The new (2020) pro cycling season is nearly upon us. I know this because social media is chock full of riders who’ve signed for new teams being forced (in adherence to an obscure and oddly pleasing rule) to train wearing their old team kit and on their old team bike until the end of the calendar year.
This sort of nonsense is what pro cycling is all about. No sport does crackpot rules like cycling.
The new season, of course, for we fans, raises scheduling issues that need addressing.
If you’ve ever tried to remain married, raise a pair of well-balanced children, and deliver a passable impression of competence in the work-place while also watching all the big bike-races on the pro cycling calendar, you’ll understand the meaning of the word “busy.”
Though, of course, we don’t say busy anymore; that’s old fashioned. We say time-crunched. Or clock-poor. Or something.
Problem is this modern, global, twenty-four-seven lifestyle is not factoring in the bit about bike racing. I’ve crunched the numbers and discovered that we cycling fans need to live a super-modern twenty-eight-ten lifestyle.
Only by eeking twenty-eight hours from every day of a ten-day week can we hope to keep across a one-day classics campaign, three grand tours, five monuments, and other sundry week-long (seven day…not ten day) stage races, whilst retaining some semblance of a life beyond it.
And if the Gregorian calendar cannot be bent to our will only one other thing would free things up: Minor injury.
You would think, as a cyclist with a penchant for downhill Strava segments, that breaking a collarbone would be easy. It’s the standard cyclist’s injury. Ten-a-penny. I’d settle for a broken wrist, an ankle – anything, really, that might incapacitate me for a very specific three-week period to coincide with a Grand Tour.
A handy short-term crock – bad enough to absolve me of any responsibility for anything that doesn’t involve watching bike racing, but not so bad that I can’t operate a mouse, a keyboard, and a coffee machine – and at a time of my choosing.
As we speak I am going about my business in the usual way; attacking apexes, seeking out gravel, and riding with scant regard for potholes. And you just know my luck will be out.
I cannot get a break.
To give my two young sons credit (aged 6 and 9) they understand my plight and have done their best to help. They like an after-dinner wrestle, you see, and are not averse to launching their combined body weight at my undefended limbs.
Rather like the scene in Escape to Victory, when the goalie’s arm is deliberately broken across the slats of his bed by his fellow POW’s to allow Sly Stallone to take his place in the team, I think to myself: “good work lads…just make it a clean break.”
Try as they might, they just can’t generate the required force.
And so I’m left, healthy and bereft. Forced to stain my conscience by secretly following the bike racing on work’s time. I never wanted it to be this way. Damn my forty-three year old bones and their impressive structural integrity!
(Top Image: via pixabay.com)