Lord Alan Sugar should have known better than to tweet a picture of his new bike. Cue stream of vitriol from his legion of trolls.
He forgot the first rule of cycle club - you don’t talk about cycle club. This has less to do with divulging any secrets or blowing any cover than the fact that unless you are a cyclist, any talk about cycling is tantamount to mainlining valium. I can see eyes glaze over at the mere mention of a bike whenever I’m in the company of people who don’t ride, which I admit is becoming more and more infrequent.
For Lord Alan to burden his Twitter massive with a picture of a custom-painted suspension Dogma frame is asking for trouble. He might have thought he would be impressing someone but at the time of writing, the vast majority of comments were along the lines of “who cares,” although using often more imaginative and certainly more colourful variations on the phrase. An equal number pointed out his glaring literal (built instead of build) and only one actually asked about his plans for components.
It isn’t that Lord Alan’s Twitter feed is the most enlightening at the best of times. It is used more as a rolling advertisement hoarding. He veers between plugs for the Apprentice and various enterprises in which he has an interest with all the predictability of a ball bearing in a pinball machine. It’s a stream of promotional consciousness - in fact the nearest you get to Lord Sugar’s personal life is when he presents you with a picture of his custom Pinarello.
Boy, what a character profile that bike frame presents. This man knows how to make the most out of spending £10k (or more) on an Italian superbike. Red, white and blue all over, the cycling equivalent of hanging a flag of St George from the window of your Lamborghini Murcielago, or better still, painting the thing in a Union Jack.
But you’ve got to applaud him for his brand loyalty. He has a whole stable of Pinarellos now, which he will no doubt quite happily tell you about given half the chance. Apparently he used to spread them around his homes in Spain and Florida but those countries leave a little to be desired when it comes to servicing and anyway, when he wants to ride anywhere he just takes one on his plane. As you do.
It would be easy to disparage his bicycle choice, I mean the fact Team Sky choose to ride them is a fine endorsement, and having ridden one myself I can attest to the capabilities of the Dogma F8. But would I choose one over a steel bike, built specifically to my dimensions? Would I hell. The Dogma is a lot of things, but the height of comfort it is not. People compare these to supercars, but even supercars are equipped with a bit of luxury.
They are thoroughbred race machines, which while making it laughable that I was given one to undertake the Maratona on, it makes it even more ridiculous that an ageing tycoon would choose one. I bet his poor Dogmas haven’t come within sight of a peloton.
I do suspect that the Lord Sugars of the cycling world to be the main customers of Pinarello’s high-end models, hence the glamourous, overpriced Haymarket showroom.
I am of course biassed. It’s well documented that if I had that kind of money I’d be on the phone to Ricky Feather or Mark Reilly or Tom Donhou or any of the other master UK framebuilders, ordering up a fillet-brazed, triple-butted super lightweight steel frame with all the trimmings rather than having someone paint a Union Jack on an Italian bike which was built in Taiwan.
But there’s no accounting for taste, and when it comes to Essex boys there’s invariably no taste to account for. I’m saying that in the knowledge that I happen to be one.
And when it comes to taste in bikes, it can be a very personal thing. I have already offended my boss this morning by asserting in a comment for The Times that the perception of Boardman bikes left a little to be desired, without remembering that he owns one.
Talking of taste, did you see Peter Sagan got married? Now here’s a man who knows how to throw a wedding. He turns up in a Hulk-coloured Trabant, dressed like an extra from Game of Thrones, rocking a hairstyle that appears to be inspired by Prince. Then he takes a chainsaw to a log in what I can only imagine must be some sort of Slovakian tradition before doing the getting married to his comparatively normally dressed (for a wedding) bride, Katarina. At some point during proceedings Sagan also manages to ride a mini penny farthing along a wire suspended a good 15ft above the ground. His team manager must have been having kittens, which oddly didn’t feature (the kittens or the manager).
It’s difficult to work out whether all this was standard Slovakian wedding behaviour or just another glimpse into the world of a man who used to celebrate stage wins by impersonating superheroes.
Whatever, he looked as if he was having a good time.
This column first appeared on www.thetimes.co.uk/onyourbike on November 13 2015