Performance: 22/10/17, Brighton
After specifically requesting that no one reviews Bikeology as they would review the joys of a perfect hub or gear ratio, I did. My sincerest apologies to Ned Boulting, but, just like the UCI, I like to be flexible with rules.
Initially jarring to put a face and body to the voice that accompanies spectators through the colossus that is the Tour de France, Boulting soon warmed to the crowd and launched into a dissection of cycling itself, grappling with what continues to fascinate me about the sport and its fervent, cultish following. Just what is it about bikes that joins and divides so many people? Lycra doesn’t just happen to a person.
The show was split into two distinct halves, the first about just what it is about bikes that joins and divides so many people; lycra doesn’t just happen to a person. The second half was dedicated to reliving the one and only Tour de France.
Some passages were impressive simply because of the pace and vigour with which they were delivered. Boulting could race through commentary faster than Kittel could win yet another bunch sprint and his passion alone could carry the show through to success. At times genuinely poetic and constantly amusing, Bikeology was a well balanced mix of cycling geekery, historical diversions and piss taking. Chris Boardman and Boulting’s commentary box companion David Millar took the brunt of a great number of digs and jibes, and the behind the scenes insights into the unforgiving commentary box always proved amusing.
As usual, Brighton offered a warm crowd and as a collective unit Brighton beat Michael from Sheffield in Boulting’s lighthearted Mastermind skit, where, usually, (unless the city decides against it, as Brighton did) an audience member volunteers before the show to show off their cycling knowhow in a quick fire quiz. Although the odds were stacked against Michael purely due to numbers over knowledge, a win is a win. There must be a jersey for that. A slightly bittersweet perk, albeit unrelated to the show itself, was that there was no queue for the women’s toilets, an event rarer than seeing the maillot jaune on anyone else but Froome. Having heard several women vocally dreading the evening set out ahead of them before sitting down, I was unsurprised to sit in a sea of male spectators. Even with Bikeology’s undeniably niche appeal, the combination of Boulting’s affable personality, impassioned delivery and his constant efforts to include cycling experts and novices alike, a quality reflected in his coverage of the cycling season, proves this show has definitely got legs.