Meet The GCN Presenters Bike

(rumbling) (birds calling) – I’m Chris Opie, I’m 31 and I grew up on a dairy farm just outside of Truro in Cornwall. Down there, just along that valley, that’s where I started the second chapter of my life just over eight months ago but you probably don’t know a lot about what I did before, so this is my meet the presenter video to tell you how I got here. But as beautiful as this is, I just don’t feel it’s the right place for me to tell you my life story, so let’s jump in my van and go and find somewhere that represents me a little bit better. (upbeat music)


To be honest I can’t wait to get in here because I’m absolutely frozen stood outside. (upbeat music) (laughing) I made it worse. Oh for goodness sake. (laughing) Oh well, proud to be Cornish, even if my sticker’s filthy and my jacket. (upbeat music) I went to town one afternoon with my parents and my brother and sister and my dad needed a puncture repair patch for his bike so we went into the local bike shop and there was a little advert there for a 100 kilometer randonnee. I think it was kind of said jokingly, but my mum said to dad, oh you and Chris could to that.


This is 1997 and a few weeks later we did the ride, 100 kilometers. It was called the Rosie Ride, organized by Truro cycling club. Took six hours, 25 minutes but to this day I’m still the youngest person to have ever done it. And then from there, dad and I kind of we enjoyed cycling so on a Sunday he’d milk the cows real early and then we’d go out on a Sunday and ride with a local club, which was Truro for the first year and then Chuffs racing club after that and I kind of really enjoyed it to the point that in 1998 I did my first ever bike race at a place called RAF Portreath.


There were no kids my age so I had to ride with the older kids but I kept up with them for three of the five laps and then all of a sudden I didn’t keep up with them and, well that’s when I first realized that I suffered from asthma actually. And I really enjoyed it, I loved the sense of adventure you got from riding a bike. You can go out on these long rides, see things you’d never, ever seen before and that still appeals to me now. (upbeat music) Yeah I suffer with asthma quite badly. So I’ve always had asthma, I had it when I was a little kid, it really got worse when I started cycling. That’s when I started to notice it and even to this day I still have to take inhalers. It’s just one of those things you learn to live with, certain times of the year meant I was a useless bike rider because I just couldn’t breathe. Again, suffering with the hay fever and you just kind of accept it really.


My first ever race. So it was around this place called RAF Portreath and it was quite a hilly circuit, really exposed on the cliff tops on the north coast of Cornwall. I think there were only three kids in the race and most of them were… Well all of them were older than me. I was only 10 at the time. I kept up really well for the first three laps, I think the circuits like two miles long, roughly from memory. And then all of a sudden after three laps that was it, like I just couldn’t carry on, big red puffy face and just out of breath, legs burning but I just remember really enjoying it. I think I did it in like a football shirt, I didn’t have any proper cycling kit at the time. (upbeat music) You know what I think after doing that first race, I was instantly hooked,


I loved the feel of it, I loved going down hill, I love riding uphill at the time. Everything about it captured my imagination and I loved it. Significantly, we are about to pass a hotel where I’ve literally spent, I don’t know, hundreds of nights over the years because it was generally the perfect place to stop between meeting my team and going to a bike race or because I was training with others or whatever. And I still swear it is the best nights sleep ever because they’ve got the most amazing black out curtains there and also it’s a really quite place and that, to me, is the most important thing when you’re choosing a hotel. It’s just down there. Just behind the EE building. (laughing) Look at that view. (laughing) Oh my goodness. Stunning.


Traffic light Grand Prix, one, two, three. Seven miles an hour. (groaning) 12! Yeah so growing up in Cornwall, the sea was a massive part of my life and I don’t know if it comes from every time my dad had a cold he’d go to the beach and be like… (gasping) I feel better because I’ve been to the beach, it’s like a magical cure for everything. So, it was kind of ingrained in me that going to see water was this magical cure and you’d always feel better. And it’s only when you start thinking about it that you realize that these misconceptions are deeply ingrained from being a child. But look, I can see the sea and all of a sudden I feel better.


So every time I used to go training I’d always make sure I could see the sea and in fact, when I did live somewhere that was quite land locked, when I lived in France or in Holland, it never felt quite… It didn’t feel quite like I was at home because I was too far away from the water. (gentle music) Finally made it to the sea side. (gentle music) Since obviously growing up in Cornwall, I was used to being by the sea a lot and just actually riding my bike towards the sea, sitting there if I was on a recovery ride or whatever.

