-First of all, the Olympics. Amazing. I am going to be gutted when it’s all over on Sunday. Watching grumblers and naysayers transformed to beaming enthusiasts of the Double Trap or 10 metre synchronised diving has been great. And Team GB is flying, I don’t think I have ever shouted so much at the TV in excitement. Staging the Olympics is very expensive, to put it mildly, and there is an argument that the money should have been spent elsewhere, but it’s here, so we might as well enjoy it. It’s also impossible to quantify in financial terms the inspirational effect on the World of watching these incredible athletes compete at the highest level. I’m loving every minute.
-And so I keep training. On Monday evening I was propositioned by a complete stranger whilst cycling laps of Regent’s Park Outer Ring. This is the only place near to me in London where you can enjoy a fairly unbroken ride at a good speed and it’s popular with serious looking peddlers, on expensive machines. I’m not the former, nor do I possess the latter, but I dutifully sweat away on my creaky old workhorse, putting down the miles.
I’m always amazed that professional cyclists riding in peleton don’t crash more often, and I am fascinated by the technique of drafting (sitting behind another rider to benefit from the reduced air resistance) and the self-sacrifice of the ‘domestiques’ who expend their own legs, and chance of glory, to keep the race pace high for the intended winner of their team. Stuart Hayes is the unsung hero whose selflessness enabled the Brownlee brothers to begin the final stage of their Olympic triathlon at the front of the pack with fresher legs.
It seems to be accepted practice to ride in mini-peletons in Regent’s Park; cycling around and around in silence with someone you’ve never met before sticking to you like glue. Following, or leading, someone of a similar pace does give added impetus to your ride but I’m not sure you if you are meant to acknowledge the other person vocally in anyway. It’s an etiquette minefield. Perhaps a simple ‘Cheers!’ when you peel off for home would do. Or how about the slightly bolder ‘Good riding!’ If you go any further than this it’s going to sound dangerously like flirting. So, having ridden a few laps of the park with my new silent cycling buddy on Monday, we both happened to leave the park for Camden Parkway at the same time. I was pondering this etiquette dilemma when he looked back over his shoulder and said ‘I’m going for a circuit of Hampstead Heath now. Want to come?’
I was shocked. Firstly because conversations between strangers are sadly lacking in London and secondly because he had hijacked my thought processes and gone straight to a stage I didn’t even know existed. I was at the end of my training time and craving sustenance, so I declined his offer, but on reflection I was quite touched by the genuine friendliness of his proposition. As an alternative he may also have said, ‘would you like to be my friend?’
-Come September, hopefully I can go faster than this...