It isn’t discipline or drive which defines serious cyclists; it’s a lack of focus. You can hear it when we talk: a climb in Surrey, a mountain in France, a Tour stage from 20 years ago, last week’s chipper race – all tumble and flow into our conversations. With cycling fans, nothing is small, long ago or far away.
By becoming the first British rider to win the Tour, Bradley Wiggins is, to me, a living expression of this culture that expresses road cycling in all its forms, all at once. I saw him at the now-defunct Eastway circuit quite a few years ago, dressed in his Française des Jeux kit, racing among amateurs (he lapped the field and sat up, allowing the race to be decided without him). More amazingly, Jen inadvertently saw his willy as he got changed in the car park. Imagine that: a professional cyclist sticking to the age-old amateur tradition of disrobing in front of a car boot (even though Eastway was, at the time, the one circuit in London that had proper changing facilities…)
Some Tour winners are like stone icons standing upon a mountain. To me, Bradley is the boy on a poster inside the bike hut at the Hillingdon circuit, holding his winner’s bouquet. He’s the fella who conquered the mighty Pyrenees and once trained by riding up the pimple in Richmond Park. He’s here, there and everywhere – like cycling is at the moment. Like we are.