I’m recycling old newspapers when I notice an interview I’d missed in the Sunday Times with Queen of the Track, Victoria Pendleton.
Pendleton typically has two press modes – either lycra’d and riding the latest British Cycling skunkworks machine to victory or in Mary Janes and a frock promoting cycling for all, or more recently her own line of bikes. Occasionally she’ll be starkers for a lad mag or product promotion, though her more recent TV ads have been clothed.
Like all good interviews, this one recuts old material with a dusting of new to form a story with a balance of love, tragedy, tension and intrigue.
Love – she’s fallen for ex-Brit Cycling, Aussie Scott Gardner who’s had to leave the team to avoid a conflIct of interest
Tragedy – her parents split, tough for anyone, but especially for an athlete who craves a foundation that is dependable and consistent
Tension – her ongoing rivalry with Aussie sprinter Anna Meares which took another twist in Melbourne World Championships where Pendleton won their semi in dramatic style, then went on to win gold in the individual sprint
Intrigue – well that’s what I’m coming on to and it concerns the image that supported the interview
These pictures dont appear by accident so to see her riding a retro Alan track bike along what looks like Torquay sea front is something i find intriguing. To explain, she’s wearing a “hairnet” helmet and mesh backed gloves – which went out of fashion about the same time as ABBA split. The shoes are a bit incongruous and Adidas have managed to sneak their logo onto her shorts. The bikes an early “lugged and glued” aluminium framed Alan. It’s full Campag and probably about as rare as rocking horse manure. This image wasn’t a picture editors flight of fancy, it’s part of an “Olympics thru the ages” campaign for EDF. This bike (below) dates from the Los Angles ’84 Olympics. It’s a welcome stylistic diversion from her previous, more predictable modes.
Whatever the result in London, i feel I’m being prepped by the Pendleton PR machine for the next phase: TV appearances, probing autobiography, fitness DVD, clothing range, “Pendleton, the movie”? Meares’ comment after their most recent bout; “i think that this is a book that hasn’t finished being written yet” could be more accurate than she realises.
I’m intrigued to see where Pendleton’s career will go. Will she be hosting Question of Sport in 20 years time once Sue Barker chucks in the towel? Or head of a global bike brand like Chris Boardman? Both are credible options, but somehow predictable. Look at 80’s BMX legend Andy Ruffell, he went on to found the MOBO awards. Now that’s a career change.