“Energy gels; piffle” remarks Lawrence, in his heyday a competitive road racer. In one quip he humorously disregarded decades of scientific research – in favour of his preferred choice; a brace of Mars bars and a pint of milk. Sustenance, which he’d have to go to great lengths to avoid melting or curdling whilst cycling in the summer. I thought it best to avoid mentioning the latest in moisture wicking garments available – my exuberance sure to be given short shrift.
With only a few ailments and mild arthritis the lack of vacuum packed glucose, as copiously consumed by cyclists and alike these days, didn’t do the spritely 91 year old any harm – he’s a marvel. Despite his age Lawrence, adorned with flat cap; cycle clips and shoulder bag, still cycles about his home town of Harlow – even throughout the winter months. It’s likely what keeps him so young at heart. With cycling being such a major part of his life without it life would be somewhat lacking.
What is remarkable is the fact that he’s still riding the same bicycle he purchased from frame builder Thomas Quick (TJQ of London) in 1952. I say remarkable not due to the longevity of ownership; a noteworthy 63 years – instead the fact it’s fixed gear. “Fixie” has become a fashionable term, amongst urban cyclists, when describing a mechanism of pedal power which stems from the infancy of cycling.
However, despite more suitable multi-geared freewheeling (dare I say electrically assisted) bicycles available, he’s stayed loyal to his hobbie's roots.
The decals that once adorned his bespoke TJQ frame have long since worn away. Only to be replaced with self-adhesive letters from a hardware store. As far Lawrence is concerned trends will and can come and go. Yet his bicycle, love of cycling and in-depth knowledge of the sport at large will remain.
Oh yeah; it’s the same saddle.