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Former cabinet minister turned TV presenter swaps railway tracks for a track bike ... briefly

Michael Portillo swapped railway tracks for a track bike in last night's episode of the BBC TV series Great British Railway Journeys - and had a bit of a moment as he lost balance and came crashing back to earth, though luckily for him, a coach helped break his fall.

The programme saw the former cabinet minister travel from Letchworth Garden City in Hertfordshire to Herne Hill, and the velodrome that is the last surviving venue of the 1948 Olympic Games.

After learning about the history of the velodrome from Peter Cattermole, who helped lead the campaign to save the venue, the 64-year-old emerged from the pavilion in Friends of Herne Hill Velodrome jersey and shorts.

Still sporting a pair of red suede slip-on loafers - we'd like to think this isn't the start of a track cycling trend - he was helped to mount the fixed-wheel bike by cycling coach Joseph Alberti of VC Londres and happily went for a quick spin.

Everything was going swimmingly until, at the end of the ride, Portillo - still on the bike - attempted to shake Alberti's hand, overbalanced, and would have had a nastier fall than he ended up having had the coach not intervened.

Watch it here on BBC iPlayer (UK only) - the segment on Herne Hill Velodrome starts at around 22 minutes 15 seconds.

H/T to Andy Thornley for the spot.

 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

10 comments

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fenix [862 posts] 1 week ago
4 likes

Ooh new railway journey series ? Excellent. I like this stuff and bonus points for crashing for our amusement. 

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Duncann [1175 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

British cyclist takes a dive for Britain. Not for Brussels!

(one for the more mature reader)

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OldRidgeback [2847 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes

tee hee - good to see Mr Catermole protecting Portillo

actually Portillo doesn't seem like such a bad cove now since he had his electoral come-uppance

he'd be preferable to most of the current cabinet anyway

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portec [120 posts] 1 week ago
6 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:

tee hee - good to see Mr Catermole protecting Portillo

actually Portillo doesn't seem like such a bad cove now since he had his electoral come-uppance

he'd be preferable to most of the current cabinet anyway

That's Joseph with Portillo (when he falls). Really nice guy and one of the tireless volunteers who donate so much of their time to looking after the Herne Hill track, coaching, etc.

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pockstone [141 posts] 1 week ago
1 like

This has just shot up to No.2 in my all time favourite Portillo clips.

No 1?  https://youtu.be/BVvWE6V9ulE

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Beecho [234 posts] 1 week ago
6 likes

If anyone’s wondering, his footwear is part of Rapha’s new lounge cycling range. MP’s sporting the RCC Red Velvet. £500.

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RobD [549 posts] 1 week ago
4 likes
Beecho wrote:

If anyone’s wondering, his footwear is part of Rapha’s new lounge cycling range. MP’s sporting the RCC Red Velvet. £500.

When it comes to Rapha clothing, it's hard to know what's a joke and what's not...

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OldRidgeback [2847 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
portec wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:

tee hee - good to see Mr Catermole protecting Portillo

actually Portillo doesn't seem like such a bad cove now since he had his electoral come-uppance

he'd be preferable to most of the current cabinet anyway

That's Joseph with Portillo (when he falls). Really nice guy and one of the tireless volunteers who donate so much of their time to looking after the Herne Hill track, coaching, etc.

 

Aha, I don't know Joseph but it's been some time since I was last at Herne Hill. I know some of the other people there. I haven't ridden the track for a while, something i need to change for 2018. But it's become really popular and it isn't as easy to get a ride there as it used to be.

Avatar
Edgeley [520 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:
portec wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:

tee hee - good to see Mr Catermole protecting Portillo

actually Portillo doesn't seem like such a bad cove now since he had his electoral come-uppance

he'd be preferable to most of the current cabinet anyway

That's Joseph with Portillo (when he falls). Really nice guy and one of the tireless volunteers who donate so much of their time to looking after the Herne Hill track, coaching, etc.

 

Aha, I don't know Joseph but it's been some time since I was last at Herne Hill. I know some of the other people there. I haven't ridden the track for a while, something i need to change for 2018. But it's become really popular and it isn't as easy to get a ride there as it used to be.

 

It may become less popular if people think that there is a real danger of bumping into a former minister in inappropriate footwear going very slowly.  

Next week, Lord Lawson in flipflops and Jonathan Aitken in sandals.

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hsam [9 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:

Aha, I don't know Joseph but it's been some time since I was last at Herne Hill. I know some of the other people there. I haven't ridden the track for a while, something i need to change for 2018. But it's become really popular and it isn't as easy to get a ride there as it used to be.

There are around 6 or 7 public sessions (with no rider limit) every week at HHV, probably easier than ever to get a ride, especially if you get your training accreditation.