A top night out was had by Rouleur a few weeks back in the company of writers, photographers, film makers and a professional cyclist, all well known to the magazine’s readership.
The day progressed from book launch (including copious alcohol consumption) to restaurant (more of the same) to cabaret bar (where both drinking and smoking seemed obligatory).
We staggered out of there at three in the morning, leaving the pro rider in the company of hardier souls, and felt suitably dreadful the following day.
That very same rider won a major race last weekend. You may wonder how that is possible.
Public perception of an athlete’s lifestyle is a world apart from reality. They are not monks. They are fit-as-feck young people with powers of recovery we could only dream of. Most – not all, by any means – need a bit of normality now and then to counteract the ludicrous demands of being a professional athlete, yet race fans would rather think of them as clean-as-a-whistle puritans, totally dedicated to the sport to the exclusion of all else.
Remember the Daily Mirror making a big hoo-ha having caught Bradley Wiggins on camera sucking on a crafty Marlboro on holiday post-Tour? A shocking example for our young people, wasn’t it?
Balls. What the man does in private is exactly that: private. Now go stick your lens somewhere else.
There was a famously messy night of drinking in the middle of the Tour of Britain a couple of years back, involving journalists, mechanics and a few riders. The riders were the last men standing. They may not have passed a breathalyser test the following morning, but they could manage a bike race all right.
Unprofessional? Maybe. Understandable? Certainly. It’s approaching the end of a long, hard season of dedication and suffering. They are only human, lest we forget.
There are, of course, some who wouldn’t dream of necking so much as a pint of foaming ale mid-race, let alone mid-season.
Should you be intending to hang out at the Flat Cap and Whippet in Yorkshire over the first weekend in July, hoping against hope that Cav or Froomey might drop in for a swift half, dream on. That level of commitment requires abstinence and denial on another level altogether.
Just don’t be hard on those that fail to meet your lofty ideals. They’re only human.
STAT’S THE WAY, UH HUH UH HUH
5 – Number of sprinters ripping it up for Giant-Shimano: Kittel, Degenkolb, and now Mezgec, Van Rensburg and Arndt, winner of stage 3 at the Dauphiné.
2 – Months since Team Sky took a sprint victory, Ben Swift at Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
Adam Hansen dumps his bidon and takes on a beer at the Tour of Turkey. He’s Australian, you know.
Remember Adam Hansen? Yep, same guy. He’s at it again, this time on Dutch Corner at Alpe d’Huez. Down the hatch, Lumpy.
Human, by The Human League, Sheffield’s finest – apart from Pulp. And the Arctics. And Cabaret Voltaire. And ABC (Martin Fry is a Rouleur subscriber). Ah, never mind. Reet proper.
June 4 – Plonkolan
May 28 – Attack of the Colombians
May 21 – Aru!