The bike was a pale blue ‘Paramount’ from a local cycle dealer near my home town of Nottingham, actually I think the frame was made by Mercian of Derby but with Paramount stickers. It was bought from a friend of my dad’s and, of course, was second hand. The man, who was a member of the local camera club (that’s how my Dad knew him), was also a member of the Beeston Road Club. He suggested that maybe if I wanted to join some of the club riders on a Sunday for a ride that he would make sure I was ok and he often went on the rides too.
My family have never travelled outside of England, we didn’t speak any languages and so when I used to come home and start talking to my father about Jaques Anquetil or Fausto Coppi my Dad said ‘where did you get those words from, what do they mean?’
At the age of 12 I rode my first race – got completely hooked on the competitive spirit, the teamwork and, of course, something called The Tour de France – and more words to confuse my father started to appear, to mention a few: Maillot Jaune, Le Classement General, Pyrenees, Le Tour, Champion du Monde, Tourmalet, Directeur de la Course, Alpe d’Huez. Of course, I probably pronounced them completely incorrectly but…
My obsession continued and I then became a junior having to apply for a racing license and also started to ride the track, saving up and getting a yellow Paramount track bike. Of course, I kept the bikes in my bedroom – much to the horror of my mum – so I could worship them constantly. Without realising it, this was probably the start of my interest in how I looked and how ‘things’ looked. The correct shoes, socks, shorts, hat… everything.
The Rapha + Paul Smith Cap, based on Sir Paul’s original Beeston RC cap, and the entire 2011 collection is available here »