Neil and Sol with their Speed MetalAs we’ve already shown in our SAS feature on Neil Ronketti //#002, we’re not just a bunch of incredibly young, talented and upcoming athletes in the Spin All Stars. Another of our founder members is Simon Oliver and he’s so grown up already that he even built a modern glassy extension to his quite enormous and very fine house in the country.

Now here at Spin Industries, we always like to get pro tips directly from the pros. So we thought it was high time to sit down with Sol over a beer or two and try to unearth the Inner Oliver.  Take it away, SAS member //#003.  

Sol, please introduce yourself to our friend on facebook. 

Well as you know Drew, I’m Simon Oliver, otherwise know
as Sol.  Luckily my middle name was not known when we were choosing nicknames at
school or otherwise I would’ve been called ‘Spol’! I’m a 48 year old child and an operations manager by day. And a Technical Numpty, confirmed
gadget freak, Jiu Jitsu 2nd Dan, and Petrolhead the rest of the time.

So I hear that you’re another cyclist who climbs rocks and mountains …

That’s right. I used to race motorbikes
with Neil, and when we gave that up to concentrate on family, well, you wake up one
day and realise you are no longer flush with youth. So sitting around for another
whopping great big Sunday roast, drinking beer, we got to talking! 

Getting old and
fat before our time was never in the plan, so on one of those days, and over a beer – all the best plans are always hatched over a beer – Neil and I decided we needed to
get fit and get some adrenalin in our lives again.

So we thought we’d do something that would
get us out in the open air and away from drinking beer and eating too much. Of
course living in the Fens, climbing was the obvious choice! 

Sol spins nonchalantly up the Hardknot during the Fred!

I see.  {The Fens as previously established is an area of outstanding natural flatness} 

And how about riding your bike Sol – where did that all start?

With climbing!
Inevitably as climbing got tougher, we needed to lose more weight. Cycling seemed
the obvious choice for older gentlemen who don’t do running or swimming!

Quite. Now, apart from me, obviously, who is
your favourite bike racer of all time and why?

Louis Joseph Baron Merckx of course. Between 67 & 74 he won 3 world
championships, 5 Tours, 5 Giros, and a
Vuelta. That’s a track record unlikely ever to be beaten. 

Besides Molteni emblazoned jerseys are the most
fashionable of all cycling jerseys – or so I’ve been told!

The classic orange and black, or was it dark blue? The Molteni jersey is certainly a classic. But I wasn’t aware it was a fashionable choice.  I’m quite partial to the pre-Molteni Merckx-era Faema jersey myself, but I’ve been sidetracked. 

Let’s move on to racing motorbikes: who’s your fave in this arena?  

Edwards – 8 years WSB and 12 years MotoGP – respect!

Hmmm. Old Col’s a gent, but your choice has surprised me.  I’d have thought you were more of a Mick Doohan kind of racer, perhaps even that other Dr., the Valentino.

Now then Sol, whenever Mrs Spin says its ok for me to get out on my bike, and that I really don’t need to feel guilty at all for leaving her to hang solo with the kids, I do find myself pootling along the lanes imagining that I’m Fabian Cancellara just riding casually off the front of the break at de Ronde. I wonder who you might be whenever you ride?

annoying bloke who’s always huffing and puffing behind you trying desperately
to stay in your draft, but never having quite enough to get past and do his
time at the front!

Good grief Sol: I’d never have thought that was you. But seriously, is cycling the new golf?

cycling is the new golf then I might need to find a new pastime!

I dont think it can be though. And the proof of that is the
Fred Whitton.  This event has an impressive atmosphere of it’s own. It’s big and bad and scary, but it
gets you out in the bad weather early in the year because you need the miles
before you arrive at the start in May. 

It has the reputation of being the
hardest single day cyclo-sportive in the UK, raises shed loads of money for
charity each year, and always throws something new at you every time you do it! 

Sol, how do you build an enormous glass extension on your enormous house and buy an enormous Range Rover, all at the very same time?

I think the answer is that you
ask your wife very, very nicely.

Ah. That won’t help in my case. Tell me, what do you like most
about Spin Industries?

and function. It’s all over the bikes and wheels that Spin creates. Finding something that other people haven’t yet realised is so good and helping spread the word. And walking into the
garage and finding something that still makes me smile every time I see it.

Also, I really love the fact that I bought a bike with no engineered-in obsolescence!  This stuff called Speed Metal that you crazy old guys Spin out of titanium
gives me more performance than I’ll ever need, and it will last me a lifetime. 

Sol's Garage, Lightning X parked duly therein

That’s not good Sol.  I was hoping to sell you a new bike after this interview is done. Alright then, I’ve already checked this with Neil, so what’s your view? Are the Dirac quantum operators
better than the Schrödinger waves, or is
there simply too much Heisenberg uncertainty? And what about that Lewis

Symmetry is where the hip and trendy are nowadays I believe?

Yes, SUSY. Sadly I got out of the mathematical physics game just as she was really starting to take off.  

Now then Sol, having come so far in
the worlds of Operations / Management / Numptyness / motorsport / mountaineering / cycling, just what is there left?

always a silly plan to be hatched over a beer before old age and obscurity!

a tentative plan to pick a very, very windy day to host an event in the Fens –
modelled on the Dutch ‘into the wind’ event.

And then there’s more mountaineering
in the Alps again this year. 

Perhaps a coast to coast, a Columbian cycle climb,
or renovating an old 80’s superbike? I’m going to be as young as 50 next year so I dare say that will result
in some stupidity taking place at some point during the year. As long as the
response is, “Aren’t you a bit old for that?” then I’m up for it!

Sol's Lightning X

Finally, apart from
riding your bike, what else is there?

always a stupid plan to be hatched over a beer!  I said that already: do pay attention at the back!

Finally, again, is there
a question I didn’t ask that you wish I had, and what’s the answer?

you like a free pair of Dark Energy carbon clinchers?


I never get asked that question either Sol! Many thanks for taking
the time to answer and I very much look forward to our next beer & bike flavoured get together. 

You too can follow Sol on his epic mountaineering and house-extending adventures on his twitterfacebook and instant gram