« Desert Island Discs

Chris Boardman, cyclist

2020-10-25 | 🔗
Chris Boardman is an Olympic cyclist, businessman and the Cycling and Walking Commissioner for Greater Manchester. Both his parents were keen competitive amateur cyclists and they backed Chris as he gradually became interested in the sport as a teenager. He left school at 16, and trained as a carpenter to fund his cycling, and his love of making things has never left him. He met his wife Sally when they were teenagers and she supported him when he took time off work to train and compete. He became a household name in 1992 at the Olympics in Barcelona, as the first British cyclist to win a gold medal in 72 years. He moved on to road racing and wore the yellow jersey in the Tour de France on three occasions. After retiring from racing, he was instrumental in the success of Team GB cycling at subsequent Olympics, with his focus on how improvements could be made in all aspects of design. He also launched his own range of bicycles catering for elite and everyday cyclists, and as Greater Manchester's Cycling and Walking commissioner, he is finding ways to help people leave their cars at home. DISC ONE: Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra DISC TWO: Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) by Baz Luhrmann DISC THREE: Hurt Feelings by Flight of the Conchords DISC FOUR: The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) by Simon and Garfunkel DISC FIVE: Barcelona by Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballé DISC SIX: Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones DISC SEVEN: Embrace Me, You Child by Carly Simon DISC EIGHT: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John BOOK CHOICE: Feersum Endjinn by Iain M. Banks LUXURY ITEM: Butter CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) by Simon and Garfunkel Presenter Lauren Laverne Producer Sarah Taylor
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Previously sounds music, radio broadcasts, hallo unlearn event, and this is the desert island discs podcast every week I ask my guest to choose the eight tracks book and luxury they want to take with them if they were castaway to a desert, island and for rights reasons. The music is shorter than the original broadcast. I hope you enjoy. Listening my castaway this week is olympic cyclist and businessman chris Boardman british cycling is currently booming and he's. Arguably the man who lit the fuse born on the world too keen amateur, cyclist parents. He was still in his teens when he joined the british squad.
And the nickname, the professor for his love of scientific innovation and it became the hallmark of his career. Ninety ninety two, he achieved the seemingly impossible taking home the first british pickled meddling cycling for seventy two years on a revolution. Carbon frame bike, he became the first brit to win the prolonging the who difference two years later, then, you see I absolute our record in the now famous soup my position with his arms stretched doubt to minimize drag. Many more successes, including two most bells in the yellow jersey and two more. Our records followed but hanging is raising shoes didn't mean slowing down. He simply took his research based approach to cycling and applied to the rest of us in two thousand and seven. He launched his own range of bikes and more recently came the cycling and walking commission if greater manchester. He says I just want people to use bicycles to get around, and I can't
what about that and gold medals by a million miles? My definition of success isn't winning. Is the guy using his bike to go to the shocks chris boardman welcome to desert island discs alone, Thank you for joining us now, Chris, there have been very few bright spots during this year's lockdown, but people getting out on their bikes does seem to have been one of them. What changes of using very very where, if using the term papa tuna tea in the midst of a pandemic, when people are dying, but I think would be very foolish not to notice some of the things that happened when we effectively turned off global traffic and I suppose in a sense, we started a world wide consultation, on how we use our roads and we found that when you gave people quiet streets and you could actually here birdsong, we took away the traffic. people want to write bikes and they did die in droves, and we saw an increase across england to think department for transport attracted to over three hundred.
