The Good, the bad and the Ugly 


[Artists rendition of Fabio. Original artist retains copyright]

Tall, athletic, with perfect poise, long blonde hair and super-tight brilliant white trousers (no VPL) and white vest. Fabio knelt on the massage table astride my right leg, his thumbs needing vigorously on a particularly tender spot on my hamstrings.Earlier he had ordered all of his colleagues to put down their healing hands and gather around my table to inspect the worst case of ‘not stretching’ he had ever seen. I lay  face down, in my pants starring at the unhoovered carpet. They all nodded knowingly. Two even took the liberty of touching the tightest hamstrings that Fabio had ever professionally encountered.

The room was 5m square with one door and no windows. There were 4 other exhausted cyclist with 4 other (less opinionated) masseuses working quietly to soothe tired muscles. At the open door 2 other men in underwear and one uncomfortable but fully dressed north American lady stood waiting their turn on the table.

The next words that Fabio uttered aloud were

‘There first thing you must do after this massage is take a bath’.

There was a audible intake of breathe in the room. I wish I could say he broke the silence by explaining that he felt it would soothe my damaged muscle. The silence continued.  I waited for the ground to swallow me up but the Fabio intervened.

He sighed in surrender, released his grip on my thigh and in one smooth gymnastic movement leapt from his kneeling position to land on his feet, legs apart to the side of the massage table.

‘I will change your orientation!’ He announced.

‘Better men then you have tried Fabio ‘ I was about to say when …

In an instant he turned me on my side, my face poised at his groin. He pulled my knees up and toward him, he embraced me with his left leg, securing  my legs. He laid his shoulder, arm and chest across my torso and twisted my upper half and my lower half in the opposite directions. There was a audible crunching noise.

The tension in the room about my personal hygiene vanished, replaced with a different tension. My fellow inmates were silent. Wondering if I was still alive but too frightened to intervene in case it drew Fabio’s attention to them.

Ten minutes later my relaxing complementary massage was over. I can’t recall any complements but I have to say that despite the vigour and the crunching noises it was pain free. Fabio had one parting shot however.

‘You don’t stretch! It is lucky that I found you. You would never have been able to finish. Now if I can help you every night you might have a chance of finishing in Venice.

‘No, no, no Fabio, you know nothing about Tuco!’

There are two types of people in this world, my friend. Those that quit and those that don’t quit.

And besides he didn’t find me. I found him. There was a 5 foot improvised sign in the lobby that read “FREE MASSAGES FOURTH FLOOR”

I thanked Fabio and left. There was 6 days of hard cycling left but I knew I would be finishing.

P.S. The following day while struggling up the Nuffenen pass I was a minor celebrity.

‘Your the guy that had the massage with me last night. Me and Gary didn’t think you’d start today. Are you okay? Did it hurt.? He told everyone to take a bath and that shy American lady was after you …

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Product placement 

I am not the only high profile inspirational blogger who is taking part in Haute Route 2016. HR Facebook’s page recently brought this truly inspirational athlete/motivational speaker/ model and blogger to my attention.

 Looking at her blog Challenge Sophie I see that following a pivitol life event she decided to give up her job and now travels the world doing endurance events with the endorsement of several key brands. Truly moving and inspirational.

I plan to continue my blog as a independent voice in cycling. I too have a inspirational story of courage. 

In the past I had dedicated myself to my career. I found myself working 50 hours per week, drinking to relax, I was overweight and worrying about keeping the show on the road. I was always overdrawn despite the long hours I  was working. 

Then a friend said something to me that inspired great change in me.

 These words changed my life and unlike Sophie’s friend he didn’t rip them off someone else (My apologies to Sophie if her friend is in fact John A. Shred who published that aphorism about ships in the harbour in his book ‘Salt from my attic” in 1928. I digress, my friend said to me

“Peter, you’re so overweight that when you fall asleep the soft tissue in your neck relaxes and blocks your windpipe. You should consider loosing weight”.

Truly inspirational words.

I now cycle 8 hours per week, work 50 hours per week, drink alcohol to relax, worry, I am overweight and very overdrawn because of all the money I spend on stuff for my bike. 

Now if only I took a good selfie someone might send me some new Oakleys or a Pinarelo

What about this  Rapha cream and Rapha embrocation? (Paid for with my own money). Both great products.The cream protects your bits from chaffing and does smell of Provance (5/5). The embrocation does protect from harsh Irish conditions (4.9/5). One small tip though, store them separately as if the embrocation touches your genitals they tingle warmly. (Don’t think Sophie would use the word Genitals in her blog).