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Flying Scotsman rides again on new DIY bike

HE WAS the Flying Scotsman who cycled his way into the record books on a bike made from spare washing machine parts.

Now Graeme Obree has unveiled another homemade bike – and the 43-year-old is planning one final tilt at the one-hour cycling record he famously smashed 16 years ago.

Sporting experts believe he has a good chance after he unveiled his new bike – which he built while watching television in his Ayrshire workshop – to an audience of cycling fanatics.

But Obree himself admits he will have a lot to do to convince the world he is up to the challenge – after battling depression, divorce and a suicide attempt.

He said: "I'm known as the mad cyclist, aren't I? There's a higher incidence of depression among elite sport people than the general population. We have a weird level of contentment.

"Think about it – if you have to win every race, then there's something not right about you. It's not a healthy obsession, not the sign of a balanced, self-fulfilled person, happy in their own skin."

But it's just that mindset that has forced him out of retirement for another attempt at the one-hour record, which measures the distance a cyclist can travel over 60 minutes.

"I don't have any choice – once I started thinking that I could get on to that pace and have a good day, then I had to do it," said Obree. "I've still got this drive to find out what I can do. It's probably the last-chance saloon, but I don't want to get to 50 and think, 'My goodness, I should have gone for that record'."

Obree built his first hour-record bike, Old Faithful, in his workshop – including old bits of washing machine in the construction. Nearly 20 years on, he has built another bike from spare parts, including 15-year-old pedals.

"I've built it within the limiting factors of the regulations," he said. When he unveiled his new machine at an event organised by online cycling forum BikeRadar, fans flocked to see it.

BikeRadar's Jeff Jones said both the bike and the man were up to the record bid.

He said: "This is Obree we're talking about. He is not a conventional man. And by the look of the machine we spotted, he seems to have hand-crafted every component, from the purple velvet saddle to the aluminium time-trial handlebars that he whittled down over the course of three months while watching TV.

"In fact, when you look at it closely, you can see it's an amazing machine – it's more retro than retro, and so much time has gone into building it. It's beautiful to behold and hard to get your head around the fact that it is designed to go very fast.

"And you can be sure it will with Obree astride it. The man himself looks very fit, and you can see it in his eyes that he's ready for the challenge ahead."

Obree claims that watching fellow Scot Sir Chris Hoy scoop Olympic glory also inspired him to get back in the saddle. "I was totally into the Olympics," he said. "It was just, wow, this is so good for cycling."

Obree, from Irvine, Ayrshire, has continued cycling since his 1990s heyday, but stepped out of the public eye after a massive reaction to his autobiography and the subsequent movie, The Flying Scotsman, starring Jonny Lee Miller.

Three years on, and after more personal hardship – the loss of friend and champion rider Jason MacIntyre, killed while training on his bike, and divorce from his wife Anne – Obree says he no longer wants to hide.

And he is willing to risk failure for one last shot at the hour record that made his name.

 
 
 

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