Yep- another cycling blog! No, I can’t promise beautiful photos capturing the mythical and historical essence of the Grand Tours or Classics. No, I can’t promise the insightful, forensically analytical approach of the likes of the peerless INRNG or reach the literary heights our sport inspired wordsmiths such as Jean Bobet or Tim Krabbé to achieve. No, I can’t promise to be the first with the breaking news in all things velo related. No, I can’t promise astute and detailed technical breakdowns in regards the latest technological breakthroughs. So then, what on Merckx’s green earth is the point of this offering?
Simply put- it is where I record things for my own personal use. I was just reading an article summarising the highs and lows, as well as the results, of the past 2015 season and it annoyed me how many great developments that entralled or appalled me through the year had found themselves relegated to the deepest, darkest recesses of my brain, needing some kind of stimuli to bring to the fore. Basically, this blog is a testament to the fact my memory is, along with my body, approaching the outskirts of middle age.
I don’t actually expect that many people to visit here anyway (and even fewer to stay!) so please allow me to indulge myself-it is basically the 21st century version of me talking to myself in public.
Yep- another male in his (very) late 30s waxing lyrical about the greatest sport in the world. To be fair though, I was very much aware that there was a bit of cycling that happened before Bradley Wiggins and even Lance Armstrong came around. I was lucky enough to be around just as Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche were making history. In fact I can pinpoint the very moment I realised cycling was my sport:
It was Sunday 26th July, 1987. I had just turned 11 a few days before and, unusually in my house, the TV was turned to Channel 4 specifically for a sporting event. Like many houses on the island of Ireland we were watching the peloton hitting the Champs Elysees and among the mass of colours, one stood out clearly for us- the yellow of the jersey on the back of Stephen Roche. While residents of most other nations were focussing on the sprint for stage glory, we were more concerned with Roche making it over the line safely, which he did. The whole sense of occasion, the spectacle, the speed, the skill… right away I knew my allegiance to any form of ball sport (previously forcibly hoisted on me by the simple fact of growing up a young male) had been but a temporary daliance- cycling was where it was at. Even the appearance of serial opportunist and professional gabshite Charlie Haughey on the podium with Roche didn’t detract from the event I was watching.
However exposure to my new sport was limited in a pre-internet and pre-financial independence (well independent of my parents finances) age. Growing up in a semi-rural area of the north of Ireland where GAA, soccer and rugby ruled the roost as far as sports go ,meant accessing information on my chosen métier was next to impossible. I had no control of the television, and the 30 minute highlights Channel 4 showed during the Tour de France clashed with the local news (and growing up during the Troubles in Northern Ireland meant watching the news was sacrosanct). There was nothing in any of the newspapers brought home and the cycling magazines at the time were out of my price range. However I was still keen and, while the history books show that the 1988 Tour was won by Pedro Delgado and Roche was out injured, actually I won it, beating Roche in a sprint on my BMX. (The annals also fail to record that the finish had been moved from the Champs Elysees to the electricity pole in the middle of my housing estate.)
I do tweet under the name @OtisBragg and while a lot of my 140 character mini-masterpieces do deal with all things related to cycling, please note that there will be a lot of politics and other stuff there too.