It’s all well and good these winter trips to the sun but they do take some arranging, along with an early start to the vain cyclist’s ritual of leg shaving and fake tanning.
Blessed are those who tan at the flick of a switch. Being of a Viking complexion I can only say I’m already fed up of this malarky and it’s far too early in the year to be doing it.
But the stubborn refusal of my legs to turn any shade other than blinding white is something the human eye should not be subjected to. I have actually been asked to fake tan before by fellow cyclists, that’s how bad it is. That was in mid summer. Right now my legs are in hibernation mode, no chance of a colour developing.
All this should be academic at this time of year, especially the shaving thing, even if stray hairs will occasionally find their way through leg warmers to stick out like wayward blades of grass that have escaped a lawn mover.
On the subject of plucking, my legs would probably look better if I had used that method on them rather than taken a razor to them. You don’t realise how much you carve them up when you’re in the bath. It looked like a scene from Scarface. All the same, they are now bald and scabbed and fake tanned and all ready for a trip to Dubai, timed to coincide with the Tour, where many professional leg shavers can be seen pumping those perfectly preened pins on expensive bikes competing in something called a cycle race.
So I’ll be watching a bit of that and finding out about the cycle scene, which is going to be interesting seeing as it is an oil-funded state and people love their cars. But they also love their bikes, I’m told.
That’s if I get there. Travel, cycling excepted, is in my view a vastly overrated activity, especially when you are relying on other people to carry you. I’ve already been totally mystified by the rail options from London Bridge station to Gatwick. One of these involved a “change” which was in reality a 26-minute walk along the river to Blackfriars Station where my train was actually leaving from. That’s not a change, that’s a separate departure point.
That’s like saying your flight leaves from Gatwick when it actually goes from Heathrow. Hang on a minute …
There is, I am assured, a 38 minute train from London Bridge, and in this tiny amount of time they’ve managed to squeeze a change in. At Croydon. Never been there but I’m going now. That’s another one to cross of the list of places I’ve visited in my life.
So I won’t be writing a column for you next week. I’m guessing if you’ve read this far that could mildly upset you because you might actually consider this worth reading. Unless I get bored stiff out there and then I’ll have to fill my time with something. This is a possibility. How much cycling can you do in that heat? I know it’s only 25 degrees out there at the moment but you’ve got to factor in the Viking element here - anything over 20 degrees is too much to bear, so we’ll be five degrees into ‘well hot’ territory. I could quite easily spend the majority of my trip in the air conditioned hotel room.
There should be plenty to do if I’m honest. There will be Wiggo to try and get near to, for instance, or Cav. Cameras and microphones 20 deep, the world’s cycling media trying to get a question in.
I wonder how annoyed they get with the leg shaving at this time of year? Do they go for Bic or Gillette? Maybe I could pick up a couple of tips.
As long as I don’t roll up my trousers - they’d run a mile.
This column first appeared on www.thetimes.co.uk/onyourbike on January 29 2016