Yes, yes, I know it’s a big week for golf with the Ryder Cup picks and all. Mind you, it was an easy task for Jim Furyk to choose Bryson DeChambeau, Tiger and Phil (and undoubtedly Tony Finau on Monday next). I imagine, however, that Thomas Bjorn’s job was a little more testing – but who on earth could have predicted he’d put his faith in Sergio who hasn’t shown any real form since his Masters victory last year? In fact, Garcia has missed the cut in the last five majors but let’s not dwell on that. Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey showed decent form at the start of the year but both have been quiet of late. Oh well, at least the European Tour won’t have to worry about a knock on the door from Casey demanding a refund of his membership subs!If you detect a momentary lack of interest on my part it’s because in this normally golf-mad household it’s been all about cycling, cycling, cycling. Today is the big day – eight intrepid riders start their five-day 320-mile odyssey visiting 22 First World War graves in Belgium and France…….and hubby Brian has made it! Less than eight weeks ago he was under the knife having elbow surgery, simultaneously nursing a broken collar bone, a broken rib (he just shared that little nugget with me two days ago) and a twisted pelvis. He had lost an argument with a pot hole while out on a training ride and from that moment on his entire raison d’etre was to disappoint the reserve rider. Move over Bryson DeChambeau in the focused stakes! We are two villages straddling the Welsh/English border, conveniently linked by the wonderful Queen’s Head pub and there are a total of 22 names on the two village war memorials. The group of riders and their support staff will visit all 22 graves, sprinkling soil from the respective villages at each site as a sign of respect and planting a small wooden cross bearing the relevant name. The other evening our rector, Ian Davenport, conducted a blessing of the soil as we all gathered in the pub car park to oversee the loading of the vans with bikes and bags ahead of a 5 a.m. start yesterday morning. The fundraising is north of £7500 so far and everything raised is going to support SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity – it’s a real community effort.
Obviously, I’m used to packing for golf sporting events so it was interesting for me to see Brian’s packing laid out on the bed. Now, I thought that there wasn’t really an awful lot to cycling gear – skimpy lycra shorts and tops, a helmet, gloves, shoes and away you go! Erm, not quite. An array of energy bars and electrolytes were reverentially laid out alongside Dr Beckmann’s non-bio travel wash (other brands are available) and a mysterious-looking something or other claiming to be chamois butter. Don’t ask.
Next were a couple of pairs of what Brian pleases to call his armoured pants – an absolute must for someone who a few years ago managed to smash his femur to smithereens in the first of what he calls his “unlucky accidents”. These are not the slim, skimpy cycling shorts of his mates. These beasts have migrated from the world of mountain biking and are bulky, industrial-sized passion killers. Next to them were two armoured elbow protectors and oodles of layers to help cope with temperatures ranging from early morning chills to the heat of the afternoon. It’s all a far cry from the packing that will be required by Messrs McIlroy and co on THEIR little jaunt to France.
And here I am this morning with fingers crossed that they all cycle safely, achieve their goals and come back in one piece. The immense sacrifice of our 22 local lads merits the efforts of these 8 mamils (middle-aged men in lycra) and their support crew. It puts just about everything in perspective, certainly all sporting events. And yes, even the Ryder Cup.