A collection of wince-inducing, cringe-worthy moments endured by cyclists
Sink, not swim
A tale reaches us from a training camp in Spain. A rider, having completed the last of his long rides, and feeling that he’d put in a really good week’s work, felt it would be a suitably flamboyant sign-off to cycle straight into the swimming pool of his hotel in front of his mates. He did so.
Unfortunately, he rode into the shallow end, so there was a significant impact with the bottom of the pool, which wrote off his frame.
Secondly, it turned out his GPS wasn’t quite waterproof enough.
Thirdly, nor was his phone.
Fourthly, the hotel management insisted on closing the pool so it could be drained and cleaned, meaning that everyone else staying there was denied a soothing swim, and told that it was all his fault.
An email arrives: Dear Doc, I wanted to tell you about my team-mate. He read one of your books, which mentioned beetroot juice as a possible go-faster supplement that had shown some interesting results in studies. So the night before a race he juiced up some beetroot and drank it.
The following morning, at the race, he went for a last-minute pee. The extraordinary colour of his urine freaked him out. He abandoned his racing plans, and insisted I also abandon mine and drive him to hospital. After about two hours in A&E, someone asked him if he’d recently consumed any beetroot.
He ruined his and my race, and, what’s more, in the book it even mentioned scarlet pee as a side effect.
One bike shop’s loss is another’s gain…
A tale from a bike shop mechanic. He had a customer who brought his bike in to be serviced every six months, despite the fact that it was very lightly used. In fact, it often seemed not to have been ridden at all since the last service.
The last time the customer phoned to reserve a slot, the mechanic said, “Why don’t you just send me the £30. The bike will be fine.”
There was a strange silence.
“Or, if you like,” he continued, “pop the bike on the phone, and I’ll do it from here.”
He never saw the man, the bike, or the man’s credit card again, and the easiest money he could earn all year started going to the bike shop across town.
At the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014, I was walking through the Athlete’s Village one evening with one of the Games volunteers. It was the day before the road races. Coming the other way, I saw Mark Cavendish.
We stopped for a few minutes — I wanted to know if he was, as rumoured, acting as DS for the Isle of Man team the following day (he was still injured from his crash in Harrogate at the Tour de France). The volunteer spent the few minutes while we chatted fiddling with her phone.
As we walked off again, I said, “Sorry about that, I should have introduced you. But you were checking your messages.”
“It was only my sister taking the mick,” she said. “She wanted to know if I’d seen Mark Cavendish yet — I’m a huge fan. Who was that you were talking to, by the way?”
Horrific box misunderstanding
A tale reaches us of a rider who used an annual bonus to treat himself to a new frame. It duly arrived, thoroughly packed into a biggish cardboard box.
He took it out, checked it over, and set it in the corner of the living room so he could admire it. It was incredibly light. “Are you going to tidy up?” asked his partner. “Or are you just going to leave everything there?”
“I’ll sort it later,” he replied. “The box just needs to go out with the bins.” The box sat, and sat. Until eventually it disappeared.
“Where’s the frame box?” he demanded. “I got bored waiting for you to get rid of it, and put it out with the bins,” came the reply.
“But I tidied up like you wanted! I’d put the frame back in the box!”
During a continental cycling holiday not many weeks ago, a group of pedallers stopped at a small cafe, high in the mountains. It was a
cafe of the rural, slightly fly-blown variety, making a bare living from farmers in rusty pick-ups and the odd tourist.
Dogs and cats ran loose around the premises, and came over to the group as they sat down to beg for food. They were promptly chased away, with much swearing. However, the animals were not so easily deterred.
While the riders were being distracted by the dogs, one of the cats successful wrought revenge by chewing through the Di2 gear cables of three bikes.
A certain age
Intelligence reaches us of a rider in his late 40s, on a trip to the Dolomites with a few friends. He spent the first day just about keeping up and disguising how hard he was breathing.
On day two, he had to call at a local bike shop to pick up a few energy gels. Chatting with the owner — an old pro, who had, if the photo display was to be believed, ridden with Marco Pantani — he mentioned how hard the previous day had been.
“I know what will help you,” said the owner, and went to the back room. Our hero waited nervously. Super energy gel? An aero jersey? A dripping syringe?
He came back with a catalogue of e-bikes, of a distinctly sit-up-and-beg variety. “When you get to our age,” he said, “sometimes it’s better to give up.”