I definitely call myself a couch potato when it comes to cycling. In fact I don’t even like riding a bicycle – at all. I was brought up riding horses on our farm in southern Tasmania. I first sat on a horse when I was 4 weeks old, and won my first ribbon at our local show aged 5.
However I am a cycling tragic. My ex-husband took up cycling – full on, as with everything he “took up”. He passed on his love of cycling to No.1 Son. There followed frosty Sundays watching junior road racing in central Victoria, and hot summer evenings at the Bendigo velodrome while our little darlings raced their hearts out.
Eventually we “took up” watching the Tour de France, and slowly inhaled all things ‘peleton’, ‘maillot jaune’, ‘tête de la course’ and ‘Alpe d’Huez’. Names like Lance Armstrong (past tense), Cadel Evans, Andy Schleck, and Edvald Boasson-Hagen now slip easily into our conversations. We are experienced “travellers” in France, Italy and Belgium.
Aussies competing overseas have become family members. As a mother I “hurt” when one is injured and has to abandon a race. We cheer them on into the wee hours. Since March, No.1 Son and I have avidly watched the One Day Classics in France and Belgium. Now the Giro d’Italia and Tour of California have taken over. A lesser-known 8-day tour in Ireland has caught our attention this week as No.1 Son’s best mate tackles the green fields and rugged coastal roads of the Emerald Isle. But this is building up to the “Big One” – Le Tour. It is Yellow Countdown in our house.
What is it about cycling that captures our attention and challenges our sleep patterns?
A banquet awaits us every night. Amazing TV coverage of the races are filmed from motorbikes and hovering helicopters, bringing us not only the excitement and sometimes despair of the races, but also stunning scenery. Expert commentary brings countryside and racing to life, educating us about riders and team tactics.
And have I mentioned the millions of people who line the roadsides annually, and losers dressed in devil suits and mankinis attempting to outrun arguably some of the finest athletes in the world?
Add breathtaking bravery as riders fly down a mountain at 70kms/hour, spectacular but sickening crashes, great sportsmanship, champagne and flowers presented by leggy girls in ridiculous dresses, and you have a gourmet recipe for insomnia.
But No.1 Son is still out most mornings riding the beautiful country roads around Bendigo – sometimes riding in the bunch, other times alone with his thoughts. He says nothing beats it!