Ageing blokes in Lycra - not a good look
We pretend not to be that bothered, but in reality, as September approaches there is not one of us veterans who does not check their morning mail to see if the tour notes (and invitation ... and demand for money) for our annual cycling trip have arrived.
There was a time when we would receive the notes in plenty of time but, due to a combination of work pressures and idleness, in recent years they have been received only a week before we are due to leave.
Feigning disinterest but in truth keeping a sharp lookout for the postie, for over two weeks I have been keenly awaiting their arrival.
Obviously there is the normal excited sense of anticipation before any holiday, but with the tour notes there is also a sense of anxiety. As ladishness and enthusiasm for the products of local craft brewers feature quite prominently on our outings you worry that some indiscretion from past tours might have been caught on film only to appear in print in the notes.
So when the notes eventually arrived the first thing I did was check my profile for the expected traditional tirade of abuse and general character assassination.
Thankfully, I got away with words detailing the effect the ravages of time are having on my body and a resume of my training, or rather lack of training, and how I am likely to fair on this year’s tour.
We are somewhat depleted this year. One of the lads only comes every second year excusing himself on the dubious basis that living as he does in Australia it is a long way to come ‘just to sit on a bike’. What a lightweight! Another pathetically cites the loss of use in one leg as an excuse while a third has sadly died.
Nevertheless, that still leaves six of us, all getting older, fatter and (with the exception of Johnnie) increasingly unfit. I find we spend as much time comparing blood pressure treatments, joint problems and listing our favourite surgical operations as we do talking about girls, football, rugby, music, politics and the economy.
In fact, the more I think about it, we must look a right shower. A bunch of ageing blokes, looking appalling in wholly inappropriate figure hugging lycra, fueled on chips, hops and barley, and usually seen pushing their bikes up the steep bits, or eating toasted teacakes and drinking tea by the pint.
With the disappointing human resources at his disposal, the age profile of the peleton and a near total lack of preparation, Paul has at last recognised we are not the men we once were, and has opted for a tour of the Scottish borders next week, a land steeped in history, and apparently characterised by genteel tearooms, nice pubs and crucially gently rolling contours.
He has driven the proposed routes in his Jag and says they are easy. I remain sceptical and so I’m already checking the map for short-cut ... just in case.