Unfit smoker of 46 amazes with cycling success
AN overweight smoker has become only the second man aged over 45 to become an elite cyclist and now lines up in races alongside Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy.
Nick Noble, of Portishead, had been a gifted cyclist and was a reserve road racer for the Olympic team in Seoul 1988. But aged just 22 he quit the sport – exhausted of travelling to Europe each weekend and disillusioned by witnessing illegal drug use – and focused on a career as an architect.
Recently, though, after gentle teasing from his brother Toby, Mr Noble, by his own admittance an overweight smoker, got back on the saddle aged 46.
To become an elite cyclist riders have to accrue 550 race points as quickly as possible. For most this is a steady progression usually over three or four years.
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But for Mr Noble's rise was so rapid he had effectively gone from novice to elite within seven months.
He is only the second man over 45 in the UK to become an elite cyclist and only the second man to achievement elite status within 12 months.
After just 16 weeks training Mr Noble, a sprint specialist, had his first race and won not only that event but the first three he took part in.
"It was then that I realised I could be an elite cyclist," Mr Noble, a member of Bristol Road Club, told the Post. "At that point the first thing I was doing after crossing the line was lighting up but it's not a good advert for the sport and I stopped smoking four months ago.
"Since that first race in February I have competed in 67 and won eight and finished in the top five in more than half.
"I still have a few to go. I think it will be almost 80 by the time the season is over."
The amount of training needed for his achievement has seen Mr Noble effectively put his life on hold for a year.
"I ride 30 miles to work, do an hour interval training during the day, then ride 30 miles home again," he said.
"I tend to have a bowl of pasta for lunch, protein shakes after training and something light for dinner because at my age keeping the weight off is tough.
"I also have a sports massage each week which is important."
The vast expense of the sport has also proved tough.
"There are so many things. I must have spent £20,000 on bikes and there is the entry fees, travelling and clothing.
"You can buy two wheels and they cost £2,000 and if you crash that's it, because you can't insure them."
But Mr Noble, who lives with girlfriend Sue, 42, said the hard work had been worth it and he is proud of his achievement.
"In a weird way it's a greater achievement than what I did when I was younger," he said.
"That is because it's off the back of me being a heavy smoker and having a body that was overweight and without a sporting muscle in it.
"Eleven months down the line I am lining up on the start line next to Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy at a race in Newport – and getting well and truly beaten I should add. I just hope I can be an inspiration to other cyclists – especially those my age."
Brian Kelly, of Bristol Road Club, said: "We would like to offer Nick huge congratulations from everyone at Bristol Road Club. What an inspiration you are.
"This is an incredible story of effort and commitment."