was looking for some activity for me that would aid relaxation and promote better health – and cycling with my son seemed to fit the bill perfectly. I bought a Viking Victor bicycle and we cycled many evenings after work and at weekends exploring the lanes of Surrey and Kent and the Sussex coast.

One summer I joined a tour in Normandy organised by the Cyclist Touring Club. After this tour I got ‘the bug’ and, in the following years, cycle tours in France, Belgium and Germany followed. Over the years, because of the proximity of London to the south coast ports, cycle tours covered the north coast of France extensively, as well as the Loire, Alsace and Lorraine. On retiring in 1987 cycled independently across France from Dunkirk to Palavas-les-Flots on the Mediterranean coast.

Just after this trip I heard about a cycle event centred on the town of Dieppe – the Dieppe Raid – which offered a variety of routes and distances through the quiet and picturesque valleys of the rivers Scie, Varenne, Béthune and Eauline. For the last 25 years this has proved to be an annual event continuing until the present time. In recent years I have had the dubious honour of being the oldest, or as the French more delicately phrase it, the “least young” (this year at 90) participant. For the first time this year there were three generations in Dieppe, all my children and my 3-month old grandson Alec. I still cycle 8-10 miles most days, and my move to Abbeyfield has given me the opportunity to become reacquainted with the area around Oxford.

This article first appeared in Abbeyfielder, Autumn 2013.

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