Gun violence, in my little corner of Lancashire, is rife. As far as I can tell it’s largely gang-related. The Barbour jacketed crew on one side, and an assortment of grouse, snipe and pheasant on the other.
It’s pretty one-sided.
In autumn and winter, as I cycle the country lanes, the sounds of gunshot and the panicked flapping of wings pepper the air. Sometimes I can all but feel the force of the shots whizzing by. I duck involuntarily. I wince, expecting to take one for the team.
My team being the grouse, snipe, and pheasant, of course.
And as I pedal on, my mind wanders to the only cycling related gunshot/hunting anecdote I know: back in 1987 Greg Lemond, reigning Tour de France champion, was shot, accidentally, by a relative while out hunting.
As reported by the LA Times he was “hit in the lower back and flank and sustained the wounds from a far range.”
Do humans have flanks?
I would have said animals have flanks and humans have, well… sides. Maybe Greg’s sides have a particularly deer like quality? It’s easy to imagine that back in 1987 a rug made from the pelt of Greg Lemond was a highly sought-after piece of American cycling memorabilia.
I have to really work hard on that part of my brain that joins dots together and comes up with conspiracies to remember that Bernard Hinault was in no way involved in this story. Also, I don’t have access to the kind of hot-shot lawyers required when accusing Bernard Hinault* of shooting Greg Lemond.
The only other hunting related anecdote I know involves Dick Cheney accidentally shooting one of his quail hunting friends in the face back in 2006.
Problem is, once I’ve ridden fifty or sixty miles out in the cold my mind starts to wander and play tricks. Whatever thoughts, songs, or whimsical five-hundred-word blog posts I’ve been mulling over tend to coalesce into a single, patchwork narrative, spanning characters, time, and logic.
And so I sit, post ride, with a cup of green tea and a massive cheese sandwich, utterly convinced that sometime in the last thirty years Bernard Hinault snuck up on Greg Lemond, shot him, and began to harvest his pelt, only to be discovered by a well camouflaged Dick Cheney who defended his country’s honour (and Lemond’s flank) by returning fire in the direction of Bernard Hinault’s face.
And then I quickly Google ‘good lawyer in Lancashire’ just to cover myself.