When most people retire, they often take a few months to relax, perhaps book a couple of holidays and maybe rent an allotment.
Since retiring as a professional athlete, Sir Chris Hoy has created a successful bike brand, launched HOY Vulpine clothing, won his first Le Mans series motorsport race, and he’s now working with Evans Cycles and British Cycling to get 2 million more children on bikes. He’s also become a father, and he’s got a book coming out in a year, too.
We met Sir Chris at the National Cycling Centre, in Manchester, as he announced a partnership with British Cycling and Evans Cycles, which will see 1,500 HOY bikes provided to the scheme’s Go-Ride sessions.
With such a male bias in the cycling world, these sessions, which catch children in the cycling net before the age they begin to contemplate the idea of there being ‘boy’s sports’ and ‘girl’s sports’, are important in building up confidence and activity in young women.
Sir Chris is all about equality in the sessions his HOY bikes will be enabling – he told us:
Go-Ride gets kids active at a young age, and it shows that cycling is not a boy’s only activity or a girl’s only activity.
“Whether you’re bigger, or smaller than your classmates, whether you’re a boy or a girl – cycling is for everybody. You don’t have to be a certain type of child to take part.”
New father Sir Chris called cycling a ‘rite of passage’ for every child, and said the birth of his son makes the partnership even more personally exciting – explaining: “Seeing Callum growing and getting bigger, I’m already thinking about him on two wheels – it’s just dead exciting to think that [thanks to the partnership] these opportunities are out there for kids all over the country who maybe wouldn’t have had a chance to get involved.
“Basically we’re going out to them, we’re seeking them out and creating potentially two million opportunities for kids to ride bikes which is amazing when you think about it.”
Sir Chris himself started out on a cheap second hand bike, that he broke pretty promptly. He understands not all kids have shiny expensive bikes – but big ambition can overcome a lack of tools – as Chris children’s books, based on ‘Flying Fergus’, will demonstrate.
The books are expected to arrive in March 2016, and Sir Chris said: “The character has a brilliant imagination. He doesn’t have fancy kit or a fancy bike, so he has to use his imagination. He wants to be a champion cyclist but never thinks he will. In many ways I suppose he is a bit like me.”
I never did think I was going to become an Olympic champion.
With 60 per cent of GB’s Rio Olympic cyclists having started in their careers riding their bikes under Go-Ride banners, Sir Chris told us: “It’s amazing to know you could be looking at a future world or Olympic champion riding one of my bikes.”