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Ian Bashford – an appreciation

The cycling community is like a family, bound together by a shared passion, shared experiences and unseen bonds. And each cycling club is its own little family. Bash had two of these other families – the Old Portlians and the Meridien. He joined the Old Portlians in 1996 and he was the key member involved in every aspect of its running and its success. He loved our little club, he loved the friendly rivalry with other clubs and he loved to compete against other riders. If an unknown rider passed us on the road, it was Bash who would take off after him or her and be the first to the stop sign. Every club needs someone like Bash but we don’t have ours any more. Bash was the string that bound us and now our little ship sails the seas unmasted, its rudder broken. The wheels have come off our bike and our tyres are flat and our handlebars don’t turn and our brakes don’t work and our lights have gone out because our chief rider and best mechanic is gone. But be not downcast, be not disheartened, be not sad for though we are all diminished by his passing, all our lives were enhanced through knowing him. I’m proud to say he was my friend and I’m proud to say I miss him. There are two memories that stand out for me. The first Eastbourne week-end I went on, I really struggled and when I finally made it back to West Wickham, Bash clapped me on the shoulder and said ‘you did well.’ You have no idea how much his approval meant to me. I got a bit stronger over the years and sometimes I would try and race Bash on certain Strava segments but just as I felt I was going to beat him, those little legs would increase their power and he would ease past. ‘Just once Bash,’ I would think, ‘just once, let me win.’ But he never did. You earned your stripes from Bash, they weren’t given away. And so… At the Corkscrew roundabout at 10.30 on a Saturday morning as the Old Ports slowly gather and the clock creeps round to Michael time, in draughty village halls at 6 in the morning as the lardy smoke hangs heavy in the air, sitting in High Elms café with a bacon and egg bap and the scuffling dogs yapping at your legs, and when Simon comes huffing and puffing up the hill and you’re tempted to shout ‘come along Lucky’ or ‘are you the last?’ look for Bash and he’ll be there. And at the Duo, which he loved, on the starting ramp waiting for the seconds to count down, heart beating faster, photographer snapping away, or as we gather in the garden of our rented house in St Jean de Savigny, opening the beers and listening to the cows and the donkeys and waiting for dinner to be served, in his perpetual shorts, moustache glowing in the tumbling sun, telling tales of a PB on the G21 or the G11 course or a short 58 or a medium 59 or worst of all a long 0, or at the side of the road struggling to remove a tyre with icy fingers, look for Bash and he’ll be there. And in the sunshine and the rain, in the cool, clear autumn and the chilly grey winter, in the gentle warmth of a fading English summer, through the falling leaves, on broken tarmac and dusty tracks, hustling up Jackass Lane, the sharp turn onto the Pilgrim’s Way, over the Filston rollers and the fly-tipped secret turns on Bodens, down every hidden hill on the byways and highways of Kent, or when your chain breaks or your gears need adjusting or your head-set is loose or your bottom bracket creaks, when you need duct tape or a safety pin or a map or a hint or a tip, or some good advice, when you need a mate, a pal, a buddy, a helper on the road, a mechanic, a man who knows the rules and abides by them, a racer, a fighter, a cyclist, a winner, a man who gave everything every time to everyone and never quit, look for Bash ‘coz he’s still there.  

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