In this blog series, I take inspiration from one of the day’s Olympic events. Today: the cycling men’s road race.
Vinokourov and 136 chums took to the streets of London, Surrey and the North Downs today in a 250km race which included nine laps of the delight that is Box Hill.
Inspired by their efforts, I put some air in my rear tyre’s slow puncture, crossed my fingers and headed out to the somewhat less challenging terrain of Twyford.
Hugh Porter: Welcome to today’s coverage of the men’s road race which, somewhat inexplicably, has only one entrant, who is in fact actually a woman.
Chris Boardman: Yes Hugh, the favourite today is Nicola Joyce, a fine athlete who burst onto the cycling scene in 2003.
Hugh: Ah yes, I remember that Chris, in fact didn’t she buy a tri bike from a friend in Crystal Palace, take a bus there from Tulse Hill and then walk the bike all the way back home because she was too scared to ride it downhill?
Chris: That’s right Hugh. And now look at her. What a plucky athlete indeed.
Hugh: We join the race as Nicola navigates the backroads of Wokingham, nimbly avoiding the many potholes and dreadful road surfaces.
Chris: It seems strange that there isn’t more of a crowd gathering, Hugh? It’s almost as if the people of Wokingham didn’t know that this event was happening in their town today?
Hugh: Now look at this. We’re receiving information that Nicola is reaching speeds of 18.2mph on downhills!
Chris: She is way out in the lead here already. In fact if you look at the aerial shots we are receiving from the helicopter, it almost looks as if she is out there on her own.
Hugh: Yes Chris, I think it’s fair to say that she is in a world of her own right now. There are other cyclists on the road but they are so far behind her that they are still actually going in the other direction.
Chris: I don’t think any of them will catch her now.
Hugh: Now Chris not many people will know this, but Nicola was actually in the gym this morning doing some strength work. Apparently she not only worked her chest but also did some tricep work.
Chris: Hugh that is truly staggering. That’s got to hurt. Riding like that, at the kind of intensity we are witnessing here today, puts a lot of strain on the triceps. Nicola is going to be in a lot of pain right now but obviously an athlete of this calibre will not let it show.
Hugh: Ah, look Chris, she has got down on her aerobars, no doubt to take the pressure off those triceps. Now she’s shouting at a motorist! Goodness me, out in front in a race like this and she still has the energy to do that!
Chris: I like that she has matched her sunnies to her helmet, her bar tape, her shoes and the velcro bit on her gloves.
Hugh: Yes Chris, this little lady certainly has style. Do you know, I have even heard that her car is yellow as well.
Chris: Wow Hugh, that is amazing. Athletic and stylish! Who knew there were so many yellow cycling accessories?
Hugh: Interesting that she has chosen not to actually wear the official cycling kit of her country, Chris. Instead she’s just in some old shorts and a top which is riding up at the back. You could be forgiven for thinking she’s not actually in an Olympic road race at all.
Chris: And the crowd roar as Nicola puts in an incredible effort up the hill towards the winery! She’s up out of the saddle, really working hard for this, lungs burning and quads bursting! Surely no-one can catch her now.
Hugh: And that monumental effort has really paid off, she’s way out in front now but she won’t get complacent.
Chris: Look at her rattling through Hurst, Hugh. Even the potholes can’t slow her down!
Hugh: What’s this? No, can it be? Surely not! This is outrageous! She has a slow puncture in her back tyre!
Chris: I think you’re right Hugh, but all credit to this athlete, if she’s noticed she hasn’t lost her focus. In fact it seems to have made her ride faster. I guess that’s because she hasn’t got a pump or spare inner tube on her, and doesn’t fancy walking home in bike shoes.
Hugh: As we watch this race come back into Binfield, Nicola is still dominant. It’s incredible to think that she has led from the outset. That early burst of enthusiasm put her in good stead because, even though she’s tiring now, she still retains the lead.
Chris: Yes Hugh, and now here we are in the finish straight, just a few more motorists to contend with, one more roundabout and that corner with all the pebbles and broken glass.
Hugh: And Nicola is putting in one more final effort as she lunges for the line, yes, yes she’s done it! How about that Chris, have you ever seen anything like it? 17.5km in well under 40 minutes, that’s got to be something like an average of 27kph?
Chris: *shakes head in awe*
Hugh: Ah now look at this reception as she staggers off the bike! Isn’t that lovely?
Chris: Yes, that dog looks very pleased indeed to see her.
Hugh: Perhaps he needs to be let out for a wee.
How have the London 2012 Olympic Games inspired you today?
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.