The Gran Fondo - the big ride, or the Bowral Classic - is on again this Sunday. Run for the first time last year, the Bowral Classic is for cyclists and comes in three sizes - 160 km, 120 km or a leisurely 45 km doddle on a pushbike around the pretty Southern Highlands.
The Gran Fondo is very popular in Italy, where it all began in 1970 and apart from being a testing bicycle ride, tradition dictates a grand banquet for all at the finish. A very civilised sporting event indeed. What a great idea!
Those of you who have travelled in Europe or Scandinavia will know the bicycle is an integral part of the landscape.
In places like Amsterdam or Copenhagen the number of people cycling to work each morning is mind-boggling.
Around Amsterdam bicycles are the main form of transport in a canal town that would be a choked mess if everyone used cars. There are bikes chained to bridge railings, bikes outside shops, bikes on the footpath, bikes on the road and bikes by their thousands at the train station. Cyclists don't wear helmets and they don't wear lycra.
The bicycles in Amsterdam mostly come in black and many appear to have been built from spares, often with a decorated basket or milk crate to store things in, and of course, a bell. Bicycles make so much sense in a town with narrow streets, few car parking spaces and relatively flat terrain. Perfect for getting people to work or the shops.
Bicycles are like an extension of the body in Amsterdam as cyclists text two handed, chat and calmly weave through streets in a casual rhythm that could only have been developed after a lifetime of cycling. No wonder the locals all have little bums and great legs. Mind you, it must be rough riding on those cobbles. Although I am guessing bicycle riding on rocks is good for birth control and mercurochrome sales. Having said that, I am told the real reason blokes ride bicycles is to meet nurses.
Did you know that the bicycle was invented exactly 200 years ago this year?
So to celebrate the occasion and Sunday’s Bowral Classic, we should tell you about the day Dudley delivered the sermon at his local church.
In an attempt to involve his congregation the minister invited parishioners to give a sermon once a month.
Dudley was first cab off the rank. He didn’t know what to talk about, so decided the night before to deliver a sermon about bicycle riding.
Grace couldn’t be bothered going into church to listen to Dudley waffle on about bicycle riding so she just waited in the car until after they came out. When Dudley got into the church he changed his mind and talked about sex instead.
The congregation loved it.
“Gooday Grace,” said Clyde leaving the church. “You just missed a ripper sermon by Dudley.”
“You’re kidding Clyde. What would Dudley know about it? He talks big but he's only tried it twice in his life. Once before we were married and once after. And both times he fell off."
Which reminds me about Dudley and his Irish mate Mick sitting in a pub watching the Tour de France on television.
Mick shook his head and asked, "Why the hell do they do that?"
"Do what?" asked Dudley.
"Go on them boikes for moiles and moiles, up and down the hills, round the bends. Day after day, week after week. No matter if it's oicy, rainin', snowin', hailin'. Why would they torture themselves like that?"
"It's all about the glory and the money," said Dudley, pointing out that the winner gets about a half a million Euros and his name in the history books?
"Yeah, I understand that." said Mick, "But why do all the others do it?"
Anyhoo, enjoy the Bowral Classic on Sunday. Rather you than me, although that big banquet at the end sounds alright, doesn't it?