Driven mad in London — 10 April 2012

Now constructed and undergoing the final adjustments the 2012 Olympic venues are on the cusp of throwing open their doors to the general public. Soon we will have wall to wall coverage in the media of these stadia and all the athletic action for which they were designed – but frankly, I’m rather alarmed. The Olympic Stadium looks rather like a football ground which of course is what it will become for its ultimate use. Put simply it’s the backdrop for the grand occasions.

The design of the Aquatics Centre has been done before; its roof has appeared in Hollywood blockbusters looking like an alien spaceship descending to Earth. Its interior is light and airy, but swimming, well isn’t it just a little pedestrian?

The Basketball Arena must have Charles Saatchi wishing to fill its cavernous interiors with modern art.

No, it’s the Velodrome that has me worried. In London we like to give nicknames to iconic buildings and its shape and copper colour have given rise to the building being dubbed ‘The Pringle’. The roof’s curved shape conveys undulating circular travel at high speed, its track design which mirrors the roof has been tested and early trials indicate that its design has the potential to be the worlds fastest. It’s the swan song for its creator, Ron Webb a veteran of 53 such venues and all this attention will mean that events staged here will be the races the public will want to watch.

Men whose thighs that are wider than my waist, breaking the legal speed limit and all looking like an Adonis it’s a sports broadcaster’s dream venue. To make matters worse it is a Brit who is one of the fastest around, triple Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy looks set to become one of the stars of the Games at the ripe old age of thirty-six.

As a cabbie I’ve had my fair share around London’s streets of The Men in Lycra, but the 2012 Olympics promise to raise speed cycling to a whole new level of participation by men who at their age should really know better.

Men you see transmogrify at around the age of 40, youthful looks start to fade, young girls find you invisible and as the hairline recedes testosterone levels mysteriously seem to increase.

So decisions need to be taken to retain one’s youth: gym membership, a sports car, performance enhancing drugs, or the old standby, taking on a mistress.

But one lifestyle change wins hands down – a bobby-dazzler racing road bike. It fulfils man’s innate desire to be competitive while at the same time showing off his youthful good looks.

First the apparel, the Lycra has to be tight otherwise it feels that you’re wearing a parachute. Fluorescent colours of bright blue, yellow or Heaven help us lime green serve to achieve a peacock’s dazzling array, guaranteeing heads turning as you pass.

But, let’s be honest, all men like to display their prowess by their ability to buy ‘stuff’ – expensive stuff – and at up to £8,000 racing bikes fit the bill admirably.

Bike frames made from F1 racing car wonder material carbon fibre weighing less than your empty wallet, racing shoes just like Superman wears, futuristic helmets mounted by a video camera. Every piece designed to scream at the world – “I’m an Alfa Male – with money”.

Not long after the London 2012 closing ceremony I predict packs of these ‘old-boy racers’ emerging from Canary Wharf each trying to beat his personal best and all spending increasing sums of money to achieve their goal.

In the 1880s Mark Twain learned to ride one of the old high-wheel bicycles of that period and wrote Taming The Bicycle, an account of his experience. After that hair-raising adventure he gave this sage advice: ‘Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live.’


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