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London games

Hundsie and I press ourselves deferentially against the parapet of the footbridge and tug instinctively at our forelocks, as two gaily coloured demigods sweep past on expensive-looking racing bikes. But they are not newly ennobled knights of the realm as we suppose, merely an attractive couple in their early thirties. They are well-spoken, as are their wheels (a joke! So soon!), so one assumes they must not be from around here. Cyclists!

I blame Sir Chris Hoy and the other olympiads for this new cult of couples road-racing everywhere on our footpaths. They do it in our exurban space because it is easy: there are no hills, the valley bottom is completely flat. Your Uncle Bogler took up cycling after the Beijing games, but it was dark and raining, everywhere seemed to be uphill and my trouser bottoms kept getting caught between the chain and the sprocket thing, so that I was always falling off and turning up for meetings embarrassingly with my trousers tucked-in to my socks.

The point of it is surely not the healthy exercise, but the chance to dress shamelessly! You are there, in Summit Cycles or somewhere, driving the poor assistant back and forth to the stockroom. No, more purple! More orange! More fluorescent lime green! Half the fun must be rolling on, and then later peeling off, one another’s impossibly tight-fitting Lycra suits, like skin from sunburned shoulders. It’s not something I can imagine doing on one’s own.

Or, indeed, with anyone else.


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