"I just love it". mark cavendish
sprinters are an odd bunch. perhaps not any more so than their grimpeur counterparts, but slightly to the left of normal just the same. perhaps the most famous in recent years, and not exactly for his prowess for being at the front of the marauding hordes, is djamolidin abdoujaparov. for the minor infraction of neglecting to notice that tour de france roadside barriers need feet to help them remain upright, abdoujaparov turned several somersaults on the champs elysees, in the process re-arranging most of his facial features.
you'd expect that those who live their lives on the scary edge of abnormal to inhabit the fast lane when off the bike. it sort of seems to go with the territory. but rather than fill his downtime hours driving fast cars with fast women and staying up late in fast night clubs, djamolidin liked nothing better than to sit in a rickety old deckchair on his allotment near tashkent. though marginally quicker than watching paint dry, the former sprinter delighted in observing peas, runner beans, potatoes and carrots slowly growing from the comfort of that chair. and when he tired of so doing, he'd retire to the comfort of the wooden hut at the edge of the allotment to brew a strong cup of coffee and carve models of former adversaries out of twigs picked up on the walk home.
these are traits not altogether lost on currently the self-styled fastest man on earth, mark cavendish. however, rather than inhabit a small parcel of ground in the isle of man, cavendish finds his relaxing time comes when drying the dishes after a beautifully cooked meal by wife peta cavendish (nee todd). though the cavendish home has every modern convenience as befitting the sort of salary he can command from his employers at quick-step, mark prefers to grab a neatly folded tea-towel from the kitchen cupboard and cogitate on the correct line for the win at milan-sanremo.
i did say that the sprinting fraternity were a tad oddball.
this intriguing trait came to light when mark dropped by recently at the croft. after we'd both battled the headwind down uiskentuie strand, after enjoying a quiet perambulation of loch gorm, gearing up for the sprint at debbie's (guess who won?) before froth supping, we had ridden back for a fulfilling meal of pizza and chips. as is my normal practice, i headed through to the kitchen to wash and dry the dishes, intent on leaving mark to watch hollyoaks in the company of mrs washingmachinepost, but mark insisted on drying if i washed.
special occasions such as this demand more than the threadbare dishtowels that we keep secreted under the half-empty box of cadbury's mini-rolls in the kitchen cupboard. keen to impress just how au fait i am with the professional milieu, i handed mr cavendish a brand new rouleur dish towel. well what would you have done?
i expected the conversation to revolve around just where i'd gone so horribly wrong on the approach to those 30mph signs at the entrance to bruichladdich (i'd been barely in sight of his back wheel at the point where he'd raised both arms aloft), but instead, he seemed keener on pointing out not only the admirable race convoy illustration that adorned the rouleur tea-towel, but the quality of the cotton on which it was printed. his attention to detail is legendary, so i had thought it only right and proper that i accessorised appropriately for the occasion. this consisted of wearing my hackneygt christmas jersey, a cotton rouleur cycle cap and an enamel rouleur pin badge on the jersey collar.
after we'd washed, dried and put away the dishes, it was time for the manx sprinter to head for home. not that i'm normally impressed by celebrity - and obviously it wasn't for me - i asked him for an autograph, handing over a copy of his book 'at speed' along with a pointedly sharpened rouleur pencil.
not the sort of day you forget in a hurry; at least not until you wake up.
some of the details in this feature maybe a touch on the fictitious side.
the mark cavendish figure by richard mitchelson can be bought from the rouleur store for £40. a rouleur pin badge (available in pink and yellow) costs £3, the rouleur tea towel with illustration by tom jay costs £10, a 2014 rouleur cap for £15 and a rouleur timekeepr's pencil also £15.
wednesday 18 december 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................