A Family Connection
Updated: Sep 7, 2018
Colnago And Maestro
My earliest and most vibrant memories seem to evolve around bike racing. From riders sitting down to have breakfast at the family table before a training ride (eating all of the cereal) to pushing my brothers bike to the start of Het Volk. They say all roads lead to Rome, well for me it is all roads lead back to Cycling.
It was as if those early memories were slowly guiding me to get on a bike and race.The day it happened I told my Dad I wanted to quit Cricket and be a bike rider, lets say it didn't go as I had planned. An argument of epic proportions, for anyone who has met Mike you will easily imagine this. 'It's too hard' he kept repeating as we sat at the same table that had hosted Maestro Riders 10 years previous. I was in tears pleading my case. If it was too hard I had to find out for myself, and so it began. I am sure he tried to put me off in those first few years, dragging me out of bed at 4am to go motor pacing before school or driving me out to the South Downs to do hill repeats in the rain, yet I persevered.
My first trips to Belgium were a mirage of loud smoke filled Belgian bars and the ever present smell of embrocation which even to this day instantly takes me back. I hated racing in West Flanders, the home of my brother Nigel. He had become a superstar in the area so I dreaded anybody making the connection on my License 'AHHH Nigel Perrys brother, watch him!'. Belgium would become my home too, each year from January until October I would be there trying to make it as a professional. My Dad was right, it was a hard life but what a life it was! Maybe it was the case of rose tinted glasses but I look back on those years and they really were the best of my life.
After 6 years I had to make a decision. My career had been average at best with some minor placing in the 'mini classic' inter-club races with a Belgian amateur team and a couple of seasons with UCI Continental teams in the UK. In the end I decided to hang my wheels up. It was a heart breaking divorce for me and I barely looked at a bike for a good few years. Instead I tried something totally different and opened a Cafe Wine Bar in the heart of Chichester. Cafes as we all know are a hub for cyclists and on more than one occasion I would shyly admit to having raced myself, it seemed a different life and was hard to make the connection at the time. It wouldn't be too long before I was dragged out for a training ride by a regular of mine, John McFaul. We spent hours talking of the good old days including Mapei and Vandenbroucke and at this moment the seed had been planted again.
It was a somewhat daunting experience returning to cycling. Six years had passed since my last race and from what I could see on TV and in magazines it all looked far too different from the bikes and the clothes to all of the riders.
For all of these differences there is one constant and that is being out on the road I felt at home, at peace although admittedly at a far slower pace!
I have been lucky enough to race on various Colnago models over the years and they always feel like and old friend, you know them and they know you. My new C64 was no different and has every sensation I could remember and more. It is truely incredible how Ernesto can still develop these frames, and just when you think he has made a perfect frame, he raises the bar again.
Colnago has always been a constant thread in our family, weaving together so many of these memories and more over the years. It was a Colnago Tecnos I had pushed to the start of Het volk as a wide eyed 8 year old, and it is a Colnago that I push out of the front door today.