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Former Top Gear host James May expresses love for bicycles

Motoring journalist admits his colleagues don't like bikes and that he hasn't been without one since he was three...

James May, host of pro-driving and often anti-cycling television programmes, has written about his life-long love for cycling on motoring website Drivetribe.

May has been outspoken about cycling issues and the need to end, what he called, "road sectarianism" in the past.

>Read more: James May hits out at "complete bollocks" bike lanes

In this piece May writes that "riding a bike feels good," announces that he's recently started cycling again, and also recounts the story of when he learned to ride at the age of three.

"Some time around the age of three-and-a-bit, my dad whipped the stabilisers off my Raleigh Mayflower, gave me a short shove, and off I went." May writes. "I could ride a bike, and I’ve been able to do it ever since, because it’s a bit like riding a bike."

The 54-year old also picked out the health benefits of cycling for leisure. "I’ve been doing a fair bit of recreational cycling lately, simply because I’m feeling old and I’ve got a bad back,” writes May. “It’s knackering but, after all this time, not difficult."

In the piece May also pays particular attention to denouncing popular culture's abandonment of mechanical maintenance.

"How has the technical literacy of our society evolved to the point where this global and interactive digital edifice can exist but no-one can make the few simple adjustments necessary to make a bicycle derailleur shift correctly?" May laments.

Given May's history of speaking positively about cycling, this admission does not come as a complete surprise, though the depth with which he talks about the benefits to health and society that cycling can have does. Especially on a website which is home to the writings of his fellow Grand Tour and former Top Gear presenters Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson.

>Read more: Top Gear on cycling... what did you expect?

May doesn't spare mention of his "colleagues" in the opinion piece, though. When he mentions Hammond and Clarkson it's to announce that his love for cycling is one differentiating factor between himself and the pair.

"I like a bicycle, and I differ from my colleagues on this one." May writes.

Here at we thought that affirmation strange. While Clarkson has masterminded bizarre episodes of Top Gear that have followed particularly anti-cycling narratives, he was also pictured leaving his house aboard a bicycle after being sacked by the BBC.

Richard Hammond has also expressed that he likes cycling, even going as far as admitting to the BBC that he prefers cycling around town to driving.

Whether any of the Top Gear alumni actually dislike cycling or whether they're simply pulling the party line in order to maintain credibility amongst their motorhead audience is neither here nor there.

May's final point is interesting. The motor journalist indicates that he thinks the bicycle is the first step on the mobility ladder that leads, eventually, to Lamborghinis and the like.

“Your bicycle is a great liberator, first base in a lust for mobility that leads all the way to the Lamborghini Aventador. If you’re going to do it, do it properly. You’re wasting your breath.”


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