I’m not entirely sure what this blog is for or about. Perhaps it’s nothing more than a record of my year, perhaps it will just turn out to be about cycling and the pleasure I get from that. I will just wait and see.
It was the Tour de France that got me into cycling – but it was a slow burner.
I had bikes as a boy (when they were my only means of transport) but moved on to motorbikes and cars once I was 17. For some reason my attention was caught by Le Tour somewhere in the 1980s – I remember Greg LeMond’s win in 1986 and I was astonished by a sport which could be so beautiful and brutal.
I still didn’t have a bike at the time so it was an interest only as a follower from afar but I was hooked. I bought a mountain bike in the late 90s (at the time I bought bikes for my sons) but cycling was pretty well limited to the badlands that are Longleat Centre Parcs.
My interest in Le Tour was reinforced by the phenomenon that was Lance Armstrong. His story caught my imagination like little before or since. It turns out not to be quite as he told it (!) and it is, of course, not possible to condone the lying, cheating and bullying – but as far as I remember, it was him pushing the pedals round and he deserves a special place in my memories for that alone.
My first trip out to the alps to watch Le Tour was in 2003 when Philip (local GP, friend and cycling guru) and I saw them start a stage in Sallanches and then again in Borg d’Oisans as they climbed Alpe d’Huez and up on the Col de la Ramaz. I was completely unable to ride my mountain bike up Ramaz and that led me to buying a road bike (with a Fort steel frame) which I still have even though it has since been joined by 20 other bikes of various sorts.
I went out with the local cycling group from about 1998, but still didn’t really click as a cyclist until 2010 after I bought a carbon framed Giant TCR2 (£477 from Ebay).
I expect this all makes me the perfect cliche MAMIL but I was wondering if I still qualified for the ‘MA’ bit having reached 60. I checked on the internet and although there were a few places that defined middle age as ending up to 64, the consensus seemed to be that middle age ran from 40 to 60. One way or the other, it was clear that I would not be a MAMIL for ever unless the upper limit for middle age kept pace with me growing older. So, I am happily an OMIL – an old man in lycra.
By way of a bit of further background, I am no sort of athlete and am more enthusiastic than talented. Perhaps that is one of the blog’s purposes – to celebrate what enthusiasm and effort can make up for in the talent department.
I seem to have been born with almost no fast twitch muscle fibres so cannot sprint but I do have endurance and – with effort – am able to keep my weight under reasonable control. If I were a horse, I would be a one-paced stayer. That is reflected in my cycling which tends to involve longer rides and pointing the front wheel uphill.
As far as my palmares highlights go, I did the Etape du Tour in 2013, the Wiggle Dragon Ride (Gran Fondo) in 2014 and the first Velothon Wales in 2015. As part of my 60th year celebrations I completed L’Eroica (the original one in Tuscany) and then, on the drive back, stopped over near Bédoin in Provence to take on the Club des Cinglés du Mont-Ventoux challenge which requires riding up the mountain by each of the three roads, in a single day. Perhaps I’ll talk about those at some later date.
I am now toying with new challenges for this year; favourite is a go at everesting, of which there will certainly be more later – a great opportunity to obsess about place, time, weight, training, nutrition …
Weight this morning (a beastly) 66.6kg. Yesterday was 67.4kg.