I was never good with numbers when it came to school. I was terrible at maths and even worse when it came to getting them off the girls I fancied.
But if only I’d known back then that simple maths such as calculating percentages, multiplication and division are three essential tools when it comes to riding in the gruppetto at a Grand Tour, maybe I’d have sharpened my pencil and got down to some hard sums. Instead, I was busy trying to impress my mates with the words I could spell on my calculator (hello is 01134 and then turn it upside-down.)
My inability to do basic sums struck me one day at this year’s Giro d’Italia. In a state of panic and exhaustion, I asked the rider beside me if he had any clue what the time limit was.
“Sure,” he went. “It’s 18 per cent and the stage will take around four hours, twenty-five minutes.”
“Oh right, cool. Thanks man.”
What? Obviously I had no idea what he was talking about. Who can figure out 18% of anything, let alone four hours 25 minutes. In my confused, tired head I had a sum that looked like this:
40 x 60 x 25 divided by 0.18 x 100 + 240km = 230947239857234123047minutes
Frankly, I think that any rider who can do that off the top of their head should do something else other than just ride a bike. It turned out there there was no need for panic. The gruppetto survived another day.