and so united, cycling and walking, commissioner for greater manchester- and that comes with a budget of a hundred and sixty million pounds at your disposal. What changes are you planning to introduce to make cycling more appealing. The she's got nothin to do with cyclists of english is the weird almost perverse bit. This is for people in cars, because it's not people already ride a bike. The maid convincing unique bell to look out the car window and think quite phronsie that, because, if you don't, why would you get out of the car a so called today Do you know what I need safe space on a need to be joined up to where I will go, and so what we did in greater manchester music right will. We need a network fully connected that could be used by competent twelve year old thoughts. Are we defined and tell people imagine what this standard is come in twelve euro and that's what we're delivering and it's gonna take chinese people often site there netherlands as a cyclists Paradise. What have they got going for them, that we haven't? First and foremost, a criminal
on how they use the streets and they have a hierarchy. Were somebody walking has precedence over somebody on a bite has precedence over public transport, has precedence over people driving and everything they do from legislation to the streets gape reflection, and everybody has a duty of care for the more vulnerable road users and its civilized newgate, sixty percent of kids right to school every day, normal on its less than three hundred miles away. For now, let's go to music Chris? This is your first ask what is it and why the chosen this today Well, I was eleven years old when I first heard this one fuckin, seventy seven, because it was the first track. The entreat made made me notice music and it was on one adopt, was wallpaper and at home, and I was also fascinated by the album, copper so said the alleged mr blue sky
no, MR blue sky, so chris Boardman, it's hard to explain: tickets. Now that britain doesn't always excelled at cycling, they used to seeing british cyclists man on women collecting metals at the olympics. In british cyclists have won the two difference. You speak
headed that resurgence, but with quite a few role models at an elite level. Who inspire? Do you rubbish? Now you ve got one go battle, looks like really just one is quite disappointed. We know it does go back to a time when you are qualified to be the national coach of great britain or one of those of the gpa olympic squad, by virtue of being able to taking of time off work. It was just a wholly different era and I was very lucky to meet a guy called peter, came it was some became, my couch. He was a young sport scientists not much older than me at the time and he was fascinated by how things work done term. He suggested way of training we go out and do it pull it apart and wow that didn't work. Why didn't it work at? The next idea was the satisfaction of problem solving, and it was the problem solving aspect of it that fascinated me and turned what could have been quite destructive. Actually, because I was didn't, have a great
time at school. I was puppet bullied and couldn't wait to leave, and I left with quite low self esteem and self confidence, and suddenly I found something that I could do. The other people couldn't unlike gave me that self esteem, but myself worth was wrapped up in results and that's not healthy, safe nuclear bumped into peterkin of change, the focus to be about being better rather than being the best and it became a holy, more productive thing to do. Cycling has, of course, had done more than its share of drug scandals. How confident? Oh you, that its now a clean spoke. While I was right in the middle of it is one of the big losers, like to me retiring thirty, two, he couldn't win at things that should be able to win out until it was quite depressing
but I'm glad to say, and it's taken years and years that cycling is probably one of the cleanest, if not the cleanest endurance sport in the world now, and it had to be completely unpacked to achieve that. But it's going to take many years for the public to completely regain trust. Yes, exactly because you know the funds have to believe that the competition is far ahead of the english real none, and I think that happens. That can only happen with time and you keep getting clean test results, clean test results, and you know that their been tested now more than ever before us. I think all that we can do is wait. Let time pass Let this new trend continue speaking time is pressing down on us, so I think will hear your site and disk. Now, if you don't mind Chris, what's gonna being wisely chosen, it this war from the late nineteenth, actually the period that we were just talking about. It was just
was coming up to retirement and I chose it because I love things that are creative, not just a great sounds but poetry, two words Baz, Luhrmann's, sunscreen song, everybody's free to wear sunscreen, I thought was just ingeniously, clever, don't worry about the future or worry, but know that worrying that is trying to solve algebra equation by chewing bubblegum a real job in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried. Mind the time that blindside you at four p dot m on December idle tuesday do one thing everyday. That scares you sing. be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people restless with yours fashion, ermine and everybody's free to western screen. Chris Boardman,
were born into a cycling family. I think, is it true that your parents met at the cycling club yeah, both my mom and dad road bikes lips, the sport with the siege of riding bikes that brought them together and then it formed out of all of our family life. As my sister LISA, when I grew up every weekend with sir, we get into all the time at various secondhand pan painted minis and things like that, and that in a canoe when a bike strapped to the roof and we'd be crammed into the back, maybe with a cousin or a friend at six o'clock in the morning off to a bike race. But to do that and then we'd be all filed for the day your mom and dad keeping Carolyn how good with a cyclist- and he was the most competitive, though both nationally higher travers.
