Shropshire cyclist makes it to top West Midlands team

A Shropshire cyclist, who only began racing competitively two years ago, has been selected for a top West Midlands team.

Graham South, 40, from Leegomery, Telford, quickly rose through the ranks of the Shrewsbury-based Paramount CRT club and was selected for the Paramount Performance Cycling Racing Team.

As the oldest rider on the team, he said he was surprised to be chosen but said road racing is becoming an increasingly popular sport for middle-aged men.

He said: “Cycling has had a massive resurgence and people want to get in on the buzz. With the Tour de France coming to England this year, more and more men in their 30s and 40s are joining clubs and I would certainly encourage them to do that. It’s great for fitness, for fun and for picking up a new hobby.”

Although Graham, who works for Thomas Vale Construction in Birmingham, has always ridden a bike, he only joined Paramount in July, 2012.

He said: “I used to mountain bike but then my work took part in a London to Paris bike ride and I had to get fit for that so that’s where my road biking career began.”

Graham’s first racing season in 2013 with Paramount was a huge success. He won his first road race at the Tour of the Wrekin in Bridgnorth. He also got to cat three for British Cycling points classification, just missing out on cat two by two points.

“I definitely want to get my cat 2 this year, get more wins and do well in the Shrewsbury Cycle Grand Prix in May,” he said.

Graham said he was honoured to make the team, which is made up of Victoria Grimmer, Tomos Owens,  Chris Wilkinson and Dave Griffiths.

He said: “It is all down to the support from the club that I have made the team. “You genuinely want to do well to get the performance team jersey and it really inspires other club members to train hard.

“The wealth of experience in the club is enormous. We are all teaching each other to improve and it’s just a big community of sharing information and trying to improve your riding.

“Paramount is a fun informal club and it caters for a multitude of ages and abilities. The social scene is also fabulous as we all meet on Saturdays at Stan’s Cycles’ coffee shop. We always have a coffee and cake after cycling.”

Ben Lawrence, managing director of insurance broker Beaumont Lawrence, which sponsors the team with Stan’s Cycles, said Graham’s success in making the team is what the club is all about.

He said: “Due to the Paramount structure, he has trained up really quickly and he’s done well. It inspires other Paramount club members to become proper racers.

“The club teaches and nurtures riders and shows them how to race. We really do encourage everyone from the newest rider to the most experienced and we are always looking for new members.”

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