Dividend

So long we’ve been the oddballs, loners, geeks,
Derided MAMILs, big kids with our toys.
Now suddenly, in three transcendent weeks
We’ve given Team GB its poster-boys.
Three heroes have arisen from our ranks –
Froome, Cavendish and Wiggins – and it seems
Our wilderness years may be ending, thanks
To rides that changed the world, fulfilled our dreams.
So can we lesser mortals now expect
All those who’ve shouted Wiggo to the sky
To treat us with a measure of respect
Or must we still accept abuse. Still die.
What chance the bounty Bradley has bestowed
On Britain wins us honour on the road?

 

Words are insufficient to describe Sunday’s Tour de France finale in Paris. I’ve been watching the race since 1996 and never thought I’d see a British winner – far less a British one-two, seven British stage wins, a British rider (and World Champion) winning on the Champs-Elysees for the fourth successive year…simply astonishing.

Perhaps inevitably, THEY have seized on it and wrapped it up in the Union flag ahead of the Olympics. A presenter on the BBC’s Today programme summed up the media reaction perfectly when he said: “I never knew [cycling] was so interesting until we started winning.” It’s worth noting that Wiggins had already won three of Europe’s most prestigious stage-races this season before the Tour even started: not one of these victories was reported by the mainstream press.

The hope is now that Bradley Wiggins’ remarkable achievement will mark the start of a new era, not just for British cycling, but for cycling, and cyclists, in Britain. We’ve waited 99 years for our first Tour winner: let’s hope it doesn’t take that long for attitudes to change, and we stop killing 1,000 cyclists a year on our roads.

(In case you’re wondering: MAMIL is short for Middle-Aged Man In Lycra. Originally a derogatory term, we’ve sort-of embraced it now and see it more as a badge of honour than an insult!) N.

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One thought on “Dividend

  1. Ahh, I envy your biking, Nick. I still walk all the time, but I was never a biker. Our son was. I remember being so nervous when he wanted to ride between Shawano and Appleton, Wisconsin during the years when I was in the software business. Ethel and I got in the car and followed him as he wound down endless country roads. He’d get ahead of us when we stopped to wait for him, turned as soon as he passed us, and made us try to find him. We always did, but he rode like the wind during a hot day around corn, alfalfa, and bean fields. Your biking poetry reminds me of so many experiences we had with him and his road bike. I hope attitudes change in England. No one should die when beasts of cars choose to go out of control and kill a biker. In many places in the U.S. they have turned old railroad right of ways into bike trails. If we move to Algoma, Wisconsin in April, which we may do, there is a long trail into Door County north and a pretty good hike south. Kevin was always riding the Door County roads when he was young. It is a beautiful area. It is too bad the politicians cannot do the same in England. I hope the Tour win will give all the bikers what you desire.

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