god was the one that raced and eventually my mum stopped to look after us, because it was just too difficult with kids and trying to juggled start times and things that to my mom gave it up for australia, but she was always the most competitive. My mom catered anything into a race. They must have been dedicated to this bull and to making it accessible to you. While, first and foremost, my parents didn't actually want me to ride a bike race, they wanted me to just use a bike and go out and discover the social side of it and club riding going out to the weekends with friends, which is the process that they'd gone through. But I was just interested in the racing bit and so eventually that kind of begrudgingly. Let me have a go when elisa thirty on a small race just outside of chester, where people would turn up in cut off jeans and football shorts and have a go and ride against the clock mile race. And then we had the
built on a piece of aid for paper that was posted on the lamp post to see where you'd finished. But that was the bit that I was interested in because this time with my time- and I went back the next week and when a bit quicker seed, did your mom's competitive streak. Well, to start with he's just may against me. My name was right down the bottom of that piece of aid for in twenty nine minutes and something which wasn't gonna like any fight: to cover ten miles for the next week and went back into didn't one hundred and thirty two can I have my own marker that was just mine until after a few months I was the fastest schoolboy, and suddenly that was a different thing. I was actually faster than other people, I'm not with nothing. I've experienced until I point because I was arcademic late, physically everything middle of the pack, one of the ones who made up the background in the photograph and now I could just do this little thing. The other people couldn't amount was probably the moment than I was hooked in its time.
sake. What are we going to hear? Next? Chris was actually my wife Sally, who is a big fan of flight of the conchords, and so she infected all of our children. With this a love of the news, Ellen band and their humour that was built in and then phrase started I'm out around the house the day after my birthday is not my birthday it is something that connect is only rarely than this. One is called her feelings: me, a small man with it's my birthday, two thousand three waiting for a call from a family, but forgot about me
the day after my birthday is not my birthday mom, a flight of the concludes. That was her feelings, so Chrissy, remember of quite a few cycling club as a teenager. When did you realize that this was more than a competition with yourself, but that you had readability while it was early on really the term? I was started when some schoolboy stuff and thats what gave me something that was missing in my childhood forget it sounds a bit melodramatic, but a sense of self worth as I was both healthy and potentially destructive, because my to go up and down with the results ma. How well became cycling risen ready a moment when I moved from wanting to another, was just getting better and better and to you look up and realize. Actually I'm now mention the national squad here there was none
Civic moments- and I don't suppose I consider myself good until the olympic games see said you didn't cope, when you didn't, when your self worth was too tied up in winning or losing, how did you rat when things are going badly scan emotionally down about losing its quite hard now, actually to think back to how obsessed- and it was an obsessive behaviour that was being encouraged. If that happens, in sport, obsessive and unhealthy behaviour is called dedicated and so in disguise, I do not recognise for what it is so bad losing weight all just emotional sit down not been able to let go after losing an hour? I had that problem. How long did it take to have come up when I started to work with Peter came in a sense, he wasn't interest
in in me, not a horrible way or the result. He was interesting and improvement if we didn't get the result that we wanted and then we get well what happened and then we'd be talking about it, the performance again and how to be better and it's a much much healthier mindset to have really, because, ultimately it doesn't matter what the stakes are. You can only do that. so you can for now it's time for your fourth disk. Most of my songs are tied to family life, and this was was very early on when I used to work in their peaches furniture emporium it in higher tranmere to sally, and I are in our first house behind the technical college in birkenhead, in which we could afford to heat. One room often used to be ice in the winter, on the insides of the windows, so you can get the violins out ways to wrap edward up office some and put him in his bed, and these two here sally singing this timid and its by signing garfunkel. But in our house it was just called
slow down too fast you got to make them and last just kicking down the cobblestones looking for fun. Groovy, hello. Lamp post will let you know when I come to the fifty ninth street bridge song feeling groovy simon and garfunkel, so Chris Boardman, that takes you back then to your early days as as a cyclist I mean your competitive career began in the days before lottery funding. So how hard was it to combine training with holding down a job, feel young family were assaulted.
