Today was curious. The weather forecast was pretty lousy, all the afternoon was heavy winds and rain so I couldn’t go on the long* Saturday ride that I’ve got used to in the last few weeks. I rode in to town having arranged to meet my fiancée a little later than normal so I had time to buy her Easter egg. I splashed out on a very nice one, since she’s given up chocolate for lent and seems to have struggled rather a lot with that this Lent**.
After we’d had coffee I decided to go directly home, rather than round the Isabel trail, as I’m really not a fan of 40mph winds and wanted to miss them if at all possible. The direct route takes me past a Specialized store, so since I knew I had a couple of minutes to spare, I thought I’d pop in for a bit and see how the other half lives. Interestingly, although the store was fairly busy mine was the only bicycle locked up outside. I guess their usual clientele aren’t really the transportation cycling types, more the Lycra-clad road racers. I did have to chuckle a bit when I was inside the store looking at all the expensive carbon-fibre space rockets, while still being able to see my lugged-steel £30 bike through the window. Different strokes indeed…
I got home and passed the time watching videos on YouTube. I found an absolutely cracking documentary, 1 hour 45 minutes long, about the Paris-Roubaix race on 1976. I’ve never even heard of Paris-Roubaix before, and I just could not believe what I was seeing. There was one particular cobbled section where there was the mother and father of all potholes, probably about a metre wide, and this string of riders were one after another bunny-hopping across the chasm at about 30mph! It was phenomenal!
It seems desperately unfair that those in the leading pack can’t all be called the winner, and later on I watched a 45 minute feature on the 1988 race, where a group of unknowns broke away from the fancied riders early on, and amazingly found themselves with an insurmountable lead. The race came down to two, then one of them got – of all things – a plastic bag stuck in their derailleur mechanism. When the other rider changed down and sprinted for home the poor guy was unable to change gear and absolutely helpless. Anyway, I was pretty fascinated by it all, I’d love to see it in the flesh one day.
This brings me on to the childlike daydreaming, as I have sadly reached the age where some things have become literally impossible. When you’re 10, and you watch Chris Boardman riding an out-of-this-world carbon fibre bike to Olympic gold (as I did in 1992), you can imagine yourself being in that situation and genuinely believe it to be possible one day. Sadly when you’re about to turn 34 it’s a little late to start out on certain paths in life, but I dare say the next time I’m in town I’m going to seek out the one cobbled street I know of and pretend, just for a moment, that I’m launching an attack in the latter stages the Paris-Roubaix…
*long is a relative term, as in long for me, or long for an English three speed with North Road handlebars. It’s usually ten miles or less.
**She’s a catholic, so she takes Lent seriously. I’m a godless heathen, so I tend to take it rather less seriously. This year I gave up barbecues.