The Zommunique logo June '23

The Day my Grandson Met His First Sporting Idol – Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavendish made a fan for life and a moment that will last forever for a proud Grandad and his Grandson.
In the words of Ian Wilson, A Proud Dad, and Grandad.
Mark Cavendish hugs young boy

I started riding on Zwift in November 2020, joining DIRT on 1st December, so I’ve yet to complete my first year. Still, I already have all the route badges, more in-game kit than I know what to do with, and I’m currently sitting at level 43 doing my first Zwift Academy Event.  


I’ve taken a bit of the Summer off to ride with my new IRL club, “Brixworth Velo,” and as always, I’ve enjoyed watching the Tours this year.


But let’s go back a little. It’s 2013, and a young sprinter named Mark Cavendish was about to make his mark in Tour de France history, winning seven stages and setting British riders dreaming and hoping he might one day take the record for the most stage wins.  


I was amongst those fans and cheered him from the sofa whilst watching the hi-lights every year. Of course, I’ve been watching the tour for much longer than this, as my family will attest. Yes, every year for three weeks, the TV is on lockdown whilst dad watches the tour.  


Over the years, my love and passion for the three grand tours (Giro, TDF, and La Vuelta) but mainly the TDF has been transferred to my wife and children, who from time to time sit there with me watching, commenting on, and enjoying the show.  

family photo at finish line of bike race

This year a new member of the family joined us in spectating as Mummy and Grandad watched the cycling. Sam, my second grandchild, loved the man in green, often referring to him as Mark “Cavendish” because he was “super quick.”


When la Vuelta came on, he was disappointed that Cav wasn’t in it, but then Cav did a spot of commentating for it and the Olympics, and it was during one of those moments that he ran up to the TV and hugged it. Sam had got his first sporting Idol.  


My daughter Kerry and my wife heard Cav would be riding the Tour of Britain, so we made plans to kill a couple of birds with one stone. Visit my other Daughter in Scotland and watch the Edinburgh stage 7 race. 

Young boy with bike racer on his hoodie sweatshirt

Kerry made an iron-on transfer picture of Cav and bought Sam a hoody to stick it onto with a little label on the back with the hashtag #ComingForYourJersey (Clever Mummy!!).  


She gave this to Sam on the morning of the trip, and Kerry, Sam, and I made the long trip up the night before. Sam was really excited, and to be honest, we expected that we would likely just see him flash by on the bike, but at least Sam would get to see him.  

pro bike racer mark Cavendish

The next day we headed towards the stage finish, and having got there early, we headed for the hospitality area where I watched my girls racing Scalextric cars powered by the girls riding on turbo trainers. Oh, I did enjoy that. We soon headed up to the finish and got the perfect spot right on the line to watch the riders finish the stage.


When we were milling around on the line awaiting the arrival of the race, Mark’s wife Peta and the children wandered past and spotted Sam’s top. Peta stopped to talk to Kerry and fussed at Sam. Sam shared his sweats with the children, and we parted company as she went off to the team area.


A little while later, the race leaders came flying over the finish line. Cav cruised over a little way behind with teammate Julian Alaphilippe (the current UCI World Road Champion). He then turned back, waved to the crowds, and was hi-fiving spectators who were cheering him on as he headed back to the team bus.

two bike racers at finish line

I thought that’s awesome he got to see Cav, and Sam was happy, but Kerry had other ideas. “Let’s go down to the bus and see if we can get Cav’s attention.” And she was off.  


We stood with a massive crowd all in hope and were soon rewarded when a cheer went up near the back of the bus. Now some stars sign a few autographs, wave to the crowd, and get back on the bus, but not Cav.


He came down the entire length of the crowd, signing autographs, taking pictures and smiling, and answering questions. Peta joined him just as he got to us and quickly pointed out Sam to Mark.  

Mark Cavendish signs autograph for young boy

He came straight over, bent down, and said, “I love your top.” Kerry said, “Sam wants to be like you,” to which Cav said to Sam as he signed his top, “Well, one day maybe I will be wearing a top with your picture on it, and you can sign mine.”  


Kerry showed Cav the hashtag label #ComingForYouJersey, and Cav burst out laughing, enjoying the moment, giving Sam a fist-pump. Cav being a perfect gent, then posed with Sam for a photo. Cav made Sam’s day before he moved on to talk to others.  


It was the perfect end to a perfect day for a new Cycling fan-made extra special by a true Legend. Here’s to him breaking the stage wins record next year.

Have you met any of your cycling idols in real life?

Tell us about it.  Comment below!  Your fellow DIRTs want to know.

For more great DIRT stuff check out the DIRT Zwift Team page on The ZOM.

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