an evening with bradley wiggins
Sunday 6th October 2019
He divides opinions but that's because he probably speaks how he sees it and obviously with all points of view, some will agree, some will disagree. His role as a live action reporter on the back of that motorbike for Eurosport for le Tour showed his comedic side to his intriguing persona. Whether you're a fan of Bradley Wiggins or you can't stand him, he is one of Britain's most talented and successful cyclists of modern times. We were grateful to be given the opportunity to catch the last night of his tour...
This is your life or Celebrity Juice?
We also took the opportunity to catch up with a good friend of our Ali who has informed us he now doesn't own a bike! Can we put a crowdfund campaign together for him please?! We both went into it not knowing what to expect. Would it just be about his career, achievements and aspirations or will he dive into some insights into the professional world of cycling?
Turned out to be a bit of both really. Matt Barbet hosted and posed the scheduled questions to Bradley but there would be a chance for the audience to ask some of their own too later in the evening. The chairs on stage was accompanied by his TdF winning Pinarello (we think it was the real one!) and a range of cycling apparel. At first I thought and probably like many others it was all the maillot jaunes he had won but it was actually collectable jerseys from past winners including some very rare and valuable ones.
The first half of this show was about Brad's progression from the council estate kid to the TdF and Olympic Champion of 2012. I was working at a sports camp literally 5 miles from Hampton Court the day he won the TT title, I sprinted for my life to catch a glimpse of him powering through the course but missed him by about 10 minutes, gutted especially as a couple of my other friends snagged a nice little spot outside the Bushy Park gate! Seeing him in the flesh for the first time, he's a tall guy, a little more bulkier these days due to his other interests. He spoke about how he was using the rower to keep fit and a journalist had asked him at the time if he was thinking of competing again but on the water, he thought it would be funny to let the story run!
One part which we were aware of but hearing it from his own words hit home a little harder was his childhood and his relationship with his father. He has always been open he was not a fan of his father but accepted an ironic fate that if his father did not leave him and his family when he was young, he might of never got into cycling. One story which we found sad to hear was the fact he had to circle his estate coming back from training multiple amount of times to make sure he wasn't to be jumped by other boys that he knew.
The interview was broken up with short montages but it was interesting to see how Brad was interacting with the audience. He doesn't seem overly comfortable in these situations despite in the past showing an extrovert interior. There's a vulnerability about him which I think people mistake for unpredictability, he even commented that people class him as unpredictable where he believes he is far from it. I think it's down to not conforming to how a typical pro' cyclist may behave in front of the media. He is a lover of the mod culture and a music fan in particular anything to do with the Paul Weller era it seems. It seemed the evening was set up for a few insights even gossip from his career but he was careful to reign himself in when asked topical questions. For instance, he didn't condone what Lance Armstrong did in his career but held him in high regard using his 1993 World Championship as one of the many reasons which spurred him on to chasing his own dream.
What's the meaning of this?
I couldn't help wondering what influenced Brad to go on tour to share his experiences and insights. From one perspective, it's a wise financial move. Thanks to his opinions and many successes, a lot of people are drawn to him and want more of him. The snippets on that motorbike maybe whetted the appetite of much of the audience who wanted more of the same. His own domestic team - Team Wiggins - are folding at the end of this season for reasons many are unaware of but it has to be said they are were not the first British domestic outfit to announce closure for 2019 so a matter of funding wouldn't be a surprise factor behind the decision to pull them. We were tempted to pose this question to him in the second half of the show but the guy with the mike was too quick for us as he moved around the theatre. Brad also has his own apparel range with Le Col who are definitely a made good go at snatching Rapha's crown as the premium go to brand.
So it is safe to say he has had some business interests off the bike all geared towards cycling and it's naive not to assume this was also an income generator. But what I think he hoped to get across to the audience that he wanted to wrap up the cycling aspect to his life and he wanted to remould himself in a completely different light. He is currently undertaking a degree in social work with the Open University, you can see he is inspired to show the next generation that success is not measured by medals and trophies but by the impact you leave as a human, something we can get right behind. In all fairness, it's refreshing for someone who has been in the spotlight for such a long time in his career set these particular set of ideals for his own children. Not sure I fully agree with smashing some of his trophies in front of them though, we are still quite fond of the awards we have collected throughout our life no matter how big or small, it reminded us the feeling we experienced and how we wanted to experience that again or influence others to feel the same way. But we can see where he's coming from though, he respects his achievements and his accolades but he wants his children to become their own person and work for their own successes and own them outright, not jump on his name which is one of the reasons he explained why he stays away from his son's own bike races. He feels him being there will take away the attention for his son and he doesn't want to maybe corrupt his son's progress with the diversion of focus onto Brad if he was there spectating. I found that too slightly sad that he felt he couldn't go watch his own son race, a curse of being famous I suppose.
Where to now then?
Well, apart from the bar (Matt and Brad had been drinking Heineken all night but doubt they had to fork out £6 for the tiny thing though!), it sounds like he's fully motivated and capable of becoming a social worker. I was trying to think of how many sports professionals I could name after they retired, threw themselves into a completely different direction of employment? Struggled. You hear footballers going into the property business or owning horses but that's a completely different line of work and it's more with money, how can I make more money?! Brad hasn't forgotten his roots and he has accepted without them, his life may not of turned out the way he has lived it. It's clear he had some bad experiences growing up and he doesn't want that cycle to repeat itself with his children or others. He said something relating to his father (who was actually murdered in Australia - Brad spoke how he was slightly unhinged and within the wrong crowds) which was you either turn out to be your father or something completely opposite. Breaking that cycle of poor parenting takes a lot of open mindedness, courage and self-awareness of knowing not take that direction on his part. I hope with confidence and it seems that way that he won't copy his father's mistakes.
I came away from the evening intrigued by his outlook on cycling and in life in general. He definitely has an aura about him people want more of. But it seems he is aware he has a social vulnerability especially with such a public audience and maybe due to past antics, he has prevented himself from ranting on or giving too much away because there was definitely another side or another level of opening up we didn't see and why should we? At the end of the day, he is human like the rest of us, he just so happened to have an amazing career and inspired a generation to get on their bike.