We did the Première Manche - the first round - of A Travers riding across France from Dieppe to Marseille in the summer of 2009, and it was the original inspiration for this blog. The plan to put the 'band back together again' for another go in 2013 for the second installment fell on stoney ground, with life just getting in the way for too many of us, much to our disappointment. However, our enthusiasm for the bike remains undimmed, and so I'll keep posting my thoughts on the diverse and beautiful facets of the sport regardless. But there's bound to be another big 'adventure ride' coming soon - quite possibly in Italy - so potentially a name change too: Attraverso l'Italia in Bicicletta anyone?

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Lads Most Likely

Just caught the last bit of the best episode ever of "Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?" on G.O.L.D, having stumbled across it when (inevitably) engaging in a bit of channel-flicking after the World Track Champs on BBC2.

It's a 1973 Episode entitled "The Great Race", where the two middle-aged protagonists challenge each other - out of misplaced male pride - to a bike race from Newcastle to Berwick-on-Tweed. Bad news is I can't find any clips on YouTube. It's fab - predictable capers but real fun nonetheless.

It somehow reminds me not only of growing up in the 1970s (the theme tune, my dad's unbridled laughter), but now of getting older, and more specifically of me and Mike James getting older. We still seem to have this 'Terry and Bob' rivalry, and of course I want to 'beat' him when we get to France. Or more precisely not be beaten by him. Or perhaps best of all, just be as fit as him. I can accept that. Neutrality, but not in a boring Swiss way. More Hinault - Lemond, on top of the Alpe. Sure, the trip's not a race ... but you know what it's like. You're on a climb, the going gets hard and the talking stops. You're not meant to be riding hard, but then again, it is acceptable 'to get to the top first and wait'. Dunkirk Spirit and all that. So, the pace creeps up and up, you become aware of each other's breathing, or gear changes, of laboured cadence, hoping you can sense a weakness so that you can push on, secretly excited yet without looking like you've actually 'attacked' in any way. And, of course, you were just riding at your own pace. Always acceptable.

I can't work out who's who though. Surely it's me who's Terry, James Bolam, the rogue, the downbeat, incorrigible slacker, and Jamesy is Bob, Rodney Bewes, the living embodiment of respectable, suburban, family-oriented white-collar management. He does live in Tunbridge Wells after all, me in Peckham. Look: I'm even being competitive here about who gets to be the 'sexier' of the Likely Lads. I can guarantee he's gonna train like hell until July - whilst denying it all - and dish out some serious pain for this character assassination when we get to France. Hopefully I'll be ready, although I am struggling with this injury I picked up in the Army ...

NB: Jamesy did a real-life stint in the RAF in the late 80s, so it looks like he's far more 'Terry' than I am. I, meanwhile, was at University.