Where: Mark’s Club, 46 Charles Street, Mayfair, London W1J 5EJ
When: Thursday 21 November 2019, 12-3pm
Price: Tickets are £150 and include a glass of Champagne and a three-course lunch with wine
It’s a moment few British sports fans will ever forget: when, on 3 August 2012 at the London Olympics, Victoria Pendleton won gold in the women’s keirin track cycling, beating Australian rival Anna Meares in an explosive final, before wrapping herself in the Union Jack and pedalling a lap of honour around the Velodrome. A few days later she retired from the sport, having added a silver medal for the sprint to her Olympic tally – her first gold was picked up in Beijing four years earlier. She remains one of our finest sportspeople. Since then, Pendleton has reinvented herself as an amateur jockey, coming fifth in the Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham in 2016 – only a year after sitting on a horse for the very first time. She has also taken up surfing, hitting the water in Costa Rica and becoming patron of The Wave Project charity, which uses the sport as a therapy for children to tackle anxiety.
In her spare time, she cycles off-road, rides motorbikes around the UK and skis. But despite all her sporting success, she remains a down-to-earth individual – and a charismatic interviewee. Pendleton will be talking about her challenges and ambitions at our latest Traveller’s Tales event at Mark’s Club, the beautifully decorated private-members’ club in Mayfair. She’ll be in good company – one of the main criteria for membership here is to be interesting, although sportswear is not permitted. The Champagne reception, three-course lunch and Q&A session is sponsored by Longines, the bravura Swiss watchmaker known by its winged hourglass logo. The brand has a special connection to the turf: after being founded in the 1830s, it became the chronograph of choice among the USA’s horse-racing fraternity, retaining its world-class equestrian relationship to this day as a result of its incredibly reliable accuracy. Under starter’s orders…
We chatted to Victoria ahead of the lunch…
Who are your adventure heroes?
‘I always wanted to be Anneka Rice. She kept herself busy, didn’t she? More recently, when I was learning to ride a motorbike, my inspirations were Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor. There’s a real sense of freedom with motorcycling; you have to be hyperaware and pay attention to every little detail.’
Favourite parts of Britain?
‘This summer I spent a lot of time exploring places I’d never been to. I motorbiked through the Cotswolds into the Brecon Beacons and then the Forest of Dean. There are so many lovely villages to find.’
Your top hotel in the UK?
‘Lime Wood in the New Forest is ridiculously good.’
As a fairly new surfer, where’s next?
‘I recently went to Nosara in Costa Rica, which is a beautiful place. The water’s warm and much of the coastline is protected, so all you can see is jungle. I want to visit Nicaragua next, which everyone says is even more unspoilt, and Peru – it looks wild, so I’ll need to build up my skills first. Surfing is all about patience and working with nature – you’re never truly in control.’
As a vegan, do you have any foodie tips?
‘My go-to restaurant is Farmacy in London’s Notting Hill; I adore it. And I use the cookbook all the time – there’s a delicious vegan chocolate-chip-cookie recipe.’
The best horse-racing track?
‘The July course at Newmarket is nice and intimate, and good if you’re not a regular race-goer – it’s not too overwhelming. I do bet, as I like to have a ticket in my hand, but only a couple of pounds each way.’
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