Proof that sport brings people together and provides the basis for a long-lasting relationship are cyclists are Pamela, 84, and 86-year-old John, known as Jack, White who met through Cycling UK club in Buckinghamshire in 1953.
They were aged just 19 and 22 when Pamela’s sister introduced them. Jack was quick to persuade Pamela to join him on a few cycling days out, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The pair married a year later and remained members of the South Bucks District Association, a Cycling UK member group. They have two daughters. This July they will celebrate their 64th wedding anniversary.
Pamela said: “We were so lucky in the South Bucks DA. It was like one great big family. It was full of young couples like us and lots of children. It had a lovely family section.
“Our two daughters, they had no other option, but to cycle as well. We went through the usual stages of a tandem, a sidecar, seats on the back of bikes.
“Then Jack bought a triplet, him on the front, the youngest, Carolyn, in the middle and Susan on the back. We even toured and hostelled with it on the Isle of Wight, taking it down to Portsmouth on the train. That was an adventure in itself.
“That week we became notorious on the island with that triplet, with motorists tooting their horns and waving. We had to stop and build sandcastles of course to keep the children happy.”
Cycling created so many happy memories and continued to be a central part of the couple’s lives, although sometimes for very different reasons.
Pamela says: ““He’s done time-trailling, everything. He’s cycled over 250,000 miles. But for me it’s the social side of cycling I like.
“He’s been racing, I’ve been marshalling, and making the cakes and teas. I’ve never been competitive.”
Pamela and Jack have also seen cycling change over the decades.
“The bikes, the equipment, the clothing, everything,” Pamela says. “Hostelling has changed too; you used to have to get there under your own steam and now almost everyone uses cars. I think it’s changed for the worse, but that’s probably just a sign of growing older.”
Pamela and Jack now have four grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Four-year-old Issa, Pamela’s “shining light”, can already pedal 10 miles.
Today, Pamela and Jack live in Ludlow, Shropshire, where they try to keep up their mileage. Jack is a life member of Cycling UK – and shows no sign of slowing down just yet.
Pamela says: “I do think the cycling has been incredibly beneficial. The cycling we’ve done in the past has definitely paid off now in our general health. I’ve heard it said that cyclists appear 10 years younger than someone of a similar age.”
Jack cycled Mont Ventoux aged 73 and then went back and did it again at 83. Pamela secretly thinks he’s a bit mad.