The latest research shows that there is no correlation between major sporting events, and an increase of long-term grassroots participation. As a 30-year veteran of the leisure and sport industry, with two summers as the park manager, I can confirm that the « Wimbledon Effect » is real. People will pull out their tennis rackets and grab their Springer Spaniels’ collection of tennis balls from the shed before heading to the nearest park to play like Andy or Serena. Every year it happens. It is especially common for soft tissue injuries.

Recently, I have been making regular Sunday morning commutes to Glossop and Sheffield to teach rugby coaching courses. It is possible that the Tour de France has its own television coverage. Since Sir Bradley, as David Millar refers to him now, there has been an increase in Team Sky replica kits on the roads of Hope Valley since early July.

This has made me angsty as a car driver with a deadline. But now, I’m about to join them. I don’t have any branded gear unless someone sends it. I can see the point of weekend warriors. It is easy to see how cyclists are able to effortlessly ride kilometres of scenic roads across Europe. Thanks to my new friends at ebiketips, I’ll be able this year.

You can see it has arrived. The ebike is now on its way. My Scott E-Sub Tour 2017, powered by Bosch, is now complete. There are only days left before the 22 teams gather in Germany.

She is not only here but she has also been assigned a gender and been named. It has been an exciting few weeks.

Nelly was so-called because she sat in the front room for 24 hours unpacking but otherwise unharmed – a large, very black, ‘elephant’ in the room – and has completed both her first road stage and a training run. She’s been muddied and hosed down, and has been the subject of intense conversations with the Bosch tech team. The end result was « turn it off, turn it back on again ».

She also won my heart.

After the brave 198 participants in Le Tour 2017, Nelly and my fellow TT racers, Nelly, woke me up at 5:45 AM. It was cold, breezy, and promised rain. Perfect for me. Who would ever think that a Sunday morning could bring me up and make me a judge? How many cars would there be waiting to pick me up on the roads? What chance did I have that any other imagined disasters might befall me?

After an evening of out-and-back politeness along a small stretch of reclaimed railway, my plan was to try a more challenging circular route that would take in a few small hills before reaching the bike-friendly, flat trail. I don’t mind climbing up the Pennines like a woolly-hatted Pantani of the past, but I know that I don’t have the legs for such an ambitious goal.

I do have a motor, and I realized that it was only 50 meters away from my front door. The road climbs once you leave the cul de-sac where I live and head towards the hills. It is recommended that you turn right and cross the downhill carriageway. If the coast appears clear, it is best to step on it. The bike replied. It was a whoosh.

Nelly and me seemed to jump forward and reach a decent speed in just a few pedal revs. It was a strange feeling to be standing on the pedals. The mode selector on my handlebar-mounted Intuvia display showed « Turbo » so I wasn’t surprised that I was accelerating away. It was so satisfying that I danced up inclines that I would struggle to walk up without stopping to « check out this lovely view ». I decided to head for the hills, taking on an ascent that would be – after checking with someone who knows – categorised as « precipitous », shin-splintering or even Mortirolo-esque at 12%.

It’s not on my Nelly, it’s not. Yes, I did work up a sweat, and yes, my quads started to complain. But I never considered stepping off. While I was not sorry I had to stop for « summit shots » per protocol, I wasn’t “blowing out my arse”, as cyclists would say, once I reached the finish line. In fact, I felt more than just chipper. After a brief chat with a sheep (I’m from Derbyshire, after all), I got back on my bike and cruised down Chunal at what Intuvia later indicated was a maximum speed of 68.8 km/h. I arrived home in time to take a shower and enjoy a well-deserved breakfast.

Monday morning I was smiling despite the fact that my calves were made leaden by delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

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