A visit to my old school

I was recently invited to my old school – Bradford Grammar School – to give a lecture on economics.

Mike Simpson (my former politics teacher) looking as young as ever, and me (with quite a bit less hair than last time I was there)

It was very interesting to return after a gap of one quarter of a century. (And it feels wonderful when you can start counting your life in decades rather than years.) In terms of my all round education, I have to say the school was probably as good as it gets, and am grateful for my time there, even if I don’t think about it too much these days. It was a formative time in my life, especially the sixth form where my outlook on life began to mature, change and develop.

I think my lecture on the economics of austerity was well received, in that I just about managed to keep the students awake and stave off any pre-lunch rebellion. As part of my invitation and introduction, the school had dug into its archive of old cross country races to find the results of a certain young Mr Pettinger. They proudly pointed out I used to beat a certain boy (now the Deputy Head) before the tables were turned and he started beating me. After that date I disappeared from the archive results, never to return.

I found that amusing because I remember that race very well – a defining moment in my sporting life because I actually came dead last and vowed never to do competitive sport again. I reasoned if you come last and got beaten by the likes of Mr Darcy (now deputy head), you obviously don’t have the genes for competitive sport. I slinked away from running through muddy fields and put my trainers in the cupboard. Continue reading “A visit to my old school”

Matlock hills

Fate keeps taking me back to Matlock.

Aged 17, I took part in a school cricket tour based in Matlock. We drank a lot of beer and played a little bit of cricket. I wasn’t very good at playing cricket or drinking beer, so I never went on another cricket tour.


A few years later – after joining the Sri Chinmoy Centre, we had a joy weekend at a youth hostel on Bank Road (and met in the church on the left). Bank Road is a very steep hill and I thought what a great steep hill to cycle up. The funny thing is I took my bike to Matlock, but left my pedals in Oxford – so my thoughts of cycling never got further than that. It made a change from forgetting my front wheel (which I had a habit of doing at that time). Still, I had a good time on the weekend with a bit of meditation and walking in the environment of Matlock.

In 2008, the National hill climb championship was on Bank Road. I hadn’t done much cycling that year, but thought I would give it a go. I finished 14th, which was quite good. I was definitely better at cycling up steep hills than playing cricket or drinking beer. Though I still preferred longer ones to the short steep Bank Road. Continue reading “Matlock hills”

12 hours of cycling


Last weekend I rode my first 12 hour time trial championship. It was the National TT championships. I finished in 2nd place.

This is photo by Vilas, who helped me through the day, passing bottles e.t.c.

It is a different challenge to ride a 12 hour race, compared to short five minute hill climb. You can’t compare. One thing I like about 12 hour time trial is that it is a different kind of self-transcendence where you are riding an unknown distance. The most successful part of the day was when I was able to relax, get into a good rhythm and the feel the ‘flow’ of constant cycling.

Sri Chinmoy once said cycling reminds us of evolution – the constant movement to seek progress and transcendence and move into a better cycle. I like that metaphor.

“While we are cycling, we are reminding ourselves of evolution, of how the world is evolving in cycles. When we think of our planet, we think of a wheel turning; our life also is evolving like a wheel. So cycling reminds us of the process of evolution and of how everything goes in cycles.”


A good doping story – Mustafa Mohamed

Two undercover journalists offered an Olympic hopeful athlete access to an elite training camp, where 15-20% of the camp profit would go to the company and that a doctor would be arranged to provide doping products. (1)

Mustafa_Mohamed The athlete, Mustafa Mohamed immediately said he was not interested, that he had never doped, and would never get involved in anything of that nature. He declined their offer to sleep on it. He told them he ran “for passion, not for money or fame”.

Mustafa Mohamed is a Somali-Swedish long-distance runner who mainly competes in the 3000 meter steeplechase.

If journalists can help bring real dopers to justice they are doing a favour to the sport. Journalists like David Walsh from the Sunday Times, did a good job in constant questioning of people like Lance Armstrong and trying to uncover the truth.

However, one thing about doping in the media is that it is nearly always the dopers who make the headlines. The people most quoted on the subject of doping are usually the doctors / athletes involved; and they can have a vested interest in trying to allege doping is widespread and ‘everyone is at’ – A form of justification for their own doping. Continue reading “A good doping story – Mustafa Mohamed”

The benefits of being thin

I was re-reading A Corinthian Endeavour. It’s a curious mix of cycling champions – including some well known British cyclists like Chris Boardman, Malcolm Elliot and Darryl Webster, and then a tall thin chap who claims to eat a lot of cake.

When I was young, there was a time when I wanted to put on weight and become a rugby player. I was never successful in putting on weight, nor did I make it playing rugby. But, taking up cycling aged 27, made me realise being thin and low weight wasn’t so bad after all.


I’ve already reviewed the book at Cycling Uphill – A Corinthian Endeavour and there are some quotes from the book at: Sri Chinmoy Races Continue reading “The benefits of being thin”

The racing season

The racing season starts in February / March. On Friday, I did third race of the season – Buxton Mountain Time Trial.

Photo from Buxton Mountain Time Trial. You can only really appreciate the scenery after the race. But, racing does take you to different parts of the country, you never otherwise would visit.

I do most of my training on my own. It’s partly convenience of finding someone willing to go out at similar times and similar training efforts. But, also I quite like the solitary nature of cycling on my own. With all the solitary training, I like the racing season as it is good to meet others. The good thing about time trials is that everyone is doing their own race, so you don’t feel particularly competitive, but you can concentrate on doing your own race and own efforts of self-transcendence.

A great photo by Tony Wood. But, it shows me that my arm warmers were not quite put on in the right direction. At the time of the race, you want to get everything done quickly, but when viewing photos you wish you had taken more time to make it look right.

One of the challenges of racing is being organised – remembering every bit of clothing and bike equipment. Then you need to get ready and have everything organised at the right time. I’m often scrambling around the back of the car making last minute changes, finding a new pair of gloves, changing equipment. Continue reading “The racing season”

Coverage from 2013 hill climb

This is an article October 2013, from Cycling Weekly, after winning the National Hill Climb Championship.

Prior to 2013, my best placed finish was 4th. In 2011, I had been one of favourites, but only finished 5th.  2013 was the ninth time I had entered the national hill climb championship; I guess it made a good story -ninth time lucky. At 36, I was also probably one of oldest people to win the championship too.

tejvan-takes-it-to-higher-plane-cycling-weekly-oct-31-2013 Continue reading “Coverage from 2013 hill climb”

Clip from British Time Trial Championship 2015

In 2015, I entered the British Time Trial Championship. It was really expensive and awkward to enter.

Usually I do time trials governed by Cycling Time Trials, a UK body. But, this race came under UCI rules – the International cycling body have strict rules about size and shape of bike parts.

I had to spend £400 on a UCI fork and UCI compliant aerobars, to make my bike “UCI legal” Continue reading “Clip from British Time Trial Championship 2015”

Doping and cycling

I started watching professional cycling in the mid 1990s. One of my earliest memories was watching Bjarne Riis accelerating up a mountain  to defeat the five times winner Miguel Indurain. I didn’t know at the time, but Riis was doping on an industrial scale. His amazing speed was almost entirely due to the huge quantities of EPO in his system.


To later learn that the sport was essentially corrupt and full of doping was hard. The joy of sport diminished, and the result irrelevant.

In 2005, the journalist David Walsh was asked who do you want to win the Tour de France? He replied “I don’t mind. Anyone who is clean”. I agree with that sentiment 100%.

Continue reading “Doping and cycling”