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“If we don’t do it now, when can we do it?”

Six times Olympic gold medal winner Sir Chris Hoy has said he would love the job of cycling champion. But first someone has to persuade the government to actually create the post.

Creating the role of cycling champion was one of the recommendations of the Get Britain Cycling report. However, the government has yet to commit to implementing this recommendation or indeed most of the other items contained in the report.

In an interview with The Times, Sir Chris said he was evangelical about cycling and while he had no interest in a career in politics he would make an exception for a job involving promoting cycling, increasing people's enjoyment in the sport, and building cycling infrastructure.

“Cycling has given me so much,” he said. “I have had such an amazing experience in my life and I want to give a little back and see other people enjoying that too and to see our country become like other ones where cycling is just part of the culture.

“Becoming a politician has never appealed to me — not interested in going on to an international Olympic committee. But for something like this, where you can imagine the kind of legacy, where you can see in 15 to 20 years’ time a complete culture change, that would be a massive thing to be involved in. It does appeal to me.”

If not now, when?

Despite the government's refusal to accept the need for the post of cycling champion  Sir Chris said that this was the best imaginable time to capitalise on Britain’s recent cycling success.

“If we don’t do it now, when can we do it?” he said. “We are at the peak of our attention from the general public. If we don’t do it now people just settle into it and think, ‘Well, this is the way it’s always been, we are different from the rest of Europe and that’s just the way it is’. We do have to strike now.

“I would love to see more people on bikes. I am not saying it as a Jamie Oliver crusade — one person trying to change things in a massive way — but if I can help out in making it more easy, more appealing, more popular. I am a bit evangelical about it, but I genuinely believe that cycling can change people’s lives for the better.”

What he become the U.K.'s cycling czar if asked? “In theory I would love to do it. But it’s a massive commitment. You would have to eat, sleep and breathe it.

“Imagine in ten to 20 years’ time, bikes everywhere, and the immense sense of pride that what you have committed your life to since you were a wee boy is becoming popular and people are understanding it and enjoying it.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

14 comments

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graham_f [185 posts] 2 years ago
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Great to see Hoy keen to be involved in promoting cycling for all, but IMO anyone else who wants the job needs to form an orderly queue behind Chris Boardman

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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My issue is that it would be too easy for the idiots to say "Well, if people want to ride bikes they should stick to the velodrome, like Chris Hoy did".

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Bikebikebike [208 posts] 2 years ago
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I've not heard Chris Hoy speak about cycling. I'd be surprised if he spoke about it better than Chris Boardman, who also would get my vote for the champion position.

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wildoo [34 posts] 2 years ago
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If he is serious he could offer his services to David Cameron for free to be a cycling csar. I guess though he will be looking for a 250K salary to tell us what we already know.

Its strange how retired cyclists suddenly become experts on all things cycling! Going faster round a track than anyone else for 15 odd years is admirable but not exactly the experience that is required for a job such as this.

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 2 years ago
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As much as I love Hoy, he's not got a clue, in my eyes, neither has Boardman.

We need a "normal" every day cyclist, who knows all the issues and has idea's on how to fix them.

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JonD [397 posts] 2 years ago
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Bikebikebike wrote:

I've not heard Chris Hoy speak about cycling. I'd be surprised if he spoke about it better than Chris Boardman, who also would get my vote for the champion position.

He certainly has in the past, but IIRC more in the context of interviews:

http://www.bikeradar.com/road/news/article/video-sir-chris-hoy-on-uk-cyc...

http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2013/jun/22/britains-best-bike-rides-c...

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Matt eaton [742 posts] 2 years ago
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We probably need to be clear on what appointing a cycling champion is trying to achieve. If its the promotion of cycle sport than Hoy's your man. He's been involved in multiple cycling disiplines and has had a very sucessful career. If its about everyday 'utility cycling' then there must be better candidates out there, albeit probably not household names.

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joemmo [1164 posts] 2 years ago
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Gkam84 wrote:

As much as I love Hoy, he's not got a clue, in my eyes, neither has Boardman.

We need a "normal" every day cyclist, who knows all the issues and has idea's on how to fix them.

Or someone who is intelligent enough to learn what they don't know and act on it and while you might not like it, it's vital that they are media savvy, well known and generally well respected. Besides, how do you know he doesn't know 'the issues'?

Now I'd quite like Jon Snow to do it but I think he's still busy doing the news so I see no reason why Hoy couldn't do the job.

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atlaz [180 posts] 2 years ago
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As much as I love Hoy, he's not got a clue, in my eyes, neither has Boardman.

We need a "normal" every day cyclist, who knows all the issues and has idea's on how to fix them.

I think Boardman is very eloquent when talking about issues facing "normal" cyclists as he very much is one these days. In an interview with the BBC that's on YouTube he basically said the helmet debate was a red-herring and said that design of roads was the main issue that could fix things. That, at least, is the only mainstream cyclist who's not fallen into "compulsory helmet" trap in the media.

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mattsccm [330 posts] 2 years ago
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Hoy would make a better bet than Boardman. The latter is out of the publics mind in many respects whereas Hoy has a high profile.
Who ever does the job it needs to be someone with a high public profile. Laura Trott would be good. Get the ladies onside there. The very idea of some one with no public face seems to be a bit pointless.
Anyway who is this person representing? Does sport need more promotion? I think its getting bus on seats that is important.

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a_to_the_j [118 posts] 2 years ago
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we dont need a cycling champion to show the government and non-cyclists what we already know (better cycle paths, roads, lighting, road surface, commuter byways, educating drivers, protecting dangerous junctions, etc etc) what we need is more
M O N E Y

and also more

ACCOUNTABILITY
on how its spent....
forget spending 12million on lovely signs to get us onto "quiet" back roads while we are on holiday and metal hoops outside libraries in town centers you cant ride too, and stupid videos about sharing the road...

give us proper facilities to ride bikes every single day to places we need/want to go to. shopping centers, town centers, Work, secured and even sheltered lockups.
and finally
get some kind of consultation process on how councils spend their "cycle" money to the actually public before giving us a nice tarmac cycle way that starts nowhere and end nowhere.

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joemmo [1164 posts] 2 years ago
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mattsccm wrote:

Anyway who is this person representing? Does sport need more promotion? I think its getting bus on seats that is important.

they shouldn't be representing cycle sport, they should be representing cycle transport. Big difference

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Fixie Girl [125 posts] 2 years ago
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wildoo wrote:

If he is serious he could offer his services to David Cameron for free to be a cycling csar. I guess though he will be looking for a 250K salary to tell us what we already know.

Its strange how retired cyclists suddenly become experts on all things cycling! Going faster round a track than anyone else for 15 odd years is admirable but not exactly the experience that is required for a job such as this.

This guy is offering his services and you Brits just shoot him down for even trying!

I guess selling cheap Chinese knock offs puts you in a better position to champion British Cycling?

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Leviathan [1889 posts] 2 years ago
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Well Hoy and Boardman both have bikes to flog. Being Bike Champion/Czar will keep either of their brands spinning the money. Having said that Boardman speaks nothing but sense, if he 'hasn't got a clue' then no one does.