The first thing you notice upon meeting Bob Addy is, even at 81 years of age, he still has the physique of an elite-level road cyclists - a wiry frame, yet muscular in all the right places.
The second is the steely look in his eyes, piercing and coloured like the blue metal that would have made up the construction of many a road he determinedly stared down during his cycling career; a career that, according to his best estimates, saw him cover 1,654,000 km.
The travails of his tremendous travels across an eight-year pro career, and many more as an amateur and enthusiast, are told succinctly and sharply in his new book, The Driller.
The Driller is an entertaining account in which the reader never gets bogged down, and sees the now-Mandurah resident spin a tale as easily as he did a crankset over his 55-plus years behind the handlebars.
The title comes from his nickname, given to him by teammates and contemporaries because of his hard riding style and full-on attitude and dedication towards his sport.
"I was such a hard case, a real hard rider," Addy said.
"Even in training I was extreme. One day someone said 'he's absolutely drilling people out there'; that's where it comes from.
"I'd always get everyone working, especially if I got into a breakaway. If you were in a break with me you had to work and I let everyone know. If you didn't work as hard as me, you heard about it."
The decision to finally put his experiences to paper came from his attempts to regale his sons with stories of the past, which often lead to them reminding him that the anecdote was from a time well before they were born.
"I'd say to my sons "oh, remember this or that race in Sweden or Germany?', they'd say 'when was that?' and I'd reply 'it was 1961 or 1962' and they'd say 'Dad! You hadn't even met mum then!'," he recalled.
"I thought I'd better put it all down. Others had asked me over the years when was I going to write about my adventures.
"When I finally decided to do it I was 80 and once I started it really accelerated from there. I figured the clock is ticking and I'm getting to the wrong end of it.
"I've got two suitcases of clippings and photos from my career, plenty to put into a book and not everything went in. I'm very fortunate that I could look at a photo and recall all the details."
Early responses to The Driller exceeded Addy's wildest expectations, with more than 500 copies pre-ordered on Amazon.
"The person who helped me publish the book told me and I said, 'is that good? What's the score?' He said, 'Bob, 30-40 sales pre-launch is the norm. Is it good? It's f---ing good!'," Addy laughed.
"The feedback has been great. People are utterly amazed by what I did. Even for me, recalling my story, I'm amazed by it.
"I would stop and think, 'did I really do that?' When you're riding you just do it, win a race and look ahead to the next one. That was it. You didn't look too far to the future, it was all about being in the moment in a race and then the next race.
"I'm very humbled by the response. I can't believe the mark I've been able to leave on other people's lives, I really can't get my head around it. It's mind blowing.
"People have contacted me after reading it to say, 'Bob, I raced you in this race at this time and you smashed us!' and to them it's a highlight of their career but it was just another race to me. I'm very, very humbled by that. It's very rewarding."
Addy recalled a recent visit to his doctor when the subject of his cycling career came up and the doctor couldn't believe the dedication it took to ride among the very best cyclists in Europe.
"He couldn't get his head around the dedication it took," he said.
"He said 'you didn't have a youth', but I did and it was on my bike. You have to realise that's where I wanted to be because I wanted it; I wanted it from my heart," Addy said, gently tapping his chest over his heart with a closed fist.
"I got my first bike when I was 14 and started to get serious at 16. I didn't see my time on a bike as wasted youth.
"Lots of us wanted to be cyclists and by spending so much time riding I felt I had a leg up on the other lads around me."
That level of dedication indeed gave him a leg up; Addy's resume includes riding for England at the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, coincidentally held in his future home of Perth; riding for Great Britain in the Men's 100km Team Time Trial at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games; and riding in the 1968 Tour de France, among myriad one-day events and lesser UCI-sanctioned tours.
He was also the Amateur British National Road Race Champion in 1963 at the age of 22, making him the then-youngest to win a national title, a feat he didn't realise until he was six months into researching his book.
"The record keeping wasn't great back then so I didn't know I was the youngest ever to win," he said.
"I didn't get to enjoy that because you didn't have a way to look back on the previous winners at the time. The internet has made recording keeping so much better so I was able to look back and find that out and enjoy it belatedly."
After hanging up the casquette (cycling cap) on his pro career, Addy was instrumental in helping to shape the future careers of many young British cyclists, including future British National Champions and pros Ian Banbury, Simon Bray, Dave Rand, Matthew Stephens, Roger Hammond and David Millar.
Hammond, a two-time British Road champion, eight-time National Cyclo-cross champion and member of the British Cycling Hall of Fame, was so indebted to Addy's teachings he provided the foreword to The Driller.
"They called Roger 'the Pope' because he was so clean, I'd like to think of him as an acolyte of mine," the staunchly anti-drugs Addy said.
Sadly, but inevitably, talking about the world of professional cycling ends in a discussion around doping at some point; this is that point.
"(Drug taking) was rife," Addy said glumly.
"All the national team doctors would openly talk among each other about what their riders were on. They'd go 'well our guy is on this, this and this, what's your guy on?'
"If you're clean, and I was, and you're beating those guys, and I was, that talk would come to you; 'if our guy was on four pills you must be on five to beat him!' they'd say, but I wasn't on anything.
"Eventually the opportunities (to go to bigger teams) arrived. They wanted me because of how good I'd been. They'd say 'we've seen enough... but imagine how good you could be (by doping)!'
"I was brought up to be honest. My dad was very strict on honesty and it stuck with me my whole life. I can understand why a poor farm boy from abroad might get caught up in (doping), but deep in me I could never do it."
His anti-drugs stance eventually lead him to publicly challenge Tyler Hamilton, an American cyclist and former stage winner of all three grand tours (Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana) and Olympic gold medalist who was kicked out of the sport after testing positive for banned substances twice.
Hamilton turned an anti-doping crusader after he was subpoenaed by US federal agencies and came clean on his illicit practises in a hearing that eventually lead to the outing of Lance Hamilton as the worst drug cheat of all.
Addy attended a speaking event in Perth headlined by Hamilton because he wanted the former Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner to know what his dishonesty did to clean cyclists, diligently seeking out the microphone during the breakfast's Q&A session.
"I let him have it," Addy said, somewhat underselling the truth of the exchange; he called Hamilton, to his face, "a liar and a cheater".
"Some people from the corporate world came up to me after and said 'that was out of order and uncalled for', but if someone was going for a job in their industry and falsified their qualifications to get the job, how would they feel?
"(Hamilton) did the same. He falsified his talent by doping when others weren't. I was forced out of the sport eventually because I wouldn't cheat. Why couldn't I question the ethics of a man who profited from cheating, and kept profiting after his career because he cheated?"
It's views like that that might have lead Hammond to describe Addy "like marmite" ('you either love him or hate him' he former protégé said) - but what shines through above everything when you talk to him is an unrelenting love for what is, at its soul, a simple pursuit.
"I'd do it all again," he said.
Even knowing what he knows now? At the age of 81? All the hours, days, months and years dedicated to training and racing? The injuries? The offers and temptations to bend the rules in order to become a star of his chosen sport? The aches and pains of a life spent battling the road as much as the men he bumped shoulders and knees with in the peloton?
"Definitely! Of course everything is easy in hindsight, but I loved being part of it... of course I'd bloody do it all over!
"I still ride 300km each week. I ain't stopping until they put a wooden box around me."
We should all be so lucky to find a passion like Bob Addy's.
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