An 85-year-old record-holding cyclist has urged other bikers to observe the rules of the road to stay safe this winter.
Patsy Fitzsimons from Navan, Co Meath, holds a national record in the 85 age category with the Irish Veteran Cycling Association.
Patsy cycles almost 65 kilometers twice a week before heading out to compete in an 80km event most Sundays during the racing season.
The octogenarian mainly sticks to the back roads when out training to avoid heavy traffic but says he has seen leisure cyclists taking unnecessary risks.
“The roads are much more dangerous now than when I was starting out and I tend to stick to back roads mostly but you have to observe the rules of the road,” he said.
“That’s just dangerous behaviour and it’s not right.”
However, his daughter Laureen admits that she worries when he’s out training.
“My heart skips a beat every time he goes out but I know he’s long enough out on the roads now that he’ll be okay. But he won’t carry a mobile phone with him as he says it adds weight and would slow him down so if he ever goes missing, God knows where we’d start looking for him,” she said
The father of two, who has never been in hospital overnight, is also an advocate of the flu vaccine to keep him illness free.
“I got the flu vaccine last year and was cold and flu free all through winter so I’d highly recommend it and will definitely be getting it again.”
The fit pioneer man started racing in 1956 with Navan Road Club and won a number of races over the years.
Such is his love of cycling that he went to a family wedding in Tullamore, Co. Offaly, a decade ago and insisted on cycling home the next day.
“I bought my first second-hand racing bike in 1952 and it cost me 20 pound. Nowadays, you can pay up to €10,000 for one.
“I love being out in the fresh air and I love the thrill of trying to better my time. I’d recommend it to anyone.
“However, you have to train. If you don’t train hard, you’ve no business racing and you should stick to the leisure events.
“I’ve also my wife Olive to hugely thank for supporting me through the years and taking care of my dirty training gear after I come back from a cycle,” he laughed.
Navan Road Club member Niall Doggett described Patsy as ‘inspirational’ adding, “everyone in the club holds him in such high regard. If I’m still cycling at his age, I’ll be a happy man.”
Patsy is now gearing up to take part in the Navan Road Race charity cycle in aid of St Vincent de Paul on Christmas Day and will also take part in a 24-hour roller cycle in aid of ARC Cancer Care in Navan this Thursday which will also remember Meath cyclist Sean Lynch who died in a cycle race last year.