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Getting past Chris Froome

Getting past Chris Froome was so important to me.

Crucial, you might say.

I can hear you now, as you read this. “What is he talking about?”, “He’d never be able to get past Chris Froome – there’s no way!”

Well I have! And here’s how…

Of course, I’d never be able to cycle past, or go faster than the esteemed Mr. Froome (I do love his name, by the way, all sports stars should have onomatopoeic monikers). By ‘getting past’ him, I don’t mean in a race. I’m sure Chris would still beat me, on my bike, if he was on foot (again). What I’m talking about is getting past the image, in my head, that to be a ‘proper’ cyclist I needed to look like Chris Froome.

Let me explain. I’m a big fella, always have been. At primary school I was 6 foot plus and dwarfed the headmaster. I can still remember getting stuck when trying to climb under a school bench as part of a Sports’ Day obstacle race. It took a team of teachers and a lot of butter to release me. These days I’m 6 foot 5 and around 18 stone. My weight has been a lot heavier than its current level – through cycling I’ve lost around 5 stones.

The thing was, despite this impressive increase in fitness, I wasn’t happy.

Why?

Bloody Chris Froome.

I’d got it into my head that in order to be a cyclist of any proficiency (by which I mean someone who enjoys to ride in their spare time) I needed to look like Chris Froome. This was never, ever, ever going to happen. Chris has a completely different body type to me. He’s built like a whippet, 4 inches shorter and almost 8 stones lighter. If I lost 8 stones I doubt I’d be able to get onto a bike, never mind ride it. Do you see my point?

For too long I’d been beating myself with a (metaphorical) stick – beating myself with a literal stick sounded far too painful. I would look at myself in my cycling kit and shake my head. Why? Because, I’ll never be a lean-mean cycling-machine. At best I’ll be a bulky-hulky… well, you get the idea. When I put on bib tights I don’t bring Miguel Indurain to mind, I look more like Giant Haystacks (the wrestler). I’m always going to look slightly too big for my bike – and I ride a big bike. I’m never going to be a sprinter. My body doesn’t do that. Speedsuits don’t come in my size, mainly because people my size don’t travel fast!

So, recently, I’ve put Chris Froome to rest – I’ve got past him. I now look at myself in the mirror after a ride and still see a sweaty, slightly chubby, man in Lycra. I also see someone a lot fitter than I was, and that’s as a result of the cycling. I’m fine with that now. It’s a great place to be. To be fair to me, Chris Froome could never achieve my body shape either. Should someone want to shift a piano or need a fella to work a nightclub door, I’d be the first choice over Froome, every time.  Sorry Chris.

I hope you get past your own personal ‘Chris Froome’. There’s little point spending time worrying about what you’re not, when you could be focusing on what you are. As the much shared statement says: “I may be going slowly, but I’m still lapping everyone on the couch.”

Enjoy your riding…

Chris.

PS: I will get my own speedsuit one day – and be the world’s slowest TT racer – as soon as they figure out how to make stitching strong enough!

Chris McGuire is a Westcountry-based writer.

Follow him on Twitter @McGuireski He’s the guy who looks nothing, and we do mean nothing, like Chris Froome.

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