Growing up, my Mum had a word for someone who was particularly lucky; ‘tinny’. If the right cards came up in a game of 500 more than a couple of times, you were ‘tinny’, if you got more than one prize in the Cup sweep, you were ‘tinny’, win a raffle you were ‘tinny’. It was a term often applied to my younger brother…but not to me. I’m a very lucky guy…but just not in a ‘Hey you just won a prize’ way. So I think it’s fair to say that I was pretty freaking surprised when I found that I was one half of the winning team in the Cycling Tips Ultimate Job competion. So now instead of staying up to ungodly hours of the morning listening to the dulcet tones of Phil and Rod and watching the French countryside try to outdo itself in a ‘which area looks the most like a fairytale’ competition…I’m actually going to be over there watching it live…and begrudgingly reporting back to you about it.
So how does it feel?
About 5 years ago I suddenly came to the crushing realisation, that I was never actually going to own a Porsche 911. For some unfathomable reason I had spent the preceding 35 years thinking that seeing as I really liked these cars…I was clearly going to one day own one. Then I suddenly realised that ‘Oh wait…that car costs more than our house did when we bought it, and has fewer bedrooms!’ Similarly last year I came to the realisation that with 3 kids under the age of 10, by the time I could afford to get everyone over to France to see Le Tour (let alone tackle some of the famed climbs) I was going to be too old and fat to actually do it. So to be suddenly told that I will actually be following the tour, on a bike and taking photos and videos is pretty amazing. But at the same time it’s a bit like someone giving me an owl as a present…sure, I’ve always wanted one…but I never really expected to get one, so now what the hell am I going to do with it?!!
Hopes and fears
Let’s start with the fears…because most people come to the internet in order to feel that at least someone out there is more worried than them.
Riding in the Alps- I’m sure most of us had an experience when we were teenagers of drinking waaay too much of an alcoholic beverage (usually a spirit), and then vomiting, and then spending the next five years feeling as though we were going to vomit every time we smelled that drink or even thought about it (Sambuca, I’m looking at you!) Basically your body says ‘Well that was freaking horrible…let’s never do that again’. Well after doing an Ironman earlier this year, I think it’s fair to say that for the last 6 months I have felt about as keen to hop back on my bike and go for a hard ride as I have been to give birth to a chair. So the prospect of suddenly reacquainting myself with cycling via a series of mythically steep hills is not filling me with confidence.
The internet- While I’m more than happy to put my musings online for my normal audience (love you Mum and Dad)…it’s quite another thing to be putting stuff up to a world of internet experts. I’ve seen content that I’ve really liked get ripped to shreds in the comments section. I’ve seen videos that would have taken ages to create, and photos that would have taken a lot of skill to pull off dismissed so cavalierly that it almost made me weep for whoever had created it, and I know that regardless of how many nice things people say about something I’ve done, it’s the person who has a go at me that really stays with me.
My hopes are thankfully a lot less angsty.
Zero responsibility- I won’t have any kids to look after, I won’t have a 9-5 to go to, and at the end of the day, no-one who reads Cycling Tips will be any worse off if my content sucks, because Lord only knows there is enough other content for them to enjoy. So all I have to do is ride, eat, sleep, take photos, make videos and write stories. Which is more than just the ‘Ultimate Job’ it’s pretty much the ‘Ultimate Life’.
Le Tour- I get to watch the tour during daylight hours. I get to see all these guys I’ve only ever seen on TV, in real life. I get to shudder when I realise how fast they actually go…and chuckle when I realise how skinny their arms really are. I get to travel to a country where cyclist aren’t treated like an unwelcome hindrance. I get to ride up hills that until now have only been spikes on an SBS course map or footage from a Sufferfest video. And I will get to see my travel companion Riley’s face fall further and further as he realises that my ‘fluent French’ is in fact just what I learnt from Pepe Le Pew as a child (look out black cats who have had some white paint fall on them!!).
For all of this I’m eternally grateful, and I can’t wait to get over there, soak it all up…and hopefully distill some of it back to you. If there are things that you would like me to talk about, then please let me know. But if you are reading or viewing any of my content for the time that we’re over there, I only ask that you remember that old saying ‘If you haven’t got anything nice to say…you’re going to feel right at home on the internet.’