Never too old for two wheels
Think that cycling is just the preserve of the young? Think again! Good friends John Pybus, 81 (who we'll call John 1), and John Paylor, 70 (known here as John 2), both residents at Dinsdale Court, Middleton-St-George, prove that you're never too old to get out and explore your area on two wheels. We joined them for a chat about first bikes, teaching the grandchildren to ride and 75th birthday presents...
How often do you go out on your bikes?
John 1: I go out every day if I can. I do anything from 3 to 20 miles, depending on the weather and what I have on. I like to go out early in the morning, usually between six and half past seven. I have been out at half past five sometimes. It’s a quiet time. The birds are singing, the rabbits are out…
John 2: Are you sure Betty didn’t throw you out!
John 1: It's just me escaping! I’ve not had a car for six years, so the bike is more than ever of use to me now.
You must know some good rides around here?
John 1: Yes, there are a few quiet roads left. Last Saturday I went from here to Sadberge, then to the Sedgefield road, then on to Bishopton and Redmarshall, then to the outskirts of Stockton and then back to Sadberge and down here.
John 2: I go out about once a week with my mates in the village, and we go on the back road to Aisleby and down to Stockton and go to Yarm. But I use other transports as well. I do have a car as well, to get around with the wife, but I use the trains. I’ve actually just booked to go with my granddaughter to go down to London.
Do you use the bike just for leisure or do you do shopping as well?
John 1: I do sometimes bike into Darlington and I find the cycle path from the pub right through to Macmillan Road is quite handy so you don’t have to go on the road.
John 2: Well that’s excellent, isn't it, because they've just upgraded it last year. It’s really, really good. It protects people as well, doesn't it.
How did you get into cycling?
John 1: I got my first bike just after the war. The Canadian Air Force was down here at Durham Tees Valley, but it was called RAF Goosepool then. After the war, when they were they were selling off things that they couldn't take back to Canada and I got my bike for five shillings. And I've been riding a bike ever since! When I started work my mother bought me a bike, a brand new one, that was £3 I think. I was serving my apprenticeship in Darlington and we all used to bike to work in those days...
John 2: And there weren't many buses then, were there. Or cars.
John 1: When I was a lad, in our village I think there were only five cars. And when you go through now the road’s lined with cars. I got a new mountain bike for my 75th birthday! I said to my friend, there aren't many people who’d say they like a bike for their 75th birthday and he said I don’t think many people of 75 would want one!
John 2: I've always biked into work or to play football or to cricket matches. I taught all my grandchildren to ride, every one of them! My grandson was talking about it just the other week. He’s 20 now and he says, “Granddad, you used to take me round the old thorn tree, through the cut, and you pushed me through there through all those hawthorns!”
What benefits do you get from cycling?
John 2: I like the fresh air, because I'm out in the air anyway being the garden. It’s finding the time to ride at the minute. So it’s only about once a week. John’s out more than me…
John 1: If I didn't have my bike and I’d be sitting here all day, I’d go mad!
Does it keep you fit and healthy?
John 1: Well I'm 81 and still riding! I don’t get out of breath, so it must do me some good. I think it keeps your legs going all right as well and if you’re walking about as well. I do a lot of walking as well. And if you need to lose weight, that’s a big factor. I mean, look how skinny we are!