I am thrilled to be kicking off Kathleen Jowitt’s A Spoke In The Wheel blog tour 🙂
I have a fabulous guest post for you all…..
One day in May 2011 I stepped out of the railway station on my way home from work and found myself in the middle of a bicycle race.
I hadn’t been particularly interested in sports up to that point. I hated school PE, and my parents didn’t have a television, so I had no opportunity to follow professional sports even if I’d wanted to. At university, a friend got me into Formula One, but other than that I filed sport under ‘not my thing’.
Then came that spring evening when I got off the train in Woking, started walking home, and found my way blocked by a metal barrier.
A cyclist came past, a woman in her early twenties, obviously very fit, but also obviously suffering. Then another one. Then, a few minutes later, a whole bunch. I had no idea what was going on, who was winning, who was even riding, but I was fascinated. I applauded everybody who came past. I worked my way around the course to the finish line and learned that this was the Women’s Grand Prix Series, and that the men would race in the Tour Series later in the evening.
I went home and dragged my partner out to watch the men’s race with me.
‘Next year,’ I said when it was over, ‘we’ll watch the other stages, so we know what’s going on by the time it gets back to Woking.’
In 2012 I also followed the Tour de France for the first time. That was the one where Bradley Wiggins won the general classification, the first British rider ever to do so. But what really stuck with me was the image of David Millar in tears after winning a stage in Annonay-Davézieux, and talking about what that win meant to him, as an ex-doper who was now clean. This was a story that interested me. I was hooked.
That was the year of the London Olympics, of course, and by sheer good luck we were living about a mile from part of the road cycling race route. Well, that was my birthday weekend sorted. We cycled up to see the race go past (the men on the Saturday, the women on the Sunday) and then dashed home again to see the rest of it on television.
I haven’t looked back. Over the seven years since that first race I’ve travelled to York and to Walthamstow to see two different stages of the Grand Départ of the Tour de France, and to Bury St Edmunds to see the Women’s Tour get under way. I’ve sat on a blanket on my own front lawn, glass of wine in hand, as the Tour of Britain peloton passed by. I’ve got back on a bike myself, if only to get from home to the station. I’ve been enthralled, I’ve been disillusioned, and I’ve still got a lot of respect for David Millar. The Grand Prix Series and the Tour Series have left Woking, and so have I.
And I’ve written a book. A Spoke in the Wheel is about many things – it’s about disability, integrity, cycling, and people’s assumptions about all those things – but it wouldn’t have happened without that first race, that race I saw by accident, seven years ago.
Seven years as a cycling fan, and counting. It’s been one heck of a ride.
Thanks so much for taking the time to write this inspiring guest post for Chat About Books, Kathleen, and for the opportunity to kick off your blog tour 🙂
A Spoke in the Wheel
The first thing I saw was the wheelchair.
The first thing she saw was the doper.
Ben Goddard is an embarrassment – as a cyclist, as an athlete, as a human being. And he knows it.
Now that he’s been exposed by a positive drugs test, his race wins and his work with disabled children mean nothing. He quits professional cycling in a hurry, sticks a pin in a map, and sets out to build a new life in a town where nobody knows who he is or what he’s done.
But when the first person he meets turns out to be a cycling fan, he finds out that it’s not going to be quite as easy as that.
Besides, Polly’s not just a cycling fan, she’s a former medical student with a chronic illness and strong opinions. Particularly when it comes to Ben Goddard…
Kathleen Jowitt was born in Winchester, UK, and grew up deep in the Welsh Marches and, subsequently, on the Isle of Wight. After completing her undergraduate degree in English Literature at the University of Exeter she moved to Guildford and found herself working for a major trade union. She now lives in Cambridge, works in London, and writes on the train.
Her first novel, Speak Its Name, was the first self-published book ever to be shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize.
Social Media Links
Amazon author page
Check out the rest of the blog tour for reviews, and more, with these awesome book bloggers…..
Previous post, on Chat About Books, featuring Kathleen Jowitt and her books…..