When he joined Cycling Weekly in the summer of 1971, Eddy Merckx was at his peak and toe clips were de rigeur.
Through into the Armstrong era, Lycra, the advent of carbon and other unquantifiable changes to the sport – as well as journalism technology – Keith Bingham has been ever-present.
Pulling a 40-year shift, the Liverpudlian is the longest-serving member of staff the magazine has seen in its 120-year history.
He has covered numerous Tours de France, Milk Races and everything in-between.
“He was the people’s writer: it’s the stories and the causes which mattered to him most, not self-glorification. He wanted to be a journalist and that’s all he has been,” Cycling Weekly editor Robert Garbutt said.
Keith, who wrote the long-running ‘Bikewatch’ column, was unrelenting in his championing of causes, persisting with stories even if fellow colleagues didn’t agree.
“One man can have an effect on Olympic planning,” Garbutt added. In the past decade alone, Keith fought for Eastway’s future and then Hog Hill. Even in the past month, he played a part in ensuring the survival of the Herne Hill velodrome and attended the new Olympic track’s opening ceremony.
From working with the BLRC to articles on the Kirklees cycling school, Keith’s work has transcended age, genre, sex and just about every cycling topic possible.
Potholes and police matters, the Tour de France and Tour of the Reservoir, hard-hitting interviews and light-hearted tales, he’s tackled everything with the same enthusiasm and integrity – and stayed relevant over five decades.
Keith also makes a memorable cameo television appearance in the High Life documentary about Robert Millar (see below), in which he manages to extract several one-word answers from the Scotsman – in a particularly unforthcoming mood – during an excruciating post-stage interview at the 1985 Tour de France.
Garbutt remembers one recent Bingham moment with particular fondness. “The cast of yesteryear was at the Helms Memorial time trial last October: Obree, Barras, Hoban. And everyone there knew Keith, he was a celebrity among the riders, better known than some of them. He was in his element with all the greats of British cycling in the past 50 years, and Keith was right among them.”
‘Bingers’ is a unique character too. Young at heart, he still comes out on lunchtime rides and provides an antidote to any in-office stress with his light-hearted jokes, stories and inimitable noises, be it a clapper, a bell or the range of comedy sounds saved on his computer.
An affable Liverpudlian, he can count on a wealth of friends, anecdotes and cycling facts from his 40 years in the business.
His fights in the field of Olympic planning have fittingly gone full circle too: maybe as a little present, the 2012 road race route goes right past his Dorking doorstep next summer.
If you see him pedalling his favourite routes around the Surrey Hills, say hello.
We hope very much that the irreplaceable Keith will be back to write a few articles here and there in the future.
Keith Bingham interviews a reluctant Robert Millar during the 1985 Tour de France
Editor’s blog: Farewell to Keith Bingham