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There’s something about just hearing the sound of water gentle lapping the rocks, kind of helps me forget anything else that’s going on in my life so if I’d had a bad race or whatever, generally the first thing I’d do would be to get my mountain bike and go and ride on the coast the next day. So over the years I’ve made loads of attempts to move away from where I grew up and I kind of never imagined I’d live there anyway but in recent years, certainly having a family, two young kids, my wife, we kind of found it a natural home for ourselves. And I’m not sure if it’s being near the water that makes us feel so at home and so relaxed but in Cornwall there are just so many things that you can do just at the drop of a hat, go out and have a little explore in the countryside, along the coast and every day was kind of different.


So yeah, it’s a new challenge and a new chapter now but we’re quite lucky with where we live so we’re looking forward to exploring there as well. And we now live in an incredibly rural area, probably more so than actually where I grew up. I grew up just outside of Truro and you can get to the town really easily, whereas now the nearest town pretty much is Bath and that’s 40 kilometers, and I quite like it like that. So you really get to go home at the weekends and spend quality time with the kids and enjoy that side of life as well. But as much as I love sitting out by the sea listening to the water, it’s pretty cold so come on, let’s go and get a coffee in the van.


Nice. That’s the coffee made, so find a comfy seat and we’ll go through a few of my scrap book items. (upbeat music) Here is literally the first thing I ever had to do with cycling. So, the 8th of June 1997, 63 miles or 100 kilometers. Randonnee ride, so these are all like cue notes so over bridge then at T junction, turn left and it’s covered in instructions like this. And that is what you would have had to navigate around one of these rides. Organized by Truro cycling club which I didn’t realize at the time was actually only quite a new club. I think they celebrated their 25th anniversary this last year. The ride went pretty much past our home so sign post Baldhu, two and a half, Carnon Downs four. This is all really close to where I grew up.


And to do the ride you had to raise a little bit of money. Back then I managed to raise £81 for Sight Savers International. So there’s even more, look, there’s loads of stamps from that first ride. It wasn’t long after that that I did my first race. 7th of September 1997, did a 70 mile bike ride. So I would have been 10 years and two months at the time. That’s a picture of me, that’s an actually photo, that’s how we took photos back then. Right next page and my first ever race bike, I was incredibly lucky with this, it was absolutely amazing that when I was 10 and a half, my parents were able to get me a Battaglin racing bike and it’s the only bike from the past that I still have and it appeared at my wedding a few years later.


The boxing day, so the day after Christmas we then rode to this lake which is Stithians Reservoir which is where my family’s from originally, like 80 odd years ago. And in a bizarre twist of fate, I ended up living there for two years up until very recently. The original advert for the bike that I had, but actually looking at that, I think that might be the one level up with Veloce and not Avanti which is what I had on mine. This is an advert for my first ever bike, as in a wanted advert, so wanted for 10 year old boy, keen rider, racing cycle, 17 to 18 inch frame, must be in excellent order and good quality. I’m not going to embarrass anyone in this photo but I remember the names of most of them.


Anyway, the ride that I did is now ridden in memory of this man who is Bob Mansbridge, that’s quite special. And here’s a picture of me at my first ever club dinner back in 1997 this is. This guy taught me to corner, Tony Rowel and that’s me on the start line. Well I’ve got a cycling jersey on underneath which I didn’t realize but quite a baggy shirt there. So this is racing in Exeter which is in the south west of the UK which would have been the second place I ever raced. And in fact, I’ve got pictures of me taking my hands off the bars there. Not a massive self promoter but if I got a picture of it, I might as well share it.


There we go, just after the finish line, hands off the bars, wahay! First divisional championship, that’s me in the massive T-shirt. This is something that became a theme of my career. Sprinting for the line, not really sure what’s going on in that picture. Couldn’t tell you if I won or was second, no idea. First ever racing license, looks like I used it quite a lot that year because it’s kind of falling apart, probably sat in my wallet for a while. Geraint Thomas there, he turned out to be quite good, didn’t he? Really interesting photo of the back of my dad’s head. (laughing) My mum watching me over the barriers. That’s quite an embarrassing photo for mum.


