5 UP Tim Vine
“See these Icebreakers? Don’t work. Tried to use one to start a conversation and the guy just walked away.” Boom, and indeed, tish! And so, with a chortlesome quip about a high-end brand of merino base layer, comedian Tim Vine began a short routine at the Pearson Performance store on Friday evening which united the two aspects of life most precious to this blog: cycling and light-hearted wordplay. Hurrah! The one-liner wonderman, who is a childhood chum of owners Will and Guy, made our week with his puntastic appearance in East Sheen, although we’re not going to quote the rest of his routine: this is our blog, and we make the jokes around here (even though they are sub-standard by comparison).
4 UP Newreaders
Staying at the launch of the excellent new Pearson store, one interesting nugget that we picked up which may already be common knowledge among the bikerati is that ITV’s Dermot Murnaghan and Matt Barbet of Channel 5 fame regularly go out riding together. Two TV anchormen, sat next to each other on their bikes, talking away for hours: you know what they probably get up to, don’t you? The pair of them (in The DYNAMITE! Files’ head, anyway) chat to each other as if they’re doing a news broadcast, live from the hills of Surrey. Let’s turn on the vivid HDTV of our imagination and watch… “Good afternoon and thanks for joining us. Coming up: a tight left-hander. Over now to Matt Barbet. Matt, tell us what’s happening.” “Thanks, Dermot. We’re getting unconfirmed reports of a major pothole. Oof! Yes, I can now confirm a pothole has been encountered. Back to you, Dermot.” And so on, for the course of 70 to 100 miles. Possibly.
3 DOWN David Harmon
Still at the launch night of Pearson Performance (can you tell this blog doesn’t get out much?) we were disappointed that the World Championships prevented Eurosport commentator and Richmond Park regular David Harmon from attending. One Pearson partygoer reckons the man behind the mic sounds a little different when off-air and isn’t immediately recognisable, so we had a great way to identify him should he have turned up: “accidentally” drop a glass of bubbly and wait for the one person in the room to say: “Oh no! There’s been a crash! Oh, disaster! This is terrible!” Would’ve worked a treat. Maybe next time, eh?
2 UP Pat McQuaid
The Dalai Lama. Barack Obama. Nelson Mandela. Men of character and wisdom, whose achievements are so great that they truly deserve to have an in-depth 15,000-word feature written about them in a publication of record. And now you can add, er, Pat McQuaid to that august list, because the UCI president is the subject of a Grand Tour-sized question-and-answer session in the forthcoming issue of (what else?) Rouleur. It’s all in there: the Armstrong donations, the accusations of nepotism and why, despite what any of us may think, it’s apparently quite important to have a WorldTour race in China. But perhaps the most intriguing revelation is that Uncle Pat used to lurk on internet forums to see what cycling fans have been saying about him. BikeRadar: your hotline to Aigle. Who would have thought?
1 UP Mark Cavendish, Champion Of The World
It’s something you probably never thought you’d see: “Peta, 24, from Essex”, purportedly quoting Goethe on page three of The Sun as she analyses the euro bailout (“Everything in the world may be endured, except continued prosperity,” apparently). Meanwhile, tucked away on page 62 of the same newspaper, there was a brief report on her boyfriend – someone called Mark Cavendish – being crowned cycling’s world road race champion, making him the first Brit to win the men’s title in 46 years. So judging by the difference in column inches between Cav and his girlfriend in Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper, it would appear that the giddy dream posited by an excitable question from the BBC – “Could cycling become the UK’s second-favourite sport?” – is a long way from becoming a reality. But let’s look at it another way: how, you may ask, is the question in any way relevant? Does the popularity of a sport automatically make it more successful or interesting? Because anyone who saw Sunday’s thrilling race in Copenhagen or read Richard Williams’ analysis in the Guardian would realise that British riders are now officially amazing – super-strong, tactically astute and ruddy fast – and they became brilliant while the majority of the British public wasn’t paying any attention. Which makes their achievement all the more special, doesn’t it?