Today is the first day of the Tour de France. Three weeks of pretending it is OK to drink French sparking wine in the afernoon (I prefer the value for money of a Crémant over Champagne for such times). To watch live shots from a helicopter, as another Château rolls by. To scream obscenities at Eurosport for their continued use of a terrible commentator. All, as I sit on the sofa in a armchair fan t-shirt.
It used to be a highlight of the sporting, holidaying and drinking calendar. Then Team Sky (now Team Ineos) came along. They took cycling to another level with their marginal gains and peloton destroying tactics. Sure it was great to see British winners on the top step of the podium, but not so much that it made for boring racing.
Before long, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España become the far more enjoyable races to watch.
But now a cross-wind of change has gripped me. I no longer want to just sit inside drinking bubbles and watching endless hours of men weeing at the side of the road – I want to be out there. On the road. Riding my own bike.
Which is what I did this morning, albeit on my folding commuter bike. The Brompton I am no doubt boring you with, by now.
For it is no longer enough being part of a WhatsApp group and Fantasy League. It’s also not enough thinking of the recipes I can cook, from the country I will spend three weeks absorbing, thanks to Felicity Cloake’s “One More Croissant for the Road” book.
No, I want bib shorts and derailleurs. Power Meters and Strava Kudos Thumbs.
The disbenefit (sorry to talk shop, there) of falling in love with a folding bike, is that I now realise there is more out there. I want more. So that in the same way I never thought I would complete Couch to 5k, I now find I can turn a pedal over – but with only six gears and a heavy bike – I want to spin my legs even faster.
To all of the people who I have watched on social media riding bikes, or at least taking photos as they ride, stand or even fall near their bikes – the bug has bitten, and I want to be out there with you.
So yes, it is me. Me who thought I couldn’t – and now like the Team Ineos train up a 9% gradient – I know I can.
But first to Aldi for some Crémant d’Jura to washed down a Madeleine or three.