Thursday, 10 January 2008

Roly's Tour Diary

July 2007

Until yesterday, TV coverage of the Tour was exceptionally tedious. Don't get me wrong, I like proper cycling but that programme they keep watching just can't compared with Dogs with Jobs or Animal Planet. So I was dozing nicely when she suddenly shouted “Someone get that damn dog off the course!”

I glanced up to see some brainless labrador wandering among the riders then Marcus Burghardt ran straight into him.

A very embarrassing incident. That dog was definitely in breach of regulations. It wasn't wearing a number or a helmet and everybody knows you should wear both during a race. What was he even doing there? He'd be a hopeless climber - far too portly (although I suspect he'd have a momentum advantage on the downhills).

I blame the owner. It wasn't lardy-boy's fault that he wandered amiably among the frantic competitors. No doubt he could see that crumb of power bar which I spotted by the opposite kerb.

He wore a sheepish “Ooops sorry mate. Am I in trouble?” look as Burghardt sprawled on the tarmac. Just as well Burghardt wasn't seriously injured.

My extremely mean owner keeps me on a very tight lead at races or if there's food lying about at nose level. You know the sort of thing, dead seagull, horse manure, half-eaten burgen, the odd chip - all very desirable stuff. She's very boring.

No doubt they'll be glued to the box again this evening but I prefer the real thing. I remember the road races. Full days out in the fresh air, food, long walks, stopping for her to hand a bottle or two, a fragment of banana bar if I was lucky and then the joyous greeting at the end.

What cyclist who's just ridden 60-80 miles doesn't welcome an exhuberant springer spaniel reception party? Forget the pecks on the cheek from the dolly girls on the podium - my welcomes much more effusive and the exactly the same if he'd finished 40th or 1st.

I don't get out cycling much these days. The last time we went mountain biking in the Forest, I beat them on the climbs and I don't think it went down too well. The words fat and old spring to mind while I am ripped and in my prime.

Sex and food excepted, there's nothing to compare with the exhilaration of racing alongside the lead bike at full pelt, ears aerodynamically flapping in the wind.

They haven't taken me for some time though, ever since I made the wrong turn at a forest junction and went off with the wrong bike for several miles. The guy had to turn round and take me back to my people. Course, I couldn't explain it had been a sharp left and I was blinded by my ears at the crucial moment.

So cycling expeditions these days are a bit tame - a quick one down the cyclepath to the Farm Market and back AND I still beat her on the uphills, which occasionally has attracted comments from pedestrians.

She keeps talking about wanting to see Chablis and drink Tignes (or was it the other way round?) and I've got my own EU passport now.

I live in hope. I'll show 'em who's boss on those climbs.