The Armchair Series #4- ‘I promise to learn those historical lists by heart before ever setting foot in a comms box again’
April 27, 2020
Described by the Telegraph as the ultimate love letter to road cycling, The Road Book is proud to present The Armchair Series, showcasing in their own words what our customers most love about The Road Book and how it is a must for the discerning cycling nerd.
José Been (Netherlands)
The world is in lockdown. Some countries are stricter than others though. Luckily my country of the Netherlands is basically built on bikes so we can ride outside. Alone. No groups. But we ride.
The lack of cycling until at least 1 July means I am out of a job too. I write the occasional background article, digging deeper into the problems women’s cycling faces or introducing bright new prospects of the women’s peloton to the public. But for the most part I ride, binge on Criminal Minds, cook, clean, wash, do some shopping and walk the dogs. It’s all great for a while but this is already my off-season regime. Then I always know Spring Classics are coming. I didn’t want to repeat the Winter routine in Spring and Summer.
But it is what it is.
The brain easily gets rusty and the thrills and joy of cycling become a distant memory. Cue The Road Book. Apart from the fact it’s an excellent device for weight lifting (it’s heavy, and I mean heavy!) so you can use it in your home gym it’s an impressive piece of work.
Flipping through The Road Book makes you dream of those wonderful race days last year. A result brings back a memory, a story jolts a sensation you had that particular day. It adds temperature, rain showers, snow storms on Turkish mountains and heaps of trivia. It also briefly brings back the main news stories from the world at that time. Add a dash of imagination and the best cycling pictures in the middle of the book and you can relive some of 2019’s magic.
The Road Book is so much more than just a book full of names and numbers. Disclaimer: To sooth my pet peeve I checked them all. They got all the capital Vs, vs, Ds and ds in the Dutch and Belgian surnames right. All. Of. Them. Even Wout van Aert.
The Road Book contains beautiful long-reads too. Stories I have all the time in the world now to read.
I was particularly touched by Bob Roll’s homage to his life-long friend, race buddy and colleague Paul Sherwen. I never knew Paul personally nor did I ever listen to his race commentary. I got to know him through the massive number of tweets and social media posts when he passed away in December 2018. What an amazing person you would have had to be to deserve such an enormous outpour of grief and appreciation.
Judging from Bob Roll’s heartfelt story Paul Sherwen was exactly that: an amazing person. A funny but warm guy who always looked out for you.
The 2019 results and stories are great and will keep you reminiscing and dreaming of cycling days again, but I particularly loved the historical results. I am not the kind of commentator who can tell you who won the 1984 Tour of Flanders. If I need to know, I’ll google. I always chose to spend my time on getting to know the current peloton, both men and women, both track and cyclocross. That’s a job in itself.
Of course, I read up on historical facts before going live but I just don’t have the facts ready to go. That once led to a particularly awkward situation. I spent the day in the team car with Eric Van Lancker one day, then sports director of Garmin. I casually asked him whether he had had a successful career. I will never forget that look. It taught me to casually check google before meeting new people in cycling. The Road Book has pages of historical winners and I promise to learn those historical lists by heart before ever setting foot in a comms box again.
To those who also didn’t know who Eric Van Lancker is, check pages 756 and 787 to start with.
The Road Book ends with a list of obituaries of those we lost after a long and fruitful life and those who went far too soon. No matter how impressive the 2019 cycling year was with a spectacular Tour de France, that amazing Amstel Gold Race, Wout van Aert in the Tour and Remco Evenepoel filling the hearts of Belgian cycling fans with hope, Marianne Vos back at the top and impressive new world champions like Quinn Simmons, Megan Jastrab, Mads Pedersen, Chloé Dygert and of course Annemiek van Vleuten. For me 2019 will be remembered by that one day in Poland where a bright young cyclist lost his life due to an accident. We leave Bjorg Lambrecht in 2019, along with all the memories and all the dreams of what could have been.