AFTER 53 years, his total mileage exceeds the distance between the Earth and the Moon ... but the ride is over for veteran cyclist Dave Brown.

The 70-year-old took part in his first time trial in 1955 but, around 300,000 miles later, he brought his competitive days to an end in late September when he participated in his final race – on the same road course where it all began near Garstang.

Brown, who has been keeping the sport in the news since 1978 in his role as the Lancashire Telegraph’s cycling columnist, is far from ready to step away from the sport altogether and will still be seen out and about on his bike near his Clayton-le-Dale home.

But nothing lasts forever and Brown decided that the time had come to retire – albeit for the second time.

He had spells away from the sport in his younger days – initially tempted by the lure of a motorbike before the birth of his children and two years working in the Netherlands – and initially retired for good in 1999.

“That seemed a nice time to finish,” said Brown, who is a member of North Lancashire Road Club and has been racing for 30 of the 53 years since he began.

“I did retire from racing in agreement with my wife, who had a lot of aggravation with me training, and I could understand that.

“We mutually agreed that I would finish racing. I was still riding about but that was different.

“But unfortunately my wife died in October 2003, so I had to look at my life then and decided that I’d get back to competing, which I did for five years.

“But now it just seems a good time at 70 because I do stress my body.

“When I’m racing, I don’t just go a little bit faster. The norm is to go 10mph faster.

“You do stress your body and I think there’s come a time at 70 when I shouldn’t be pushing it as hard as that.”

A fervent fan of road racing ahead of the increasingly fashionable track element of the sport, Brown never reached the absolute elite but competed in a range of events from 10-mile races to 12-hour endurance tests during his career.

Completing 25 miles in under an hour and 100 miles in under four hours remain the achievements he is most proud of – he even repeated the first feat after his 70th birthday.

And, for a man who admits he has no desire whatsoever to keep fit and hates gyms, he is still remarkably driven.

This year alone, he has done 1,500 miles of training in his garage, and he would not retire until he had raced in each cycling region in England and Wales.

Most people would have been content years ago to sit back and watch the younger generations of their family make their way in sport.

Instead, Brown even used words from his grandchildren as inspiration to increase performance levels in his advancing years.

“Come on Grandad, zoom faster,” was the simple message taped to his handlebars.

And it proved effective, with Brown still winning awards in his eighth decade.

“We have a national system in cycling, like a handicap system,” he said.

“The set time for a 40-year-old over 25 miles is 1hr 6mins. When you get to my age it’s about 1hr 22mins 30secs for a 70-year-old.

“I did 57mins 20secs this year, so I beat my age standard by 25mins 10secs.

“We have a little competition at the club for the person who beats their own age standard by the biggest margin. I’ve won that several times.”

That he has continued for so long proves his love for cycling is still as strong as it was almost 60 years ago.

“I very much have a passion for the sport,” he said.

“When I passed my scholarship - as they used to call it - or my 11 plus, my dad bought me a bike.

“That was precious to me. I’ve just never stopped riding a bike. I fell in love with the sport.

“At that time I lived in a newsagents’ shop in Montague Street in the centre of Blackburn.

“But I was very quickly out into the Ribble Valley and I just loved the countryside, pedalling up to Settle and Ribblehead.

“I joined the cycling touring club in 1954, when I was 15, and used to go on club runs all over the north of England.

“From there I developed very quickly into racing. That’s always been my favourite side of it, the competitive side.

“To be honest I’m still just as keen now.

“And I’ve been lucky, I’ve kept healthy. All the things that are wrong with me are because I’ve been falling off bikes!”

Brown has already sold one bike, although he has no intention of relinquishing the one that produced his fastest ever ride - 29mph over 10 miles.

And he will now concentrate his efforts on his various administrative roles in cycling.

He said: “I joined the North Lancashire Road Club in 1954 and I’m still in it in 2008. I’m actually the president and the chairman of the club now.

“Also I attend various other cycling-related organisations, which is all part of the scene for me.

“I’m on the district committee and one of my jobs is measuring courses for time trials.

“We’ve come up with the possibilty of a 100-mile course in Cumbria near Keswick and Cockermouth, so that’s my next mission.

“But there are several laps so I don’t have to measure out the whole 100 miles!”

So, through wind and rain, he will trundle round Cumbria to once more serve the sport he holds so dear to his heart.

Britain’s Beijing cyclists may take the glory, but their success just would not have been possible without people like Dave Brown.

Highlight of career If I had to single one out it was beating four hours for 100 miles.

When that was beaten in the 1950s, it was a very similar timescale to Roger Bannister beating the four-minute mile.

When the first cyclist beat four hours for 100 miles, the times came down very similarly.

It was 1995 before I did it, but it was the only time I ever finished a bike race in tears because I could tell I was just beating it. It was a few seconds under but it was good enough.

2008 target - number one I turned 70 in June and I set myself two main targets for this year.

One was to beat the hour for 25 miles, which is a very good standard for anyone starting cycling and time trialling.

Many people race all their lives and never beat the hour, so it is a good target to achieve.

I had done it many times under the hour but I wanted to do it aged 70.

I turned 70 on June 3 and about four days later I did 59 minutes.

Then a couple of weeks later I did 57 minutes.

2008 target - number two The controlling body for time trials is called Cycling Time Trials (CTT).

That’s a national body across England and Wales and the whole of England and Wales is broken up into 21 different areas.

At the start of this year I’d raced in 17 of those areas so I went down to East Anglia to get one I’d never raced in in May and then I had a little trip in July and did three areas.

I’ve now actually raced in every area of England and Wales. That was a nice little objective.

Total miles There is an organisation called the 300,000 mile club. I don’t know how many members it has, probably a few hundred.

But it’s a very select organisation and you’ve got to be able to prove to them that you’ve done 300,000 miles. I think I’ve done it but I haven’t got enough records.

I’ve done about 300,000, certainly the top side of a quarter of a million.

I’ve done as far as to the moon - but not back again!