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Dave Le Grys – “One day I’ll be happy to ride my bike through the lanes”

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Dave Le Grys has been on the British track scene since I was a junior — that’s a long time. We thought we’d best have a word with the man who was winning track medals in 1973 and nearly 40 years later is still winning them.

Le Grys was born in Surrey, 56 years ago; he started cycling at the age of 12 and when he was 15 his parents immigrated to New Zealand.

That’s where we take up the story.

Dave Le Grys
Dave ‘at home’ on the track.

You were New Zealand junior sprint champion in 1973, Dave?

“Yes, nearly 40 years ago!

“I was offered New Zealand citizenship because they wanted me to ride the Commonwealth Games, which were in Christchurch the following year.

“But in my heart of hearts I wanted to return to the country of my birth — and that’s what I did.”

Dave Le Grys
Dave with some fellow World’s GB Team members: Messers James, Fennel, Doyle and Mitchel.

Remind us about your amateur career, back in the 70’s.

“I was the eternal silver medalist in the individual sprint — Trevor Gadd was my main rival back then.

“I made big gains in the tandem sprint; but my chances as a Worlds contender in that event came to an end in the Commonwealth Games at Edmonton, Canada in 1978.

“I was riding with Gadd and we crashed in the finals, I broke my back and had to have a lot of treatment and operations.

“I rode the kilometre as well as the sprint and tandem — and I wasn’t a bad road rider either,: I won the Perf’s Pedal race and Wally Gimber early season events in England.”

After you’d recovered from your back injury, you turned pro.

“I was offered a decent salary to turn pro and won the pro sprint four times, as well as the keirin a couple of times — I also found time to break the British land speed record for a bicycle at 110 mph behind a pace car.”

Dave Le Grys
Dave with his land speed record bike. Image©Phil O’Conner.

And then you came back as a master?

“I’ve won 21 world titles as a master, the most recent being in the 500 metres time trial on Manchester velodrome.

“I’ve lost count of how many British master titles I’ve won.”

Dave Le Grys
Sporting his World Masters Champion jersey in Mallorca.

What was the attraction with the tandem?

“I was Dave Rowe who got me into it — we won a couple of British titles together but that part of my career ended with that crash with Gadd in Edmonton.

“We had a front wheel blow-out at high speed and I had to be air-lifted to hospital.”

Dave Le Grys
Dave on the front of the tandem.

What’s your proudest sporting achievement?

“I ran five London marathons and got down to 2:38 — not bad for an old sprinter with a bad back!

“I did duathlons and triathlons too, but that 2:38 is probably what I’m most proud of.

“Bike-wise it’s probably my most recent win in the 500; a year ago I had a really bad crash in a points race — one of those ones where there was nowhere to go and I went right into it.

“Among my injuries was a punctured lung and doctor warned me that I’d never race again; so to come back from that to win was something special.”

Dave Le Grys
That World Record time!

How do you retain motivation to ride the masters’ events?

“If you’re coaching people it’s good to be able to practice what you preach!”

Dave Le Grys
Preparing for another few laps of hurt on the tr