Tour de France mad Norfolk man shares his passion for the peloton
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018
To say that Peter Martin has a passion for the Tour de France is an understatement on a par with describing the legendary bike race as a leisurely cycle outing.
Someone who names his son Henri Desgrange after the founder of the world's most famous bicycle race could be said to have an interest bordering on 'Tour fever', and he readily admits to his weakness for anything connected to the legendary sporting spectacular.
Now the cycle-mad civil servant, who lives near Aylsham, is to share his enthusiasm by holding a fan's-eye-view exhibition in Long Stratton of memorabilia he has collected over more than 20 years following the race.
Chasing le Tour will feature books, magazines, newspapers, posters, photographs, shirts, publicity gifts, signs, bottles and even a Tour de France in miniature, all which tell the history of the 115-year-old race from 1903 to the present day.
'I'm one of these people who keeps stuff and there are a lot of souvenirs and advertising around the Tour De France and I've kept it all,' he said. 'Eventually my wife said you've either got to throw it or show it, so I started holding exhibitions to raise a bit of money for charity.'
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Mr Martin first got hooked after Channel hopping to Melun, outside Paris, to watch the start of the 1998 race and has subsequently followed 23 Tours, missing just two. Fortunately his wife Lisa and children Remy, 24, Millie, 20, and Henri, now seven, have grown to share his passion.
'We don't do the whole lot unfortunately because it's three weeks and a lot of miles. For the centenary tour we did end up doing the whole lot though, all 3,500 miles,' he said.
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'We took Henri to his first bike race at six months and his first Tour at nine months. He is now addicted to it. I took my mother last year and she is 83. We went to the Alps and she absolutely loved it.'
During his time following the race he has seen it won by British riders Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas.
'When I started going you had Chris Boardman and that was it really,' he said. 'There have been years I've been where there were no British riders in it at all. Now of course we are winning it year in, year out which is a wonderful change.'
He hopes his exhibition will attract cyclists, armchair fans and the simply curious. 'People are always surprised by how much stuff I've managed to accumulate over the years,' he said.
'People are very interested in cycling from the 1950s and 60s and I've managed to pick up a lot French magazines of that era, there are also lots of photos that we have taken that we've had blown up. In France they also produce models of the cyclists and all the Tour vehicles and I've collected them as well, including a miniature Tour De France with all the team buses, referees cars and cyclists. That always creates a lot of interest because people seem to like toys and models.'
Chasing le Tour will take place at Long Stratton Village Hall on October 13, 10am-5pm and October 14, 10am-4pm. Entry free but donations are requested for local charity Autism Anglia, while St Mary church will also benefit from the proceeds of the refreshments.