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Bikes and Babies

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My name is Gary Kemp and I'm a road cyclist. I'm not looking for a cure, just an excuse to do it as much as possible. I resigned myself to this addiction long ago.

As birds begin to re-discover their song and Tarmac becomes sticky with the falling dew of budding trees, the Lycra-clad roadie reaches for his shaving cream and attempts to remove the thick, bee-catching hair that has formed around his legs during winter. This act will almost certainly upset my wife, who considers such things the territory of transvestites; but as I trickle blood down the plughole, the approval of my roadie peers is uppermost in my mind; after all, the aesthetics of riding, along with its tribal camaraderie, are why I came here in the first place.

Bib-shorts are donned prematurely and my shivering chicken flesh is spun ceremonially into the rising mists of late winter. 'Training' has begun.

Of course I'm not just a road cyclist. If I'm honest - to use the phrase of my father's generation - it's a hobby, but please don't let any of my discerning bike buddies hear that. If you see us out on our metal steeds, we are 'training', and if we are not training we are 'recovering'. Rarely do any of us ride anything more serious than a sportive - a highly competitive yet essentially meaningless seven hours attempting to empty our bodies of its resources around a lumpy part of the British Isles - but the need to constantly train is uppermost in a roadie's mind.

We are obsessed with it. You'd never hear a roadie say "I'm just popping out for some fun on my bike", or going "Wheeee!" while descending a hill. Training turns cycling into a job of work; something earnest, painful; it eases our guilt - and oh boy, am I guilty! My wife and I have just increased our brood of young children to three, and chamois-creaming my crotch while she's soothing the baby's nappy rash just doesn't seem right.

Unfortunately training is all about length, but surreptitiously slipping out unnoticed for four to five hours is just not possible, especially as the pram and bike are parked next to each other. Riding on guilt is worse than doing it on an empty stomach. And let's not forget, training also has to end with at least two large macchiatos, a chat about racing, your near misses and... oh yes, training.

But can you blame me for worrying? This year I'm down for two cycling trips to Europe. The first is to join Lawrence Dallaglio and Freddie Flintoff on the Swiss Alpine section of their SLAM ride, which sees them going from Olympia in Greece to our own Olympic Stadium. The other is a five-day trip across the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Med. This is not for charity and is the main reason why I'm fretting.

Recently someone suggested an answer to my lack of time: apparently Lance Armstrong's coach developed a method of short-ride training using higher intensities. It's known as interval training. The trouble is, with the new baby and two other small boys, the only regime I currently seem to be perfecting is interval sleeping!

Pass the nappy cream.

The Lyrics of Gary Kemp are available to buy as signed copies from www.garykemp.com and also Spandau Ballet's first four albums will be released on 16 April as a box set available from www.spandauballet.com

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