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Tour de France inspires Leeds granddad to revive speed cycle 30 years on

Dennis Giles with his rebuilt 1980s streamlined canopy bike. Picture by Tony Johnson

Dennis Giles with his rebuilt 1980s streamlined canopy bike. Picture by Tony Johnson

  • by Jonathan Brown
 

A long-held love for cycling combined with the visit of the sport’s greatest spectacle has given one Horsforth granddad the desire to relive his two-wheeled past.

Inspired by the Tour de France’s visit to Yorkshire, retired printer Dennis Giles has revived a super-streamlined racing bike he built that claimed victory at a human-powered speed challenge competition in 1985.

The 75-year-old cycling fan has restored the classic Leeds-built Woodrup racing bike that was the base the for racer, and built a brand new canopy to mark the arrival of Le Tour on July 5 and 6.

Dennis, who usually watches the annual Tour de France on TV, was bought a Le Tour Yorkshire yellow jersey and tickets for the Team Presentation opening ceremony at Leeds First Direct Arena for his 75th birthday.

The grandfather-of-five told the YEP: “The Tour de France inspired me.

“I read a lot about it and I thought my old yellow bike is the colour of the Tour and I had some of the parts and built it back up again.

“I never would have imagined the Grand Depart would come to Leeds, it’s fantastic. I don’t think it will ever happen again.”

The bike, which has been used as an exercise bike in recent years by Dennis was full of rust and had one rotten tyre when he began restoring it.

With natural ability on the bike, Dennis spent his late teens as a racing cyclist until he was called up for National Service in the late 1950s. On his return to Leeds, his sporting past became a distant memory before he joined a cycling club with his 15-year-old son in 1980.

The pair entered a speed trial competition in Brighton, sparking a seven-year love affair with building special super-streamlined time trial bicycles.

Dennis’ brother’s stepson Mark Robinson, who was 16 at the time, rode the bike to victory in two races at a Milton Keynes human-powered speed challenge 29 years ago.

Dennis, who hopes the bike might go on display, plans to watch the stage one Leeds to Harrogate leg of Le Tour as it passes through Harewood on July 5.

“It’s come a long has cycling, it’s great. I’ve seen a lot of cycling shops open lately but the bikes are a lot more expensive than what I had to pay – you’re talking thousands now,” he said.

“Hopefully my bike might inspire somebody to do something similar.”

 

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