Why not holding down a job of is one of the few amity riders so is running. Responsive Cloven got some things paid for weeks, great to get to live and sally worker lab in unilever. That was just about enough for us to. Soon the passion that, while to pursue my passion actually in- and she was good enough to put that prompted centre pair life as well- I mean just made it he became a household name overnight after winning that gold medal at the nineteen. Ninety two barcelona olympics his men's individual track pursue on a specifically designed lotus bike. Now I watched the race back, and things still looks futuristic there years later and it's pretty funky, but I remember at the time I thought that looks pretty cool a real space age thing imagine a wing standing on its edge with a saddle on it, and that was pretty watching. The whole thing was formed that of a single piece of carbon fiber, the wheel, we held only on one side inventor, boroughs. I'd come from the world of model planes so
Taylor though he was a bike. Rider was thinking completely differently. So take me back to the re stay itself. What you remember bite it did you think you would win it was set up as something of a surreal experience. Really. I was at the time until employee talk until with a wife and two kids, and so there be no money. I am tweets lolicon which is Peter came, and I am just getting better and better tell eventually. I was sick, on a bike in motion we stadium in barcelona. Looking at the olympic final and on the left there was a small digital clock, the sailor, the guy was, it was the little cards with numbers painted on the take over the change the law mission. I could hear it counting down the last couple of seconds and then, and there were sixty two million people watching at the time around the world, and I just didn't know how
Can I get my legs to go around and eventually because of a conversation I had with a guy called John cyrus in my quiet psychologist, he was working with the team. I just thought when I can't tell you precisely what a thorpe sought it, I'm just gonna be the best that can be and went across the line. I'll look at the board and see what it's got me. Do you remember the the race itself, no damage then suddenly it's over and I was being pushed for when somebody's putting metal romantic have I felt treated dacres I'd seen people jumping up Down on podiums and in tears, I'd seen that on the tv and it's what other people did and quite fancy that said, festival of thought that doesn't happen to people like me: I'm the unemployed, carpenter people on television do that and then an instant. I was one of the people on the television and I just felt shocked on it. Just didn't think it was quite a long time later before us
Did it is one of those moments? I think that life divides into a before and an after you. Obviously didn't realize that at the time when did you took it, went home, and that was when I stepped outside of the the olympic bubble. Where there's just you and the same people, then you go to the stadium and it's all confined and we got a lift home from the airport and there was a bit of noise at the airport and came back to the village in hoylake where I live, and it was full of people and every shop had a display. In the window and return into our little terrace street, and it was just full of people, and I didn't like it at all, because you can't turn off This is where I live. This is normal. This is where I go to get away from those things, and it's all here now and that was culture shock from, but that evening it went quiet eventually and I stepped out, and I walked down to the end of the road to the dolphin chippy and
the guy you run it ming. There was almost like date, the fountain saying on oceans. Eleven of anybody knows that, and it was just quiet on it. I said I I posted chips, please, and then this quiet he gets the chips, pushes them across the counter and then he holds his hand now talking about. When I do, you need for each of the Doha meeting. You can complain about that lonely one portion for each its while metal one portion the chip very high standards that later overdo it, its timetable. Music, tell us about your next disk. Well, it's not a song that I particularly like a bullet signify that moment, I'm afraid I'm on it is the moment when I went from being unemployed and having no money to big, whether I liked it or not, a household name. It's marked by barcelona by freddy mercury
yeah, and barcelona, freddy mercury and Montserrat kabogi. So Chris board after barcelona. You made the move into professional cycling. Life had changed all of them grueling shed jewels and training. How did it agree with you because gone into this world road racing which I've never done before in China. I just felt like I was
