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Test 1 / 25

Artist Peter Fuller talks about his hobby

There’s a popular idea that artists are not supposed to be into sport, but mountain biking is a huge part of my life. It gets me out of my studio, and into the countryside. But more importantly, racing along as fast as you can leaves you no time to worry about anything that’s going on in your life. You’re too busy concentrating on not crashing. The only things you pay attention to are the pain in your legs and the rocks on the path in front of you.

I’m in my sixties now, but I started cycling when I was a kid. In the summer my friends and I would ride our bikes into the woods and see who was brave enough to go down steep hills, or do big jumps. The bikes we had then weren’t built for that, and often broke, so I used to draw pictures of bikes with big thick tyres that would be strong enough for what we were doing. They looked just like modern mountain bikes. However, it wasn’t until many years later that someone actually invented one. By the 1980s, they were everywhere.

At that time I was into skateboarding. I did that for a decade until falling off on to hard surfaces started to hurt too much. Mountain biking seemed a fairly safe way to keep fit, so I took that up instead. I made a lot of friends, and got involved in racing, which gave me a reason to train hard. I wanted to find out just how fit and fast I could get, which turned out to be fairly quick. I even won a couple of local races.

In the end I stopped racing, mainly because I knew what it could mean to my career if I had a bad crash. But I still like to do a three-hour mountain bike ride every week. And if I’m out cycling in the hills and see a rider ahead, I have to beat them to the top. As I go past I imagine how surprised they would be if they knew how old I am.

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Peter says he returned to cycling after several years
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Test 2 / 25

Jacques Cousteau: A Remarkable Man

Jacques-Yves Cousteau was an explorer, ecologist, filmmaker, inventor, and conservationist. He was a man who spent nearly his whole life underwater exploring the hidden depths of the ocean and who did more to educate the world about the mysteries of the deep sea than any other scientist before or since. He was born in June 1910 in the village of Saint-André-de-Cubzac, in southwestern France. Jacques was a sickly boy and spent much of his time in bed, reading books and dreaming about a life at sea.

In 1920, Jacques’ family moved to New York, and he was encouraged to start swimming to build up his strength. It was the beginning of his fascination with water, and the more he learnt through his own experiences, the more passionate he became about “looking through nature’s keyhole.” Nevertheless, his career in underwater exploration came about by accident.

After entering France’s naval academy and travelling around the world, he was involved in an almost fatal car accident that left him seriously injured with two broken arms. He began swimming in the Mediterranean Sea to strengthen his arm muscles as part of his recovery process and rediscovered his love for the ocean. Cousteau developed a pair of underwater breathing apparatus that allowed him to stay underwater for long periods. His experiments led to the development of the first Aqua-Lung, which was a huge commercial success.

During World War II, he worked for the French Resistance and experimented with underwater photographic equipment. He helped get rid of German mines and was awarded the Legion D’Honneur and the Croix de Guerre medals for his bravery. In 1942, he filmed his first underwater film Sixty Feet Down. It was 18 minutes long and entered the Cannes Film Festival.

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