In spring, as Lord Alfred Tennyson observed, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love…and cycling. As it’s been too cold of late to venture out with any real gusto I’ve started to reminisce on the last couple of two-wheeled adventures and put-my-thinking-cap on wrt the next one. Several have involved trips across La Manche to follow le maillot jaune and this made me consider whether Team Sky are looking forward to this year’s Tour de France as much as I am?
You may have run one. You probably know of someone who has run one. Undoubtedly, you will have sponsored someone who has run one. Personally, I’ve run four. Four, full-distance, official marathons of 26.2 miles, 42,195 metres and, as my legs are most likely much shorter than yours, approximately 60,000 steps. Sadly, 258 runners in last month’s Shenzen marathon in China, saw fit to not do the hard-yards and were left red-faced after being caught cheating.
The original tale, ‘Three Men in a Boat’ by Jerome K. Jerome tells of three friends rowing their way along the Thames toward Oxford. The pals consider themselves capable outdoorsmen, though they have trouble with simple outdoor survival skills and tend to find themselves holed-up in local hostelries a little too often. Setting up a tent flummoxes them, cooking on a camp stove proves way too complicated, before they eventually ditch the boat and take the train back to London.
With an anticipated twenty million of us watching the home team play our first knock-out-round match in over a decade, it’s safe to say Russia’s 2018 world cup has been a success. And even though they went out at the group stage, with a pretty ignominious one-point from a 1-1 draw with Argentina, I’d also like to highlight that this year’s tournament was another huge success for our North Sea neighbours, Iceland.
A couple of months ago a pal of mine, a half-decent middle-distance runner decided that, for his birthday treat, he would finally run a marathon. Wanting to avoid the palaver of buying an entry place, early-morning start and getting to the venue, ignoring the roaringly supportive crowds, trouble at the drink stations and having to get his completion medal framed, he simply set his garage-sited running machine to 26.2 miles, opened the door, put the fan on and ran the allotted distance.
Even though I desperately want to be European, I am British. However, as the Winter Olympics have clearly demonstrated to me, I have precious little patriotic spirit and even less national pride. The highlight of the last couple of weeks was undoubtedly Elise Christie crashing-out with nothing to show for her lifetime’s ‘sacrifice’ (and immediately committing to do the same for another four years until Beijing 2022, quickly followed by the plucky Japanese curling underdogs who consigned po-faced Eve Muirhead to sport an even longer-face than the one she wore for the eleven day-duration of her tournament.
It’s oft repeated that, in terms of sporting achievement, trophies are won in winter and collected in summer. With the ‘feel-good’ new year initiatives now well & truly in the past the hard work to get fit, or keep fit, now kicks in. The good news is that if it’s the latter you’re looking to ‘maintain’ then daily activities do indeed go some way to helping you achieve this. Walking to the shops, taking the stairs as opposed to the lift, getting a wiggle-on with the hoover, carrying the shopping home as opposed to letting Alexa call Ocado, will all do their bit for you.
OK, OK, OK, enough already. Chris Froome. Regular readers will already know what I’m going to say as it’ll come as no surprise that I still haven’t quite got over his unwarranted ‘La Toussuire’ attack on Sir Wiggo of Bradley! Chris Froome is a ruthless, opportunistic, self-centred so-and-so. Born in Kenya, these traits reared their ugly heads again as he ditched his country of birth in the blink of a lottery-funded British Olympic eye and adopted Brailsford’s ‘marginal gain’ mentality at all costs.
I don’t follow football, I support Preston North End. Boom Boom. I know I’ve used that before but it is true to say that I’m not really all that bothered about the beautiful game anymore. Mind, having said that I still felt strangely attracted to the World Cup draw for the 2018 event in Russia and I wasn’t disappointed. No, it wasn’t the leggy Soviet beauties on show, or the irony of Diego’s ‘hand of God’ placing England in such an easy group but seeing me ol’ mucker (we once shared a barber’s chair dontchaknow), Gary Lineker, betraying everything I thought he held dear.
And just to show you that cycling doesn’t have the over-competitive streak all to itself, recent revelations have rocked the usually discreet world of vowels, consonants and blanks. Yes, the dark side of competitive scrabble has raised its head and Allan Simmons, National Scrabble Championship winner, has received a three-year ban for cheating!