My phone rings; private number. As situations go, this one normally results in me hanging up immediately. Today though, I do something different. Today, I answer the phone. I do this not because I’m interested in claiming PPI or discussing an accident that wasn’t my fault, but because I’m 99.99% sure there’s an all-time Olympic legend waiting for me at the other end of the line.
“Hi Jack, it’s Chris Hoy here,”
Sir Chris Hoy, knight of the realm. Sir Chris Hoy, six-time Olympic gold medallist. Sir Chris Hoy, the greatest Olympian Britain has ever produced. That Chris Hoy, talking to me now, on the phone, on a Thursday. It’s a surreal moment.
“You can have your main character jump on a bike, back pedal three times, and be transported to a magical kingdom.”
Hoy, who retired from competitive track cycling in 2013, is currently promoting ‘The Flying Fergus’ series. A collection of children’s books, co-written by Chris Hoy and Joanna Nadin, and illustrated by Clare Elsom, they tell the bike-based adventures of nine-year-old Fergus Hamilton and his friends as they travel back and forth to a parallel universe called Nevermore; a place where cycling is banned and Fergus’s Dad is being held captive by an evil king known as Woebegot.
“It started about two years ago. I was thinking of ways to inspire kids to take up cycling and the book idea was one that came out of leftfield a little bit. I hadn’t done any creative writing since I was probably about 12 or 13 at school, so it’d been a long time. I never thought I would get the chance to write books for kids,” Hoy tells me.
“It’s been one of the most fun things I’ve done since I retired from cycling. That’s the strangest thing. I never really expected it to be as much fun as it has been. My hope is that once kids have finishing reading the books they’ll want to get out and ride their bikes,” he adds.