surrounded by complete notice, any guidance, and then I realized it all of these people they're not crashing, and I have to be looking late. I've met that it was skill and I didn't have enough of it: It was quite a baptism of fire really. I was lucky that my physiology and being able to win the time give eggs got me enough, cute us too, to stick with it. Until eventually I could make a breakthrough. Seed found another problem to solve how dedicated where you to your training will continue to make it for a few months, but I was lucky that I've won the yellow jesse in the tour de France a couple more just before that in the opening stage and the nice thing about having yellow jerseys like a passport to the front so What were you gonna marauding palatine in this very lightnings, any twenty places at the front for two hundred people, the one person who doesn't get. Pushed out the way is the one where in the latest, you as you. So I had to this passport to the right better there
pilots on where I could learn to stay there and learn the skills. And what about the kind of psychology of? Is that a psychological battle between right as well as a physical, but I'm not quite sure what percentages I would put on it, but spores particularly cycling, is as much psychological. Geological the physiology you don't even get Pasco without that, but once you ve got nothing not enough in its own right. You need to understand, or the people understand how you press to move out of your way understand how relationships actually matter, because people, like any other walk of life, you lie, people you don't like people than when they are limited amount of space or shelter behind wheels. Then the people you like, the you can try push out the way. So is a very complex ecosystems, The gay men also to be able to survive with the amounts at pressure, the testimonies this is your sixth disk today will be chosen,
This was at a time when we pumped into weird things- and you have experiences like doing things like this- that you don't know normally item. We bumped into a friend. He worked for the rolling stock and so we used to go and see them in concert quite often and so ass to be stones track sympathy. With the dead man. There were long marry, a man was made them feel the rolling stones and sympathy for the devil. So Chris Boardman after a very successful competitive
yeah you made to move into become british cycling, director of research and development, fifteen gb. What kind of details were you looking out till I started off his head of stuff. You actually came from, I used to work for recycling for a few years, and we saw today. quite decent, without a gold gold in in sydney with jason, karelian them, and we went on to athens. I've got some more metal and it was looking quite rosy and they directed the time was a day prospered. We went mad a coffee and in town in manchester he's right or governance. now on the couch and going well in the technical side of it we ve got covered. We got a new sprint coach from germany, about all the other stuff seaboard, Jimmy should put you know all the stuff this wheels in this. This frames and clothing helmets all that stuff. We say we can make any improvements there and I was asked to go in
I could it so I became head of stuff. Okay in that one meeting, which later became the aggregation of marginal gains. I think, after the fact it was a we got a nice title. and it was brilliant, not dedication to granular details to cutting edge ideas, that kind of blue sky thinking unwilling to try stuff. It was becoming accepted, wasn't it and it is obviously been something you a dedicated to for such a long time, but had been viewed as quite eccentric. It must have been very satisfying to see that culture chain Well is a unique experience that very few people have a two hundred and thirty at this is the beauty of lottery funding and that it was about making people go faster and I'm winning gold medals. Not was it so after four years I could spend out of jail about three hundred thousand to start with. I could spend two hundred thousand pound that at the end of and I had to have no commercially viable product. I just had to make people go faster, so we explored, we looked at cloud and we looked all these different bits.
Because we had a wind tunnel, we can measure like a set of scales, wicked way, the difference between things and look at it, and there was me revolutionary. He sat up your own business Making bikes and no law of sporting professionals lend their name to products. I remarked, that you are much more involved in the fight that pay, your name where she started by a man called the outlining the field. Who was a lovely areas, passionate former draft? Listen, he will have a backroom wanted to start company, makes him bicycles and thought can't we do better the mortal there now am. I was kind of the rifle. For me about making things, and so we got together, sold off first back in two thousand and seven and then that's what I think look played its part or what's the term lucky's readiness meets opportunity, so we sold off by the same month. Is the tour de france came to london and then the next year, olympic games and so on? So just cycling, was about to become incredibly visible, is when we started.
Bikes. Your passion for cycling course began with your parents and their love of the sport. No tragically your mom, when she was out on a bike and innuendo. Sixteen she was hit by a driver has since been prosecuted. How did that affect? You must have been devasted and I still haven't really worked out how to deal with it. To be honest- and you just do the worst bit has been watching the dat game and his life partner, and they spent all their time together. I just have to cope. That's been heartbreaking. sam you, I was working on the told him at the time and had to come out on us? eleven worked out how to deal with it among the most wonderful people that you would could ever meet, is involved in public life and tending flower beds and taken young kids out bikes. Just a big part of a community suddenly taken away because somebody was texting himself. He said
justin, desperately sat devastating lost for your family, but it still also have a bearing on your perspective. You cycling, commissioner, to it. Didn't you my course thing. It was just a horrific irony them. What I'm was already on course to do when I was was involved in passionate about, and then my mother goose wrote, a bike more than me was killed whilst doing it To underline the point that this should be something you should be able to do in safety and people should feel conflict we're doing and we'd all benefit. If we did so are the two things linked. Now I don't he started on it, but I think it's. It's obviously pointed out that it happened to me when it anyhow mistake a hundred families year in the uk, and for small music. Why you taken with you to the island, the song as my colleague Simon and I don't think I've ever heard colonies sing it I've only head sally
My wife's sing it around the house too: kids and in fact she contested the stone. But since she was for when it was released, That time line is a little bits. Sceptical but its embrace me John, by colleagues on me, colleague, Simon and embrace me you child, so crisply when twenty twond he's been a very different year to any other, have you learned anything that yourself
under the things I enjoy on value, don't costs money, my kids, my grandkids? Okay, stay for the duration. So we were all locked down together. Well, how many of you rather cosette, like six kids, do grandkids, I'm very lucky that we have some woods where we are, and so we have space for the kids. Basically, we all like dinner every night together for four months, and I loved it It is a terrible time. Would one wishes on anybody, but I'm also grasped the things I took from it and I have a really since it with my grandkids. Now that I didn't have- and I am very thankful for that- We ve been volunteer and local bike shop as well people without on road box, on board bikes in their droves and, of course, We found that lot of key workers. The shifts meant that now bosses trains that were running lotion? this, and sometimes they stopped very early, couldn't get to work, and so they needed help
repaired and on board bikes to just travel to those essential jobs and the local bike shops weren't. Keeping with demands I just couldn't still aren't. Actually so I went on a day to day in a week to just go and build bikes, which in turn gave me something constructive to do so? So you literally in the workshop yeah when built bikes, very satisfying, unethical There are people on the where all right in random bikes that you fixed up with no idea that hope those are the ones that didn't for sportsmen mba was responsible, will be a couple, a very different kind of situation of about two cast: you away into the solitary eggs on your island how'd. You think you'll cope absolutely great I really enjoy company, but I also leading being on my, so I think I'll be fine, we're lucky for you We're ready to send you to want one more disk before we do, though, what your final disk gonna be today,
I think this one's really about what is figuratively image about following a passage something we could be talking about. The term money and riches and glory it doesn't make you happy I think not having money can make you unhappy, but having heard the trappings of wealth and stuff doesn't make you happy that's what this is all about read it. I am glad that this particular past as a circular, yellow, brick road. the
elton John and goodbye, yellow, brick road, so Chris board, It's time to cast you away. I will of course give you, the bible and the complete works if shakespeare to read while you're on your island and it can take another book of your choosing tee. What would you like well I discovered reading ready when I turned professional. The quite late in in life, because a high pressure job I just wanted a way to escape without physically moving, and so I started to read to quite a suppose: you'd call it highbrow sci fi, something that was absolutely nothing to do with. Where I am now and one of the writers I discovered
I'm just readable now was an m banks and the book that I'm reading was called fearsome engine than its written entirely fanatically you're. It from the point of view of an ant shaw. Take back You can also have a luxury item. What would you like to treat yourself tee? Well, without a doubt, it's got to be butter or butter, I'm going to grow some corn or I might catch a lobster. There is nothing that butter does not make better. It's all about the fate until about the food, okay, well, the oath and finally, which of these eight tracks. Would you rush to save if the waves were threatening to wash your collection away? that is a difficult one. I think you're probably go right back to em simon garfunkel Chris boardman. Thank you so much for sharing your desert island discs with us. Thank you.
Hello, ivory hope you enjoyed my conversation with chris Boardman and I do hope. Peace found somewhere cool to store is butter. We ve cost many olympic. Athletes away over the years they include deemed, when granger steve red grave and fellows like lists, a broadly weakens. It can hear that programmes if you said three BBC sands next time my guest will be hilary mc grady director general of the national trust. I do hope you join us, the before you go on miles the producer of a brand new podcast for radio for called tricky. This is how it works
more people from across the uk me up and without a priest. breathing down their necks talk about issues they really care about is quite complicated for long political and it's ok to be against it not to shame someone is of their profession, across the cities will hear anger shock and even the odd laugh another thing really gets to meet when people say, I know what we need to do. I know what life you shut up, like that's the thing, that's not how it works, but it will be the nose if you knew you would have done it discover more conversations like thus by searching tricky on bbc signs.
Transcript generated on 2022-06-06.