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A Hero Returns


About 25 years ago I was just "getting into" proper cycling; a bike was slowly morphing from a toy, through merely a mode of transport and finally into a machine to have fun on and explore the world. I was learning to mend and replace bike parts, just starting to enter the murky world of "specialist clothing" and hanging around bike shops being an annoying teenager. I absorbed and learned from snippets of the Tour De France that were sneaking onto the television and then "The High Life" appeared on the goggle-box; a Granada TV documentary about Scottish cycling pro Robert Millar, a sporting champion unsung and unrecognised by a British public that were hugely ignorant of cycling, despite him bagging several stages and winning the King Of The Mountains jersey, achievements that would have him front-page news these days. Here was a man who was small, weedy, thin, not particularly handsome, grumpy, quite the loner and could do wonderful things on a bike. I could identify with all of those attributes and I could work on the "wonderful things on a bike" bit. I had my first hero. Two images from "The High Life" have stuck indelibly in my mind; the camera car trying to follow Millar as he shot down an alpine descent, greasing his way between on-coming cars and cliffs as he pulled away to finally disappear from shot around a bend, and him sitting in the back of the team car at the end of a stage peeling his team jersey off walnut-brown arms to reveal a torso of Scottish-White skin beneath. I was totally hooked. A spark had been lit. This would be the sport for me. I only saw it the once, if it was repeated I never caught it, the programme came out on video but is almost impossible to track down, and there are mere gobbets available on the web. So it is with a giddy heart that I find out that "The High Life" is finally available on DVD (apologies if this is old news to some), I do hope the damp mists of time have been kind to it and not let the memories sadly rust a bit. Where's my credit-card?

Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.

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