Despite what you might think initially, Jock Rash isn’t actually an overly enthusiastic or impulsive Scot. Life would probably be considerably more comfortable for me if he, or more precisely it, was.
Sadly, the reality is much more down to earth. Well, if not exactly down to earth, down somewhere not usually discussed in polite society.
When the Tour of Britain cycle race reaches its thrilling climax in Aberdeen tomorrow (September 12), I regrettably won’t be there to see it. I had every intention of joining the crowds thronging the route from Stonehaven to the city, via swathes of the glorious Aberdeenshire countryside, but it isn’t to be.
My best-laid plans haven’t come up to scratch. Or rather, they have, but not as I intended. That’s a real pain, literally, as I’ve been a big bicycle fan ever since my first trike, with pedals sticking out from the front wheel, arrived from Santa one Christmas morning many years ago.
My range of bikes over the years was progressively a passport to freedom, a means of exploring the beautiful countryside around my childhood home, a cheap and environmentally sensible form of transport, and also an enjoyable healthy way to keep my body in shape.
Not necessarily the shape I aspire to, I must confess. I’m still more a bacon and egger than a Schwarzenegger.
No matter, in recent years I’ve been happy to be seen in public as a “mamil” – a middle-aged man in Lycra – ignoring unkind comparisons to a Michelin advert.
My grand plan for this weekend was to cycle all the way from Fyne Place to stand by the Tour route, among masses that would put the average weekly attendance at Pittodrie to shame, and cheer on the incredible athletes who will have completed 815 gruelling racing miles from Penzance by the time they arrive at the Granite City’s seafront.
OK, so if I couldn’t cycle all the way, perhaps I could drive to a spot nearby, park inconspicuously, then clamber on the bike and make it look as though I’d cycled for miles.
You see, I don’t do hills. Something about my power to weight ratio, apparently. Basically, my weight is greater than my legs can propel me upwards, dammit.
I’m astonished that cyclists from Belgium or the Netherlands, where hills are rarer than memorable melodies at a Stormzy concert, can whizz up them as though they don’t exist. Not so me. I do more walking uphill than pedalling, pretending to any passing motorists that I’ve instead just paused for a quick drink from my bidon.
I obviously need more training and more miles on the bike, so this week I pedalled away from home for the first time in many months, full of good long-distance intentions. I hadn’t bargained on the speedy arrival of the aforementioned jock rash – not a fellow cyclist but a distinctly uncomfortable complaint that roughly equates to sledging stark-naked down a Saharan sand dune, without a sledge.
It means I now walk like actor John Wayne and would be totally unable to halt an escaping pig in a narrow passageway.
Bearing in mind also that the saddles of most racing bikes are instruments of torture, not comfort, if unused to them, cycling anywhere now would require me to rely on vast quantities of petroleum jelly, chamois-leather underpants and somewhere discreet well away from prying eyes to apply either of them.
I’ll just watch the race live on TV but, in traditional cycling style, shout “Chapeau!” to those who cross the finish line.
My embarrassing discomfort is a pity as I’ve read that Aberdeen University is currently looking for folk to donate their bodies to medical research and training. Knowing that my body is like a Greek temple – in an advanced state of decay with bits falling off daily – I am tempted.
Students might find it fascinating to dissect my crumbling cadaver and conclude that had things been different, they might have been in the presence of two-wheeled greatness.
They’d likely get a laugh at the state of my usually unseen saddle-sore spots.
It’s a bit of a bummer for me, but like Schwarzenegger, I’ll be back. Declaring exactly when might be a bit rash, though.