Sunday, 3 March 2013

The Actual Chris Boardman

A couple of weeks ago I went to a talk by Ned Boulting and cheekily headlined it "The Man, The Legend, The Chris Boardman Impersonator." Yesterday, I went to the Triathlon Show and the man himself was there, and I can report that the resemblance isn't just some trick of the TV. They really do look very similar. They also both have a similar demeanor: warm, self-deprecating and very easy to talk to.

In Boardman's case he pointed out that it was only his first time at the Tri Show, and that he'd never been invited to the London Bike Show. He speculated that he was too grumpy to get an invite.  I remember phoning him up 14 years ago from my student digs to ask for an interview. I didn't have anywhere lined up to publish it, and my dictaphone was in fact my flatmate Andy, who sat by the phone and diligently wrote down everything Boardman said as I repeated it. Despite the half-baked approach and parrot-like nature of the conversation, Boardman gave me two hours of his time, mid-season, and I still occasionally use clippings of the Procycling article that was the result.

He was equally forthcoming at the Tri Show. Everyone who queued up to speak to him got a decent chat and the chance for a photo. Like Ned, he also reckons that Wiggo's waging a psychological war against Chris Froome that Froome won't be able to cope with.

As far as the Tri Show is concerned, it was better than the London Bike Show though I feel slightly treacherous saying that. As a rule, I think Triathlon contains two sports too many, but despite its broader remit to cover swimming and running too, the Tri Show actually feels more focused than the London Bike Show's array of racing bikes, shopping bikes, folding bikes, porridge dealers, travel agents and charity recruiters. There's no such thing as a Triathlon Commuter, or a just-doing-a-Triathlon-to-the-shops, or a quick Triathlon round the park. Everyone at the Tri Show was an athlete of some sort or another, and everything at the show reflected that.

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