and how chuffed he was! (My son; I can’t speak for Bradley ….)
Bobby congratulated Bradley on his absolutely splendid recent victory in the Critérium du Dauphiné stage race. And Bradley signed Bobby’s Salt Ayre Cog Set racing top, having first sensibly checked that he did really want his autograph scrawled across it.
Bobby was understandably rather nervous to meet face-to-face, and actually get to speak to, a person who he has previously only seen thundering around Manchester’s velodrome, as well as on many more occasions via the television or computer screen, winning Olympic gold medals, breaking world records, riding time trials, and sometimes so clearly (but beautifully) suffering alongside the world’s other best riders in the high mountains which are the crowning glory – the pinnacle – of our sport.
So it was good that it was Sue, with her much cooler and far more sociable personality, rather than I who accompanied Bobby to the track last night. I’d have been useless, but Sue can strike up a conversation with anyone, and she usually does. So she chatted easily to Bradley and Ben, and ensured that Bobby had a gateway to meeting a cycling champion.
Bobby has been riding the VanillaBikes.com Tuesday night crits at Salt Ayre, our local cycling track. Last night, Bradley’s son Ben rode in the same youth race as Bobby, whilst his wife Cath rode in the senior’s event. Bradley was there to support his family.
How great is that? Fresh from winning a major international stage race, and just before heading back to France for the really big one, a cycling superstar can be found at your local bike track, mixing it with club riders at the sport’s grass-roots.
Now of course, he has to do something, and it just so happens – and is our good luck – that that something is in our own backyard. But this little vignette is I think also emblematic of a much wider lack of pretension within cycling circles.
I refuse to be ‘properly sociological’ about this. Perhaps that’s because I, like most other people, want to believe that the things I really love are modest, humble and down-to-earth.
But I’d argue that some things most certainly aren’t. On the contrary, some things stink of elitism, aloofness and exclusivity.
Whereas cycling – whether we’re talking about Britain’s best (ever?) stage rider, or someone we’ve never heard of pedalling to the local shop for the Sunday paper and a litre of milk, really is modest, down-to-earth and humble.
Is it any wonder that I so love it?
Very good luck on the Tour Bradley – like people everywhere, many of us in Lancaster are wishing you and the rest of Team Sky well, and will be shouting you on, next month.