Ah, here we go, these are cool pictures. So this is when I first learnt to ride the treck and this is Calshot track which is near Southampton, kind of on the south coast of the UK and it is an incredibly short track. 148 meters, it’s the shortest track by quite a margin in the UK. So I always had a really miserable face on the start line even when I was a kid and it looks like I don’t enjoy racing and in later days you could certainly almost argue that point but I used to love it, I don’t really know why I always looked so miserable. Look at that, that’s a pain face. It’s probably important to mention, the person that I blame for getting me into cycling, wasn’t my dad, wasn’t my mum, it was Richard Evans who was the son of neighboring farmer. So he grew up not a million miles away from me, he’s quite a lot older than me, a lot older than me Rich but he turned up at our Cub Scouts one night with a bike and the shoes, the wheels, everything looked really cool and it was him that first took me out on a Saturday to go for a bike ride and actually helped me a load throughout my early career because he was just always friendly, positive and full of advice, and used to push me home nearly ever single weekend.



So fortunately now I can do that to him. Here he is, dressed in his kit. Cardiff Ajax, just before he went off to race in France. (gentle music) So my first ever trips away were to Holland, or the Netherlands, and the first one came in 1999 and we went to Helmand Yoke tour in Bao Toulouse Helmand and yeah it was amazing, you had kids games in the morning and racing in the afternoon or vice versa and it was just like a week of fun for kids on bikes. The next year I went back for a couple of weeks and I did alright. Holland, famous for it’s climbs or not but it kind of alluded to my sprint ability because the climbs were actually, I think under two and a half minutes and I won the king of the mountains which is something that I kept on doing in that race because it was a really short time trial and growing in the cycling club community that I did in the UK, there are actually loads of hill climbs. So I was quite well rehearsed in warming up for them and then going really fast. I celebrated my 13 birthday in Holland, so my first Dutch card.


