Many have asked why I’m doing the Livestrong Challenge. The answer’s simple. Because, I can. I’m doing it as part of Team Fatty. The Fat Cyclist is a two-time award winning blogger who writes mostly about cycling. Quite by chance I came across one of his entries a while back which was a very amusing, an open letter to Assos poking fun at their advertising. Since then I’ve been a regular reader.
Fatty’s wife Susan is fighting metastasized breast cancer and, in early December 2008, he proposed that his readers should band together and ride in support of Livestrong. So I thought, why not? Like most of us I have lost family and friends to cancer but equally importantly, I have friends who have survived. So, given that I’m in a very fortunate position, I would like to be of some, small assistance to those who are not.
My mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s so many are surprised I’m cycling in support of the fight against cancer. Frankly, I am happy to raise money for any good cause, and there are plenty of them. But if I were cycling for Alzheimer’s my mother would inevitable hear about it and it would upset her. She knows she has Alzheimer’s but never acknowledges it. Any mention of the disease distresses her, so we never talk about it in her hearing. Why would we upset her unnecessarily?
Even though I haven’t been cycling for long, my mother remembers that I cycle. Indeed, she watched on TV the entire Women’s Olympic Road Race in Beijing, won so magnificently by Nicole Cooke, hoping to catch a glimpse of me on my bike. I’m touched that while my mother has lost so much she hasn’t lost her faith in me.
One rainy afternoon in July 2004, I watched my very first road race. It was stage 6 of the Tour de France, from Bonneval to Angers, won by a young, up and coming Belgian rider in a bunch sprint. Although, this was my first time, even I, without fully appreciating his achievements, had heard of Lance Armstrong.
I watched the subsequent Tour stages through to their inevitable conclusion on the Champs-Elysees. A stage won once again by that young Belgian. I enjoyed every last moment of the Tour, absorbing all the technical details and historical background provided by the German presenters. Seeking more perspective, later that summer, I read Lance’s books: “It’s not about the Bike” and “Every Second Counts”. I was impressed with the meticulous, even obsessive, planning and preparation he applied not only to surviving cancer but also his bike racing. I empathised with that control freakiness.
Quite rightly, my husband holds Lance fully culpable for my fascination with the world of road racing.
Header Image: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
“View from the Back” was my husband’s suggested title for the blog. If truth be told “View from Off the Back and Halfway Down the Hill” might be a more accurate description of my place in the peloton.
While watching races on the TV, I wondered why it seemed so difficult for some pro-riders to get back to the rest of the bunch. Well, now I know how easily half a bike length becomes 500 metres, and more. They now have my total sympathy. It’s a lot harder than it looks, unless, of course, you’ve got a few team-mates pacing you back up or giving you a bit of a push or a very “sticky bottle.” Wait, that’s not allowed in the pro-peloton. Luckily then that doesn’t apply to me.