Guy Martin's bike

Guy Martin's bike was apparently stolen a couple of weeks ago – not his racing motorcycle but an Orange Alpline 160 mountain bike, stolen from his van. This is not the first time someone has fancied owning Guy's bicycles. In 2009 his Scott Ransom 10 and an Orange 224 GBR were stolen from a farm where he works. He also works in a truck yard but those are presumably day jobs, as Guy Martin is best known as a motorcycle racing star in the Isle of Man TT. Less people know that he also enjoys bicycle racing (or pushbike racing as he calls it).

Guy Martin's recently stolen mountain bike

His pushbike races include the Megavalanche on the Alpe d'Huez, the Tour of Flanders, the British Championship downhill (I think), and the Isle of Man End to End mountain bike race. He's also cycled the C2C in one day from Workington to Newcastle and rides in Wales and the Peaks in Derbyshire.

Guy Martin refers to himself as "a bit of a Fred Dibnah throwback at heart" and it's easy to see why. He now has his own TV series on the BBC: 'The Boat That Guy Built' which started last week and will run for another five. It centres around him and 'Mave', his friend, fitting out a narrowboat using British innovations from the Industrial Revolution. I enjoyed the programme. They were mostly fooling around on a canal barge but Guy made a Wedgwood tea mug and helped with a DIY blast furnace to make a cast iron pot for brewing the tea in.

Guy on the BBC with a model steam engine

What makes this quite watchable is not simply his impish charisma and charm as a raconteur but the knowledge that, like steeplejack Fred, this same man is equally laid back about doing something very dangerous indeed. Not the barge, the Isle of Man TT. Guy Martin has had several high speed crashes at the TT. Here's what he said in a BBC interview:

"I've been in this situation all the time. You know... it comes with the job really. You're racing motorbikes and you can always tumble down the road. If you're not crashing you're not trying. When it's happening you know it's happening. You just let it happen. You know, if you tense up or alter what's going to happen it's going to end up hurting yourself."

No alter-ego: Guy Martin racing in the Isle of Man TT at Oliver's Mount

So this thursday I'd planned a bike ride with my cousin – one of my regular local loops but with an extra stretch along the Leeds-Liverpool canal to look at some narrow boats. I reckoned his skinny road tyres would cope with the tow path. In the morning he phoned to say he couldn't come so Sandra decided to come along instead. It was a lovely day. We cycled through the village of Brindle near Chorley then turned on to the canal at a place called The Boatyard at Riley Green.


On a hill near Brindle – somewhere in the valley runs the canal

The tow path turned out to be a strip of deep wet mud until it came up to the outskirts of Chorley (where it has a tarmac surface). My cousin would not have managed on his road bike. Sandra hurt her shoulder trying to navigate her tourer through the slop and when we got home I spent an hour cleaning the bikes.


Narrow boats (barges) and an old mill on the canal

I don't like the canal environment. It seems to offer potential for easy cycling in pleasant country but the tow paths are too often muddy, littered with rubbish and full of dog walkers going the same way as me, though we might have passed Guy Martin's boat somewhere.

10 comments on “Guy Martin's bike”

  1. Chris wrote:

    I've had a car and a mountain bike pinched from outside the flats – two different places – where I lived at the times of the thefts. Neither were worth very much, but I'd be gutted if any of my current vehicles got nicked.

    I watched most of the programme. He seems like a bit of a character, and his enthusiasm is infectious. I hope to watch the rest of the series. That boat lift (is that what it was called?) was especially impressive in a programme about inventions from the Industrial Revolution. Good stuff. But was that vase thing really worth £9,000? Did I hear that right?

    I have to confess, however, that I'd never heard of Guy Martin. It's not something I'm proud of, but I tend to notice motor sport only when watching some spectacular crash unfold on television. Are the words 'motor' and 'sport' a contradiction in terms?

    Canal towpaths – and disused railway lines – are too variable in this country to be relied upon for cycling I reckon. I hope Sandra has recovered.

    Pity about Guy's pushbike. Splendid sideburns, though.

  2. Patrick wrote:

    Sandra's shoulder seems ok again now, thanks Chris. You're cycle touring and you can always tumble down the road.

    Chris wrote: Are the words 'motor' and 'sport' a contradiction in terms?

    I don't think so, at least not if you've seen TT footage on TV. It seems insane. 180 mph through villages and country lanes with stone walls at the side, and the bikes leaping and twitching as they dice only feet apart. You think it's crazy, especially as riders are killed every year (it seems), but it's sport at the very extreme. The only other 'sport' where the risks are so high is Himalayan climbing. There's a place for these things in a world otherwise governed by sponsors and risk management, as people who do it are a little bit special. Pottering around in narrow boats seems a strange contrast.

  3. Kern wrote:

    In the early 90's we were living in Toronto and had purchased bikes for the whole family. The kids still talk about me taking them riding through the Don Valley, a ravine that bisects Toronto, though I recall doing it only once.

    We used to lock our bikes to the front porch railing with a heavy chain – the porch roof kept them sheltered. The bikes lasted out there only a few weeks; one morning we came out and they were gone. It was a morning in June just after the birthday of Jake, our middle child. His friends had all given him bike accessories for birthday gifts – he lost them all.

    That was when I stopped cycling (though Mary always kept it up).

    It turns out the shop from which we purchased the bikes was in cahoots with a ring of bike thieves. The shop passed on the addresses of customers, and the thieves filched the bikes. The ring was uncovered a few years ago – they had a warehouse literally packed to the rafters with stolen bikes. Bad (but not-so-instant) karma.

  4. Patrick wrote:

    I hope it didn't put Jake off cycling. In contrast:


    At a bus stop in Denmark – bike left unlocked all day (a Raleigh, as it happens).

  5. Hilary wrote:

    I get scared if I go above 25mph on my bike – I don't think motorbike racing is for me!!
    I've never had a bike stolen (touch wood!) but I do have nightmares about it. When I was a student in Liverpool I was the only person I knew who cycled regularly and didn't have at least one bike stolen. I think the fact that it was a bright pink ladies frame helped!

  6. Mary wrote:

    Ask any woman about Guy Martin, and she will mutter 'What a man' as she swoons to the floor!

    I met him briefly while cycling the End to End in 2009, and I understand he was also in the 2010 event last September as well, but how he made it to fitness is anyones guess. He had the most appauling and unsurvivable bike crash during the 2010 TT. Google him and you will see a total fireball that somehow he managed to not get fried in.

    He has a great character and is a very popular chap here.

    I hope he manages to get his bike back, if not there will be a queue forming to loan him a machine for the 2011 End to End.

  7. Mary wrote:

    Ah, found a picture of his incident.

    He really was a cat with 9 lives last summer!

  8. dave burst wrote:

    you rock ......
    couldnt figure why ,then i find outc
    ,,,,yourre a bluddy bikr
    brit bikes rock come dawn t our cafe loomies
    fair play mate,,,,,,,,,,

  9. Craig wrote:

    that picture is Guy racing at olivers mount! Not the isle of man TT

  10. Patrick wrote:

    Corrected. Thanks.

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