The Escape Artist: Life from the Saddle

Matt Seaton

The story of one man’s passion for amateur cycling, and his retreat from that obsession as real life barged roughly in.

For a time there were four bikes in Matt Seaton’s life, a training bike, a track bike, a mountain bike and a racing bike. His evenings were spent ‘doing the miles’ on the roads between South London and the North Downs. Weekends were taken up with Club meetings, road races and time trials – rides that took him to cold village halls at dawn and out onto the empty bypasses of southern England.

Cycling had become a passion that bordered on possession. When he was in the saddle real life remained at a comfortable distance. But this flight from responsibility could not last. Life came flooding in with his marriage to Ruth Picardie, the birth of their twins and Ruth’s brutal illness. Today the bikes that remain are gathering dust on top of the road grime from their last rides, museum pieces of a life distantly remembered.

‘The Escape Artist’ is brilliantly observed, at once a celebration of amateur sport, a social history of the bicycle, an honest account of adult responsibilities and a quiet hymn to the beauty of cycling for its own ends.

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