Toy Stories


There's the jersey that I wore for precisely one day. Riding the Etape as a guest of Cannondale who lent me a bike and gave me a jersey/short/glove combo in an, er, eye-catching black and white spiral pattern with fetching orange panels up the sides. The shorts were not ideal for the rainy sprint to the start according to those following me as they were a revealing garment when damp, but the individual design was great for spotting other riders in the ramshackle Cannondale "Team" during the day, transparent or not.

Memories of a sleep splintered by rain smashing against the tent, cold pizza in the dark for breakfast, the surreal misty carnage at the La Mongie feed-station, descending the Tourmalet in the rain and getting all emotional about it, skitting sideways on chattery corners, puncturing and being offered roadside assistance and a proper mechanics push-off from two Dutch spectators, struggling up the final climb of Luz-Ardiden in knife rain, seeing a huddled mess of Japanese cyclists by the toilets hiding from the weather sat on flattened cardboard bike-boxes and cocooned in bubble-wrap, and bored hours in the car waiting for some of our cycling companions to eventually arrive in the broom-wagon they had waited for to sweep them up.

So fed up were we with the Pyrenean weather that next day we high-tailed it to Ventoux, scene of a previous and far more enjoyable Etape (apart from the hail-storm on top of the mountain obviously) where I immediately managed to crash and dent my Bianchi descending the Giant Of Provence into Bédoin. Ahhhhh, my Bianchis - a love affair interwoven with Marco's dream era, light steel and that colour. Happy days, years even, a few road frames, one 'cross bike specially smuggled over from America, even a Pista for a short while with an expanding collection of clothing and Il Pirata bandanas to match. Obviously none of which could be worn on later bikes that weren't celeste.

A jersey bought when in Italy whilst dangerously giddy on chocolate ice-cream and lust-struck in a bike shop dripping with Colnagos, a cycle-top that looked fantastic in that fortnight of holiday-romance but once back home was as palatable as the Limoncello that tasted sweet as an alcoholic bonbons by the side of mountains reflected in a lake but too much like Toilet Duck in a damp grey England.

All of these laying unworn at the bottom of the jersey drawer, victims of fashion, poor taste and not matching anything, only touched and briefly but fondly remembered when they were turfed out looking for something else, just to be stuffed unceremoniously back in. But still deeply loved, pockets laden with smiles and impossible to be thrown away.

Pass the jerseys on to a domestique goddess who can thread magic into the mementoes and spin them a whole new life of cushions and toys.

There are some fools who say you can’t put your arms round a memory.


Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.

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