First Gear? My first bike was a blue Raleigh Chopper with big fat tyres. I recall taking the stabilisers off and throwing them in the dustbin. I was shouted at for making a noise; it was five in the morning. I was going off with my father, who was a racing cyclist. He had been shortlisted for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 but chose to marry my mother instead.
Chain Gang? I am mildly dyslexic and retaining information is a frustrating problem. This was not picked up, as it has been for my son who is battling with it now and goes to a very good school. I was just someone with a bad memory. I now organise my life in a very structured way. I plan and make notes. In four years my cycling comes to an end - that's what I've planned - and then I do something sensible. I think you'll find that other riders may be mentally more healthy than me; I'm very intense about what I do. Some riders want desperately to win; some need to win. I fall into the latter category.
Little Wheel? I went to Hoylake Primary School in the Wirral, where I still live. I remember pulling a tooth out in class; Mrs Gatenby wasn't quite as amused about it as I was. Then I went to Hoylake Holy Trinity Junior School. I failed the 11-Plus and went to Hilbre Secondary School. As I got older, I realised I didn't have much in common with the people at school, which was sad. I was into sport - first swimming and, from 13, cycling - and the others were into cars and drinking: normal people. I was always particularly hopeless at sports days: all that running while balancing eggs on spoons. I would have liked time out during PE sessions to ride my bike but the school saw it as an insurance hassle.
Gear Change? I didn't really enjoy school and couldn't wait to leave. I passed two O-levels at a low grade and eight CSEs. Then I went on and studied carpentry at Withens Lane College, which I loved, and got a City & Guilds in Cabinet Making. I worked as a cabinet maker for one or two years. Before my first Tour de France, I took private French lessons.
Nose To The Wheels? With Peter Keen, my coach, we did a lot of research in the labs of Brighton University: batteries of physiological tests on treadmills and a specially adapted bicycle. The book I did with Phil Ligget, The Fastest Man on Two Wheels, was a coffee-table book with a foreword by Mick Jagger. We're possibly doing another one, a more technical, how-you-do-it book.
Top Gear? Ironically, I have been given some of the highest academic orders. I have an honorary MSc from Liverpool, my local university. I also have an honorary doctorate from Brighton University. It's a point of some amusement to me that Peter, who is a lecturer there, has never got round to taking his doctorate. In correspondence with him, I insist he addresses me as Dr Boardman!Reuse content