(speaking in a foreign language) And that was kind of like the start of me learning Dutch and falling in love with the place to the point that I actually thought I was going to live there forever but years later, crashed, hit my head, six month of concussion and feeling homesick and everything else that goes with concussion which is a horrible thing to suffer with. So we moved back and stayed in Cornwall for a while but I absolutely loved racing in Holland. I met my wife there in 2002, didn’t see her for five years and then bumped into her again and we’ve been together ever since. So yeah, the Netherlands is a country that I owe a lot to really. Most of my favorite races were there, I absolutely love racing there, the racing’s aggressive, it’s fast, it’s tactical, you have to be really well positioned all the time. There’s just a lot going on so it’s really action packed which is good fun. (upbeat music) It was my mid teenage years when I started to get really serious with cycling. This is the Youth Olympics in 2003 with John Mosley there in that picture and then I don’t know I think I finished 6th in the end which probably at the time I was quite annoyed with. And then, when I was 19, or actually when I was 18, I was so convinced that I was going to be amazing at cycling, I took myself to France and spent a year living there and whilst I hated basically every single minute of living in France, it’s taught me a huge amount about being an adult and being a grown up to the point that I now actually really value the experience that I was able to have back then. I raced for a French team who paid me a tiny bit of money in return for coaching their youth riders and washing the team cars and just being generally well behaved and trying to ride my bike. Not a great year at all but as I said I learnt loads and because of that experience I went back to Holland the next year and I met my wife because of it so it’s not all bad, is it? I actually think it’s pretty cool kit and back then I was a good 14, 15 kilos lighter than I am now. The following year when I went to Holland, I was actually quite a bit bigger. I got up to about 69 or 72 kilos or something like that and I’ve been a similar weight ever since. (gentle music) So over the years I got loads of jerseys. Unfortunately I haven’t kept many of them, I’ve given most of it away to family and friends to wear when they ride their bikes but Tour Two’s leader’s jerseys, something I’m particularly proud of, that series was a huge part of my career. Probably the best year, I think you would have seen in James’ video that actually these jerseys go with these jerseys and I think you’d be hard pushed to find someone on our team that didn’t agree that’s just the best team ever with the best coach ever, Steve Benton. We had the best mentor ever in Nigel Mansell who was just incredible at getting us all to act like actual professional athletes and the way you conduct yourselves. So that was a really special experience. We’ve got 2014 Rapha Condor, getting 4th series overall. One Pro cycling, jersey that’s probably been ruined by riding some of the spring classics and yeah, didn’t stand the test of time very well that one. And then another 2014 jersey with Rapha, pretty cool jerseys. Unbelievably, that still fits, it just stretches really well. Then we’ve got some winning ones, this is pretty cool. The last ever person to win a bike race in Libya. We rode for a team called Pendragon that year and Nick Bourne took us over to Libya. And then this one, Ronda Provincie Antwerpen which was really cool because that was like the first decent race that I won over in that part of the world in Belgium. Yeah it was quite unexpected really, I’d had glandular fever and I’d only started racing the 1st of June that season and I won the first race and then this was in August and it was a big sprint and I won that as well. And then these days I’m wearing this which I’m especially happy about because despite wearing the occasional red leaders jersey, I never actually got to race in red and I always wanted to ever since I think I was about 12 and our local club had a vote for what color their next seasons kit should be, I was like red but I was the only one. So yeah, I love riding in red, I think it’s a pretty cool jersey, but also because already it’s given me a whole new sense of adventure with my cycling. I’ve done Sportive’s in the Dolomites and I’ve been Amar, I’m riding my bike for pleasure, I’m like racing where it’s you know a real straight job. It’s breathed a whole new lease of life into my cycling career. (upbeat music) So I stopped racing last year because I kind of achieved all that I felt I was ever going to achieve. The motivation wasn’t the same to continue performing, I got the incredible exciting experience to come and do this but the main reason, truth be told, is that I just want to spend more time with my family. (upbeat music) Mine was winning the Ronde van Midden-Nederland in 2016 and the reasons it’s my proudest achievement is because it’s based in the area of Holland where I first went in 1999. It’s on the first roads that I ever won bike races on in Holland. It’s where I spent my entire like young career in Holland, it’s where I met my wife. The roads there have just got so many special memories, it’s the closest I’ll ever get to a home race and yeah, it’s really, really special and in fact, it’s the only trophy I like to have on display in the house. (upbeat music) So a huge part of my life is actually living life and not just being tied to a desk or tied to my job. Even when I was a bike rider, my favorite thing to do was to get out in my adventure van, that’s what I call it anyway. The family adventure van. So we built it in 2016 and 17 and we kind of finished it last year, except with a project like this you never actually finish it and every single time you get into it you… Whoa! I haven’t finished telling you about my adventure van. Guys, guys? (upbeat music) So when I’m not busy toiling away at GCN towers or out on my bike in some stunning mountain scenery, I like to spend my time with my family in the family adventure van. Come and have a closer look. Before we start, if I plug this bad boy in, that’s 300 watts, that’s more than I produce on my bike these days. Electrics, boom, boom, boom. Lights are on. Get inside, we’ve got a table, lots of food gets eaten on there. We have a sink. Gas hobs. And party trick, running water! All important speaker, laptop, some anti-slip netting. Rock and roll bed. And upstairs, oh yeah we have a mezzanine which is where the kids sleep or if I’m in it by myself because when I was traveling to races, I’d sleep up there as well. We’ve got the… This is the wardrobe basically, where you can throw all your odds and sods. So you can see it’s an unfinished project, bars on the floor and this… I’m proud of this. In the hope that it opens. (laughing) This is what happens when you build stuff yourself and you don’t know what you’re doing. (creaking) Right, shall we do that again? (beep) (rattling) Ta-da! It’s a larder unit. This is where you get, I don’t know like tins of fish. A little bit of lighting, some curtains, somewhere in here we’ve got cover for the windows. Stick these on and away you go. Genius. But my proudest feature. (singing) Here we go, bike storage, up to six bikes at one point. Toilet, pre-race nerves, kind of self explanatory I think. And then, bike and BBQ storage space. Oops. And of course if you go camping you’ve got to keep it clean. (upbeat music) I do yeah, I mean it’s a little bit temperamental at times like now I’m fighting with the chain underneath the door which is held together with a zip tie. (upbeat music) That’s better. And you know what time it is, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the free hub sound check. And as you can see, I’m rolling the 16 inch standard steels. (knocking) Yep, they sound like they’re not rusting. That’s the end, I hope you enjoyed having a closer look at my personal life and my professional career. If you haven’t already done so, check out James’ meet the presenter over there to learn more about him. Give me a big thumbs up before you do so. Right, I’m off to bed.


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