Pro-cycling as a spectator sport lends itself to contemplation.
During an average stage of a race like the Vuelta Espana, for example, it’s not uncommon for a lull in proceedings to settle in, as the riders kick back for a couple of hours steady riding before whatever beast of a climb the race organisers have found rears up towards the end of the stage
During such a lull, the mind can begin to wander.
And so it was that recently I found myself trapped in a conversation of ever diminishing returns about Chris Froome’s elbows. I say conversation, it was more a selection of statements from my wife, setting out in no uncertain terms just how she feels about Chris Froome’s form on the bike:
“What’s going on with Froome’s elbows? That’s just weird.”
“Why are his arms like that? They look like spaghetti.”
“Do they all have arms like that? Is it because they spend all day riding bikes?”
“Do your arms look like that when you’ve got your kit on? Go and put it on, I need to check, I would hate to think you look like that.”
Just to be clear my wife likes cycling, and knows her stuff too, but Froome’s stick thin arms and protruding elbows have got her spooked. I think the thought that I might one day look like that had her nervously checking the validity of our marriage certificate. Thankfully, I managed to re-assure her that there is only one single thing that I have in common with Chris Froome: we can both ride a bike.
Furthermore, it’s safe to say that my calorific intake will always guard against skinny climbers arms and weird sticky-out elbows.
We don’t just pick on Froome though. At least once on every stage, we lapse into an inane conversation about Alberto Contador and his classic climber’s physique:
“There he is”, I’ll say, “dancing on the pedals.”
“He’s tiny, how much do you think he weighs?”
“Not much…60 kilo’s?”
“He a pipsqueak”, my wife will state derisively.
And with that, it’s always end of conversation; once he’s been identified as a pipsqueak we both know there’s not much more to say.
On the subject of diminutive Spanish cyclists, we are also prone to venture an opinion on Alejandro Valverde and his role as swarthy Spanish pantomime villain.
“Which one is Valverde”, the wife will ask, “is he the one sitting on that other guy’s wheel and doing none of the work?”
“What do you think?”, I reply, eyebrows raised.
“It shouldn’t be allowed, he should have to take his turn. Why should they do all the work while he just sits there saving his energy!”
As I said, she knows her stuff does my wife.