One Man and His Bike – Part Two

During the day I have all kinds of spurious ambitions. I fantasise about an evening where I will be inspired. I will finally sit down and sipping from a very good glass of red wine I will write my novel. Or I will get to grips with the international news and educate myself on the crisis in Syria. Or I will start kundalini yoga lessons. It is Friday evening and we are doing our usual routine after standing outside the bedroom door for an hour whispering “mummy’s here, go to sleep” then cleaning up all manner of debris. We are gooning brain-dead in front of the TV.

P has recorded the Lance Armstrong interview and I have no energy to notice what kind of sound or pictures are flicking in front of me, let alone to care, so we are watching. I prise myself up once to get a drink (nothing more exciting than tea though I’m afraid) but for the rest of the evening I’m transfixed in a sort of TV watching stupor.

Towards the end, the caffeine in the tea must have slightly revived me because I do seem to have taken in various facts about this whole debacle. There is something about banned substances, blood transfusions, something to do with a drug beginning with the letter E… I am not and have never been interested in the tour de france but I must have been paying attention a little.

Well enough to have a heated debate as it turns out.

There is a man right here sitting on my left who is interested, very interested when it comes to anything bike related and the tour de france is the annual climax for any enthusiast’s calendar. He points out to me that Lance was only doing what everyone else on the tour does and therefore should not take the entire blame.

“This is a media circus” he says

“So what if it is?” I argue back (I may be a mere uneducated tour de france innocent, in fact I think it’s absolutely dull to watch so I know I’m on dangerous ground messing about with a man’s hobby like this, but hey, I have an opinion and I’ve cycled under the influence of banned substances before – noone offered me truckloads of cash for it or a book deal or nothing!)

I continue: “He enjoyed the media attention when he was a hero, but he’s just a nasty arrogant man who cheated in order to win and made millions out of it”

He says everyone was at it and that Lance just went along with the norm because otherwise he’d have had no career.

“Why didn’t he talk more about that, eh? What was he supposed to do? He had an amazing talent. He was the top of his sport, but it went with the territory, was he supposed to pack it all in and be a window cleaner or something?”

“Well, I guess it’s a shame that his sport was so dirty, but it was still his choice to be corrupted. I don’t think there’s any justification for giving yourself that much money and power through corruption.”

I am aware that this is turning the corner from discussion to argument and frankly, I’m surprised at myself. Firstly because P is a master at the wind-up. I have known him for 13 years now and I am always trapped by his amazing talent for playing devil’s advocate.

“I don’t even think you believe any of this what you’re saying!!!” I shout.

Secondly I’m surprised at myself, because underneath the stink, I know I couldn’t give a flying monkey what Lance or any other cyclist injects into himself at the end of the day. Or whether he peddles for hours with test-tubes of urine hidden up his rectal passage since I have no interest in this sport where ultimately the crowning accolade is to wear a yellow t-shirt! Woo hoo. I apologise to all who are avid lovers and may be offended by my flippancy. I know it’s super important thing to loads of people and you have to train yourself til the brink of death, the absolute endurance test etc etc, but really? I don’t see the point.

If everyone is injecting a cocktail of hormones and drugs then it may as well be a bunch of cyborgs as far as I’m concerned. And I say as much to P. Big mistake. He goes on about ultimate sportsmanship, intense training, where do you draw the line? Should everyone be on a diet of lentils? Doping in every sport….

“Ok, ok I get it, I’m gonna make you an “I LUV LANCE” T-shirt” I say

I really don’t care and as he talks about the history of cycling and physical forbearance one thought keeps going round in my head “Don’t even answer, you don’t want to talk about this any more”

Then involuntarily I get fired up and I retaliate with a whole load of anti-capitalist stuff about huge wealth and celebratory status and the corruption of power.

P manages to stick a corker back at me that we are ourselves just as much to blame for our collaboration with corruption on a world scale when we choose to buy unfairly produced beans in the supermarket.

Then it’s just another quarter of an hour to drag through the tangent of Bill Clinton and onto ghost writers, J.K Rowling and all her multimillions and then finally I think we’re done for the evening.


How did that happen? I was exhausted before we started all this.

We flick the TV back to the normal real-time channels.

Voice of Holland Kids is just finishing.

“Shit, you made me miss this! I love this programme” I say

It’s a sensation sweeping Friday night prime-time. It’s a foolproof tear-jerker formula. No parent can watch without falling prey to it’s spell. I could have done with the catharsis. Instead my evening has been ruined by all this grown-up arguing.

Tomorrow no TV I promise, I’m thinking up titles for my novel.