Cycling at my level is essentially an excuse to go out and shoot the breeze with a few mates. Sure, the riding is important, but so is the chance to spend a couple of hours in good company telling a few stories and comparing bikes.
But there is one – The Raconteur – in every group, who has taken socialising to a professional level.
Not only is this friend of yours gregarious, outgoing, and full of fun, he seems to be one of those people to whom things happen: he gets in scrapes, meets interesting people, and around every corner there seems to lurk the next adventure.
When you’re out on the bike with him he will regale you with his seemingly endless supply of anecdotes and tall tales.
He’ll give you episodes of run-ins with angry motorists; collisions with bollards, traffic islands and gooseberry bushes; survival situations atop alpine passes; mechanical failures in remote parts of Scotland; and a cast list of characters so outlandish that it’s tempting to think he might be making some of this up (he wouldn’t be…would he?).
For example, I found myself, mid-ride recently, passing comment on the Colombian enigma that is Nairo Quintana. The Raconteur had a view.
Quintana? Oh yes, nice fella actually…
Now, my friend is from Cumbria, in the north of England, and a pretty remote part of Cumbria too. It’s fair to say that he and Nairo Quintana are poles apart; their paths unlikely to cross in a social situation
A few years back the Tour of Britain rolled out from Carlisle, in the North of England, through high winds and driving rain and in the direction of the twenty percent gradients of Honister Pass.
Being the local expert and always keen to share a bit of local knowledge, our friend went into full raconteur mode, gained the trust of the diminutive Columbian as he warmed up – a captive audience – and passed on some sage advice about what to expect from the prevailing weather conditions and the gear ratios he might need on the climbs.
The way he tells it, Quintana was fretting and fussing about the day ahead and had his nerves calmed by this dose of no-nonsense Cumbrian insight; this passing of local knowledge across barriers of culture and language was key to Quintana’s good performance that day.
In fact, you would be forgiven for assuming that our mate is now on Quintana’s Christmas card list and the invite to his next family gathering in Columbia is in the post, such was his apparent gratitude.
Coming from some, a story like that might seem far-fetched and self-indulgent, but from our friend The Raconteur it sounds plausible.
It’s probably about 75% true
Haha this is so funny! I’ve definitely met the raconteur, and all I’m bursting to say is “…you’re so full of shit!” 🙂
Thanks…yep, that’s true, but lets be honest, we all like a good story, even if it’s only 75% true.
Check out the Bernard Thevenet story here…I know this one really IS true: http://ragtimecyclist.com/2013/10/12/biking-behaviour-part-3-the-young-buck-and-the-old-timer/
I really love these posts man. Always put a smile on my face. Thank you.
Thanks bgddy, very generous of you, if it makes people smile I can’t ask for more than that 🙂
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A few years ago I ran into Joe Dombroski (also Team Sky) south of Steamboat Springs, CO the day after he had to drop out of the Pro Cycling Challenge because of nose bleeds. I was driving (bike on rack) and came upon a thin lad in full regalia with, of course, a bunch of letters down his side and recognized him immediately. Also being from northern Virginia, I had to say hello, and he was kind enough to stop and chat for a while. He commented at one point that it was sorta stupid to be out training on his full race bike with tubulars and NO sag support, but he had to get his training in. Pretty sure I still have the photos I took of him.
Also ran into Tejay van Garderen in Boulder at a restaurant the week after he dropped out of the Tour de Romandie when a branch fell and hit him in the face (hmmm, there’s a theme here). He still had bandaids on his nose. The next day I came upon him riding on the Ute Highway north of town, obviously on a recovery day (cause I could actually — barely — catch him). He recognized me and said “Hey, how ya doing?”. I said hello and then commented that I’m going to drop back now cuz I can’t keep up with you. He glanced down at his power meter (probably thinking “what, not even at this output?”) and then said OK and took off.
So, pros beware, if you get hurt, there’s a good chance I’ll run into you within the week.
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Haha, sounds like you can’t move for pro-cyclists – and yes, you’re clearly a curse!
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