“This is the moment I’ve dreamt of all year”
Bradley Wiggins, La Planche des Belles Filles, Stage 7 2012 Tour de France
Watching yesterday’s Tour stage was unique for me. In none of the 24 Tours de France I have watched have I seen a different Britons win the stage and take the yellow jersey in one day. Nor have I seen a British yellow jersey wearer who actually has a real chance of winning the Tour. And when I stop to think about it that makes me quite nervous.
I’m aweful at watching sports where I have a vested interest. Just ask MrsAB. If Wales are playing a crucial rugby match I yo-yo up and down off the sofa, in and out of the room, convinced they will lose. And so this year’s Tour is no different. Nothing would please me more than to see Wiggo win. But there’s a niggling voice in the back of my head that says it won’t happen. Each stage of the first week has been watched through metephorical fingers, each crash a portent of something worse to come. Lady Luck has so far been on “our” side though I can’t help feeling she’ll ditch us soon.
I suppose what I am saying is that I am a bag of nerves. Some of you will have noticed that, some of you will be the same yourselves. And sat here watching Stage 8 having not quite made it out on two-wheels myself this morning I’m reflecting on how nerves affect me. The bicycle hasn’t been totally abandoned but it is fair to say it is suffering from neglect. I’ve spoken of my inertia before, finding it difficult to get out without some incentive or commitment, some of which is down to a nervousness of the unknown (meeting new people, trying new roads). But increasingly I recognise that some of it is a nervousness of the known (the hills!) and the “what might be”, by which I mean a growing nervousness riding on ever more crowded roads occupied by a growing minority of anti-social drivers. It is through these eyes that I am anxiously watching the Tour.
When Wiggo said this is the moment he dreamed of another part of me felt fearful for the fragility of those dreams. He’s one week into a three week grand tour: a) that’s just part of the dream surely and b) given a crash strewn first week what does the future hold. Equally, however, I can’t help but feel some of my dreams have turned sour when I’ve realised them, others have remained tantilising close whilst oh so far away. It is my state of mind, it is how I view the world and when I invest in a dream it is never quite how I thought it would be. And most of the time it is nerves that are to blame.
If I’m nervous sat divorced from the real pressure of the Tour watching on TV in my front room in Wolverhampton, I can only begin to imagine what it must be like to be Brad, in yellow, chasing his dream.
Fingers crossed that in 2 weeks time I can sit here and watch a stroll into Paris, the first ever British winner of the Tour de France. But first two more weeks of watching the action through those fingers. If Wiggo wins maybe I too can conquer my reservation and nerves and finally realise my dreams.