Vintage racing bike helps maintain a healthy heart

Mike Skiffins (73) cycling on his 1984 bike.   Picture: Allan Hutchings (121855-804)
Mike Skiffins (73) cycling on his 1984 bike. Picture: Allan Hutchings (121855-804)
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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SUFFERING from high blood pressure, Mike Skiffins decided to take up cycling in a bid to help reduce it.

And the 73-year-old was left stunned when his doctor took him off his medication just months later because his blood pressure had returned to normal.

Desperate to maintain a healthy heart, Mike, of Leigh Road, Havant, is now a keen cyclist and regularly clocks up 40 miles with the Cycling Touring Club Portsmouth.

Now he has signed up to the British Heart Foundation’s 32-mile Round the Harbours bike ride in a bid to promote the difference cycling can make to people’s health.

‘I was amazed at just how quickly my blood pressure came down when I started cycling,’ he said. ‘It just shows how good for your health it is.

‘Heart conditions effect most families in some way and cycling is a great way to try to reduce that.

‘And it’s a lot of fun.

‘When you get to the top of Portsdown Hill it’s such an achievement and then coming down again with the wind on your face is wonderful.’

Mike will do the ride on Sunday on a 1984 Peugeot racer bike, complete with original tyres and parts.

He bought it around two years ago from a friend who had kept it unused in his garage for 28 years.

‘I already had a very similar bike before I got this one,’ he said.

‘I’d bought it for £5 from a tip and thought this one would be good for spare parts.

‘But when I realised how good condition this one was in I started using it instead. It’s practically brand new.’

He added: ‘There’s something about the sensation of cycling that’s hard to explain. It’s almost like flying. There’s no better feeling.’

Mike is one of 695 people taking part in Round the Harbours.

The ride passes through Southsea, Havant, Fareham and Gosport, using the two ferries to cross.

There are four starting locations and checkpoints along the way.

Although the event is mostly road-based, it is family friendly. See below for details of how to take part.


JOIN in the fun and help raise lots of cash for the British Heart Foundation, just like I am.

When I was a young girl my grandad had a stroke and it has left him very ill. He now struggles to do everyday things most of us take from granted.

I’m taking part in the ride to raise money for the charity’s research into heart conditions to stop the same thing happening to others. And it’s thanks to Portsmouth-based cycling firm Wiggle that I’m able to do so, as they loaned me a bike so that I could participate.

Please help me by taking part too, or sponsoring me at


There are four starting points for the cycle, one in Southsea, Havant, Fareham or Gosport. Riders can choose where to begin and will finish at the same location.

Anyone wanting to take part in the ride can register on Sunday at any of the four locations between 8.30am and 10.30am. The ride starts at 9am at each point.

In Southsea the starting point is on Clarence Esplanade, next to the Esplanade Car Park.

Riders leaving from Havant will begin at Langstone Technology Park, on Langstone Road. Lots of free parking and toilets make this the best starting point for people coming from out-with the area.

At Fareham the ride will start from Bath Lane Recreation Ground, Bath Lane.

Cyclists who want to start their challenge from Gosport will leave from Stokes Bay Car Park, on Stokes Bay Road.

Participants must bring their own bike, helmet, puncture repair kit, food, water and any necessary medication.

Entry on the day costs £20 for adults and £10 for children.