Every Saturday the ritual begins. First the recently washed and pressed shirt. Then the shorts. The special shoes. The shades. . Looking Good. A quick peek in the mirror. maybe dwell awhile. Run the hand across the firm stomach,push down on the thighs to get a bit of circulation going. Then get the bike out. None like it. State of the art. Dream machine.Pick it up with a little finger. Onto the road. The sun now strong. Meet the others all similarly clad in the team uniform. Swing into formation, we are the pentalon. No one can beat us today .
And then its onto Richmond Park. Every weekend thousands of immaculately turned out cyclists with every muscle and bulge showing descend onto the Park and its eight mile circuit. Here its two wheels good ,four wheels forget it.
All part of the great cycling boom that has seen the membership of British Cycling double to 50,000,and estimated 15 million cyclists on the road,sales of 3.7million cycles a year. In Putney alone the number of cycle shops in the last twenty years has gone from one to five.Its not only manufacturers and shop keepers who see this as a profitable boom-which actually benefits from the recession. One in ten bikes bought is a replacement for a stolen bike. So somewhere there is at least £10m a year being made from stolen bikes. My family alone has had eight stolen. But small wonder that Sky think its cycling team is worth a £30m sponsorship check. You dont get much of Manchester United for that.
Such is the success of cycling that it is all things to men and women. Some see it as a wing of the Green movement, others as a fashion statement,others just as form of transport and exercise. With the resulting web sites- Velo Vogue,Cyclists Chic and the rest. Some purists attacking these, “This was merely the marketing of cycles wearing high heels, hot pants,bikini tops and other scanty c;clothing” moaned one. Elsewhere the slogan is big and proud.” I cycle therefore I am, Fit, Healthy and Strong”.
Elsewhere cycling is proclaimed as Movement to Move,Wind in Your Hair. A cross between Bob Dylan and Isadora Duncan.This week sees a cycling film festival at the Barbican.
Of course in the UK with our outrageous success in cycling sports we have the media heroes Pendleton,Hoy, Wiggins and Cavendish. All totally refreshing and honest after the spoilt poodle indulgence of our footballers.
In the cities with traffic, especially at rush hour going slower than any cyclist, the bike is a rational means of support., Every traffic light in the morning and at dusk is the starting gate for the next stage of the Tour de Commute. And how they go.
Cycling is like sushi ,a perfect modern fad. Its stylish, expensive, cool, upmarket and non fattening. Since many are spending over £1k on a bike when a second hand car costs much less there is also some status code going on. And the lycra style. Yum-mee,But while the well formed shank in lycra is the kind of thing to get one up in the morning ,there is also the phenomena of Mamil. Middle aged man in lycra. And thinking of the well formed shank,poised with its muscley behind and rhythmically pumping away, one has every sympathy for the nation’s teddy bear,Betjeman when he cried
I would like
To be the saddle on a bike.