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).
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.