Many wives and girlfriends often wonder what exactly you spend your time talking about when you are out on a bicycle with your friends for three or four hours. Over dinner the cyclist is usually the quiet member of the family, slightly zombified after their days training and depending upon the intensity, a distant stare might be all that’s present. Put them on a bike, however, in the midst of a group of like minded individuals and they turn into a nattering cacophony of lycra clad grannies.
So what exactly is it that is being spoken about in such animated terms ?
At this time of year at least a quarter of the spin has to be spent dissecting the Tour. What really happened to Contadors bike ?, what do you make of Nibali ?, did you see Valverde sitting on and then attacking your man ?, should Sky have brought Wiggins ?
Then it turns to dissecting the most recent goings on during the Sunday spin. Who’s flying ?, are they going racing ?, did you see the spin ‘Nana’ had up on Facebook ? and all the strava KOM’s ?
Swiftly it turns to the close call with a dog and a motorbike before returning to where you’re going on holiday, how much you weigh and what type of water bottle cage holds the bottle most securely.
Then one of the lads has a story about his trip to the Tour in Yorkshire. Tens of thousands of people jammed into a train station. A guy on a ladder with a loud haler directing all those heading to the tour to follow him in two orderly lines. A shed door being opened to display a number of empty train carriages all of which filled up quickly.
A last carriage with standing room only. A door being opened to reveal eight big Scottish guys with denim jackets, tattoos and beards. A Carrick man standing in the door and calling out before entering ‘Are any of ye in handcuffs ?’. The reply came ‘not all of us’. As the Carrick entourage entered a Scottish voice called out ‘Did ye ever see Con Air ?’
A two hour train journey resulted in eight big Scottish men who had never before seen a bicycle race becoming best friends with a group of lifelong cycling fans from Carrick.
Arriving at the stage finish area a crowd gathers around the team buses. The team NettApp mechanic calls out to his Directeur Sportif for assistance in explaining to the Carrick fans why Sam wasn’t selected for the Tour. The team riders enjoy the banter.
Jens Voigt signs every autograph and stands for every photo until finally he has to run after the Team bus which has left without him. Andy Schleck steps from the bus, gives an interview and steps back on without signing a single autograph, and is berated by Fabian Cancellara for it.
Dave Brailsford chats to fans and calls riders out of the bus two to the front, two to the rear to sign autographs for all the fans dressed in their Sky team jerseys.
A BMC Manager invites fans to stand in under the bus canopy out of the rain. It all makes what you see on TV feel less unreachable and more human.
Riders roll through in the group and I find myself chatting to a cyclist, turned runner, turned cyclist. He remarks on the friendly nature of running events where he has even received a few kisses on the cheek when meeting female competitors before the race. ‘I never got a kiss at the ESB in Carrick on a Sunday morning’ he says with a slight look of longing mixed with relief.