View from the Sofa: Blokes, bikes and the potential benefits of regular 'cyclotherapy'

BeSpoke, Radio 5 Live

Cycling appeals to a lot of men. There is a dazzling array of kit with technical-sounding names, plus all manner of accessories to adorn your bike with, from internet-connected route trackers to ergonomic hydration packs. Then there is the dressing-up-and-taking-on-the-world (or at least the double-decker bus and old person on the motor scooter) part of it that many enjoy on their daily commute.

This is not to imply that women have pretty little heads that are too full of home cooking and autumn sales at Zara to care about cycling. Far from it. It’s just that bikes and their bits draw in men with their fact-over-feelings brains, their intrinsic competitiveness, their love for gadgets, their... OK, I will stop before the letters come pouring in. Look, I am a man, I’m not that good at explaining myself.

Speaking of which, BeSpoke on BBC 5 Live told us of another reason why cycling should appeal to men. The hour-long magazine show, hosted by O J Borg, is informative and at times unashamedly blokey, with segments such as an appeal for listeners to reveal the most expensive or outrageous accessory they have bought (one of the guests admitted to purchasing an oxygen tent), along with in-depth discussions of races and events. Last week they even had cycling legend Graeme Obree on the show.

But the bit of last Thursday’s show that struck a chord was a piece with Dan Koeppel on the late comedian Robin Williams and his love of bikes.

Williams’ long battle with depression, which ultimately led to his death, has been well documented. But what wasn’t so well known is that he was an avid cyclist, a regular figure on the hills surrounding San Francisco and often at big races such as the Tour de France as a spectator.

He counted many professional riders among his friends, including Lance Armstrong (oh, to have eavesdropped on their conversations over the last couple of years), and, in the words of Koeppel, a cycling journalist who interviewed Williams many times, the actor would cut a “gorilla-like figure” riding next to the stick-thin elite riders near his California home.

Koeppel added on BeSpoke that cycling to Williams was a form of therapy. He speculated that his love of getting out on the road “might have kept Williams alive for longer than we may have expected. It is a comment on how strong the cycling drug can be.”

Was Koeppel right? Of course, it is impossible to know. But as Borg said, anyone who gets on a bike knows the feeling of escape and freedom it can bring. And the very fact that he and Koeppel were discussing a potential poultice for a disease that people – and men in particular – find it difficult to talk about in public was worthwhile.

And it gave us folk with a Y chromosome – who, incidentally have a suicide rate three times that of women – one more incentive to get on our bikes. As if the lure of Lycra, the siren song of Strava – even the draw of a derailleur – were not enough.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Accounts Executive

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Administrator / Secretary - South East

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor