Experienced Melton athlete Mick Stevens has delivered undeniable proof that age is no barrier to sporting success after becoming a national cycling champion.
Mick turns 70 next year, but insists there is plenty more in the tank after winning the 65 to 70 years age group title at the National 50-mile Time Trial Championships.
The race was held on a familiar out-and-back course over a 25-mile section of the A46, from Seagrave to Farndon roundabout.
Despite a tough return leg, the Melton Olympic Cycling Club rider stopped the clock in an impressive time of 2hr 06min 59secs – at an average speed of more than 23mph – but had no idea he was in line for a title.
“I didn’t know I’d won anything until I was standing in the race headquarters looking at the board and someone said, ‘Mick I think you’ve won your race’.
“I didn’t even realise there were prizes for my age group so I was really chuffed.
“Going out it was really fast and I did 56 minutes for the first section, but as soon as I turned to come back it was nearly all uphill and into a strong headwind. Even the top riders were saying how hard it was coming back.
“I knew I’d done a good ride for my age group, but I’d done 2.06 earlier in the year, on a more sporting course, so was expecting to go quicker.”
It is not the first time the Melton painter and decorator has been crowned a national age group champion, having ran and cycled his way to three duathlon titles in the 1990s.
He started running in his thirties with his brother and they quickly showed a natural aptitude for long-distance endurance events.
Mick became one of the founding members of the Stilton Striders, and still holds their marathon record of 2hr 28min 16secs, set back in 1987.
“We did our first 20-milers four months after joining the Striders and did some good times,” he added.
“We did London (Marathon) quite a few times together, always trying to break the 2hr 30 barrier. Unfortunately for my brother I did 2.28 and he did 2.32.”
Having started cycling during his duathlon days, Mick only returned to two wheels seriously last year after a knee injury persuaded him to finally put away the running shoes.
“I ended up injured again after the Stathern Duathlon so thought it was time to give up the running and went back to cycling,” he said.
“Last year I did the club time trials with Melton Olympic, and I went into open events this year.
“I hadn’t done any of those since 2008 so I’ve done a lot better than I expected, and I think there’s more to come.”