A 90-YEAR-OLD Humshaugh man, famed for his cycling, has once again proved he is king of the road.
While Ron Longstaff has racked in trophies for cycling, including winning the Veterans Road Race World Champion in 1997, aged 70, his latest recognition comes instead for his driving ability.
Ron has now received a certificate to show his latest achievement – passing his advanced driving test with the Advanced Institute of Motorists at the end of last year.
The thorough and comprehensive test, accredited by the DVSA, is the standard of driving recognised by the police force, with the techniques used based on the UK police driving manual.
Ron, who has travelled all over Europe to race and still completes at least 150 miles on his bike per week, said he decided to do the driving test to prove he was a safe driver for his car insurance.
“Car insurance goes up as you get older. I’m 90 and there is more possibility now that I’ve passed that I am seen as a safe driver,” he explained. The test examines advanced skills such as control, observation, timing, optimum road positioning, ability to deal with unpredictable roads and other road users’ behaviour.
Ron set off from Hexham for his test before heading west for the round journey of 90 minutes, travelling on all road types from country roads to motorways. He was assessed by a police sergeant.
“I was very pleased when I got back to the car park in Hexham and the police sergeant said you’ve passed – I thought ‘excellent’,” he said. “The police sergeant was taking notes all the time and there are 23 separate sections he has to pass you on. The main thing is they rate you one, two, three or four, and I had majority ones, which I was pleased about.
“It’s not in the same league as a normal driving test at all.”
The Advanced Institute of Motorists estimated that, at 90, Ron is in the oldest 15 per cent of drivers who pass the test. But Ron is no stranger to winning when it comes to his performance on the roads, and cycling has kept him fit and alert for his age.
“People thought because of my age I wouldn’t be able to do it because it is very difficult to pass, but to me 90 is just a number,” he said.