‘You have to be cycling 80 years to be this good’

Ben Broom, 80, of Elmham Road, Cantley, who rode 80 miles on his 80th birthday.
Ben Broom, 80, of Elmham Road, Cantley, who rode 80 miles on his 80th birthday.

MANY 80th birthday celebrations might mean slippers and a glass of sherry, but Ben Broom had much more energetic ambitions.

The Cantley grandfather decided that he wanted to ride a mile for every year of his life and fellow Doncaster Cyclist Touring Club members decided to join him.

Leading the way at 9am, Ben set out on his 80-mile route taking in South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire on his beloved red Holdsworth touring bike on Sunday.

Due to a slight miscalculation on Ben’s part, the group of cyclists actually completed about 94 miles - which they didn’t realise until the end of the day.

“It was a marvellous day out. I was really glad of the company of all those club members who came out to join me,” said Ben, of Elmham Road.

“We weren’t rushing anywhere and the weather was kind to us. We stopped off at some lovely pubs on the way and I really enjoyed it.”

Sporting a T-shirt declaring “You have to be cycling 80 years to be this good”, Ben’s birthday tour took in Bawtry, Clayworth and North Wheatley with a lunch stop in Cottam.

They continued over the River Trent and it was in Springthorpe that Ben pulled out a huge flask of coffee and ham sandwiches to share with his fellow club members.

Dad-of-two Ben said: “The bike is the best thing ever invented. It’s the most economical form of transport and I love being able to get out and about in the countryside.

“I especially like really quiet country lanes. I’ve been a member of the Doncaster CTC for more than 50 years. I try to get out with them at least one Sunday in three.”

It was a bit of a surprise to everyone but Ben when they returned to Cantley at about 7pm and someone’s cycle computer showed they’d actually completed 93.7 miles.

Ben admitted that he isn’t very good with technology so had underestimated quite how far the route was - though he had actually realised earlier in the day but decided they should complete the full distance anyway.

Speaking about future birthday plans, Ben - who ran his own business making canvas canopies for narrowboats until he was 73 - added: “I think there might be a time when I need to start lessening the mileage as I’m not sure I’ll always be able to keep it at the same number as my age!”

He has no plans to slow down just yet and is already planning more rides over the next month.

For his birthday today, Ben and his wife Betty, 79, are planning to enjoy a special meal with family.