These things go in cycles.
So for some reason I spent last weekend watching way way too much cycling.
Don’t ask me why. I haven’t possessed a cycle of my own since I was ten years old. Haven’t been on a bicycle since I was fifteen. Have no intention of buying a bike anytime… well at all.
But for some reason I’m drawn to the sport like a puncture to a pneumatic tyre.
Last Sunday, the Mayor of London held his annual Ride London day. And the finalé of this is a 100 mile (169 km) professional race up through leafy Surrey into the capital city itself. BBC Television covered the race.
“Oh good” I thought “I’ll watch this, it will be over in a couple of hours”.
Did anyone spot my underestimation there? I was expecting cyclists – albeit world-class cyclists – to complete a hundred mile ride in around two hours, thus averaging a speed of 50mph (80 km/h).
Obviously, that’s impossible as the speed limit on those country lanes is 40mph: they’d have been pulled up by the traffic cops (Surrey Highway Patrol = SHiPs?)
Why my poor calculation? I guess because we the viewers see most of the race from the perspective of a cameraman mounted on the back of a motorcycle. We assume the riders are keeping up with him, rather than him slowing down. So consequently I stayed with the race for five or so hours to the finish, rather slipping the chain off my weekend.
Talking about pushbikes following their motorised upstarts takes me back to last Saturday afternoon – well spent at the local velodrome in Reading’s Palmer Park. The local club had organised an afternoon of Derny racing. Perhaps you may know this by it’s Japanese name : Keirin. In simple terms, a small motorbike (or motorbikes) are sent out to act as pacemakers.
Now, I must point out that these outriders are volunteers working for the club. What doesn’t happen is the club sneak down to the local pizza place, kidnap all the delivery boys and force them to be hunted down on their mopeds. I can’t emphasize that point too much.
So all in all I enjoyed my weekend as a cycling supporter. But, I think the suggestions made by radio genius Danny Baker should be passed onto whoever is running world cycling. (1) Riders to have hornet nests placed down the back of their shorts.(2) Pace car to play over loudspeakers that banjo/fiddle chase music you hear in films like Bonnie & Clyde.
May all your jerseys bear polka-dots.