HE’S just five years away from his 100th birthday, but lively Lionel Veck is living proof that it’s never too late to get on your bike.
The 95-year-old raced in a cycling time trial between Havant and Chichester.
The retired butcher knew it would probably be his last time trial with Hampshire Road Club, but wanted to end his 74-year-old cycling career in style.
Getting back on the road was quite an achievement for Lionel as he has not cycled since he was injured when he was hit by a car at Langstone Roundabout nine years ago.
The accident tore muscles in his right arm and since then he has been unable to steer a bicycle.
Despite the setback, he has still been a dedicated marshal for Hampshire Road Club, which meets at West Stoke village hall near Chichester every Tuesday.
Fellow member Peter Dawson, a mere youngster at the age of 79, suggested that the pair ride in tandem at this week’s time trial.
While Peter did the steering, Lionel provided much of the leg power to cover the 10-mile course.
Lionel, of Preston Road, North End, said: ‘It’s nine years since I last raced.
‘I thought it would be really nice if I could have one last fling.’
To prepare himself Lionel spent time training on a stationary bike, riding up to 10 miles every day – as well as extending his shopping trips around North End.
He said: ‘I am as fit as I can be.
‘The only thing I have not tried yet is running.
‘I always do one mile or two walking every day.
‘I do a big circuit round the North End area and get about two miles in.’
Lionel, who was an RAF engine fitter during the Second World War, started cycling in 1937 after the doctor advised him to take it up to combat rheumatic fever.
During the war he would cycle from his RAF base in Worcester to Portsmouth.
He laughed: ‘It took me all night, but I got home by the morning.’
During his career Lionel’s best time trial for 10 miles was 23 minutes 39 seconds, but this time round he was pleased with a time of 42 minutes 32 seconds.
He said: ‘It was absolutely wonderful. All my family came out to see me do it.
‘We started off and I was puffing, but after a while the puffing stopped and we just carried on.
‘We got up to 25mph. I felt really wonderful.’
Lionel laughed: ‘Whatever you do, keep moving.
‘I always say try, try and try again!’
Fellow rider Peter, of Dorset Close, Horndean, said: ‘It’s wonderful.
‘I have ridden all over the country, but to ride with a guy who’s 95 years old is fabulous.
‘I doubt if there’s anyone else in the country who’s raced at the age of 95.
‘In the last half mile he was the one telling me to go faster!’