South West London DA: Sou' Wester Archive
Profile of Mark Roy

Profile: Mark Roy - (Nov/Dec 2001)

Mark Roy's work locally has been recognised by the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames. He was presented with The Mayor's Community Award at a recent ceremony. An account of Mark's introduction to cycling follows.

Mark Roy has been riding with Midweek Wayfarers for many years. He prefaced this profile with the explanation that in India, the country of his birth, a bicycle is a poor man's transport - only the people who cannot afford to own a car, or a scooter, ride a bicycle. This profile tells how Mark broke away from this cultural difference to become an accomplished cyclist in Britain with a Section of the SW London CTC.

Mark Roy was born in the Punjab, his father was in the British army. After passing his degree Mark Roy came to England at the age of 23, which he describes as his destiny. He worked for many years in the paper industry. Saving some money, the first thing he did was to buy a car and begin to lead a life of luxury - eating rich food, too much drinking and no exercise. Normally Indian food is the cuisine, which is rich in fat and, as many know, very hot. The result was a heart attack, the first one occurring in 1965. He somehow survived with the help of medications but it was difficult walking any distance without stopping for breath. His heart condition gradually deteriorated causing various limiting factors on his lifestyle.

He strongly believes in God and destiny and one day in 1984, whilst in a library he picked up a book on cycling for no reason at all - just to have a look at it. Flicking through the book he saw a list of names of people who were keen on cycling and found the name of Arthur Butcher, who happened to live in New Malden. Mark Roy telephoned him to find out about cycling, not that he intended doing it himself. Arthur asked him if he had a bicycle, He said, "Yes, it is the bicycle on which the boys deliver newspapers from my shop". Arthur arranged to meet him on Hogsmill Bridge one Wednesday morning and said "we will be going to elevenses at Cobham". This nearly killed him but he never told Arthur how he felt. He could not go any further, the return journey (mostly downhill) took him three hours and on the way he was walking, stopping every fourth step. He decided not to go cycling again.

That evening Arthur Butcher telephoned to find out how he had enjoyed the ride. Lying, Mark replied, "It was great!" After a few days Arthur rang again to say that he would be coming to the shop on Wednesday morning. Mark could no longer hide his feelings and Arthur sensed that the first ride may have been too fast. So he said that next time it would be a lot slower and he should "come back when you feel like it". So somehow Arthur persuaded Mark as, in the presence of his wife, he did not want to appear to be a coward. To cut the story short, Arthur was determined to make him a cyclist. The first six months was hell, the sore bottom, stiff legs, tired body... but somehow the cycling continued. Results began to be apparent. Mark began to feel that he could walk without getting out of breath. The G.P. also noticed that his blood pressure lowered, dropping him from 160/100 to around 140/90. Gradually Mark Roy was getting hooked on cycling. Life once again started to look pleasant. His weight came down from 14 stones to 12 and he began to enjoy life.

Mark Roy retired from his business in 1984 and became a regular rider with the Wayfarers. In September 1990 he arranged a 21 day cycling tour of India taking a group of eight members of the South West London DA. Rita and Maurice Wilkins, Bill Price, Doug Nurse, Reg, Eileen and her husband Den. They visited the Golden Temple, part of Kashmir, Simla, New Delhi, the Taj Mahal in Agra, Jaipur in Rajasthan. All in all, the tour covered some 900 miles and at the end Mark rightly felt he had qualified to be accepted "as a fully-fledged 'bikee'".

One day in 1991 whilst out cycling Mark felt a bit too tired and had some pain in his chest but he managed to cycle back home. The doctor arranged to get him checked in the hospital. When the Angiogram was done the consultant said, "I cannot believe how you are surviving, out of the four arteries, three are completely blocked and the fourth is 70% blocked - and you are telling me that you cycled all that distance!" He concluded that the force of cycling was pushing the blood through. Within a few days Mark Roy was in a wheel chair being pushed by his wife on his way to hear about his bypass operation. Mr Smith, the Consultant, told him that he was going on holiday that Friday and that Mark would be on top of the list for the op. However, after another evaluation, the consensus was that Mr Roy would not last that long and was scheduled for the operation immediately. The operation was done and after a week's stay in hospital Mark came back to his house. It took a whole month before he started returning to cycling again but at his six monthly check-up he was doing some 10 miles. After nine months he was doing 20 to 25 miles. The consultant could not believe it when told. It was true! The consultant who conducted the operation told the BBC who arranged to make a film on the Wayfarers Group and showed it worldwide.

Picture of Mark Roy