It was pure unadulterated sporting euphoria at Lee Valley VeloPark, East London, at the iconic 6,000-seat velodrome, where Team GB set the world on fire at the 2012 Olympic Games. And we were there this Sunday, far from the madding crowd of politics, referendums, debates and the looming doom of climate change or financial collapse, just watching the world's greatest track cyclists hit the boards for the final day of the UCI Track Cycling World Championships 2016. I call this cycling therapy; whether you're on the bike yourself or watching someone else on it, after this last buzz of success for Team GB, I'm starting to think we can't get too much of it: what the world needs now is... more cycling.
I have to admit I could watch Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish forever, amongst all the other greats, like Jason Kenny, Laura Trott, Ed Clancy, and medal winners Jon Dibben, Andy Tennant, Becky James and the rest of the ever-growing list of British cycling heroes, past and present, road and track, and I feel like I have. But Sunday was the crowning glory for two of cycling's greatest ever sportsmen, who are now known on twitter as #Legends.
Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish came together for the last time to take gold in the final event, the Madison, on the final day, after 100 laps of the most nail-biting competition which saw Cavendish hit the deck and bounce back on the bike as if nothing had happened, and then go onward to a victory which has been described as "electrifying" "sensational" and "unforgettable."
It was certainly all of those things, especially if you were lucky enough to be close enough to see the whites of their eyes, the bristles of their beards, and the baring of teeth like tigers, though smiling tigers, and ready to pounce. Yes, Wiggins was smiling and it was thrilling. He said himself, "I was foaming at the mouth the last 10 laps." We could see it; we could see everything. The beyond-belief-bike-handling, the power, the intensity of focus, the working out of the plan, the teamwork, the fluidity, that straight as an arrow back of Wiggins, the hunched form of Cavendish like some wild cat, the complete determination, as if they bore the whole weight of the will of the crowd on their backs. And they did! And this in the context of moving from fifth to first place within minutes. Breath-taking doesn't explain it. "What a spectacle", Shane Sutton, GB's technical director, summed it up. Spectacle indeed. There's nothing like the roar of a crowd in a velodrome.
Prior to the event, Wiggins was quoted as saying "We'll have a go at it". No, they killed it. After racking up points in each of the sprints, super dream team that they are, Wiggo and Cav made their move in the final 20 laps. He said afterwards, "The roar ... when it was looking like we were going to get a lap... To send all those people away happy is such a nice feeling, it really is."
Well they sure did. And we were happy to see them happy and their families happy. All the highs and lows of both careers, mostly highs, we've watched them all. And the fame that came was not much fun for Bradley after 2012. But now, as he said, his long and distinguished career has come full cycle.They first won this same race in 2008 and since, have " gone on to conquer the world". It was good to hear Cavendish call this "one of the greatest wins of my career". We're happy. They're happy. You do wonder if an elite athlete whose whole life is geared to winning can ever be completely happy. We hope they savour this one for a long time to come.
Like I said, the beautiful sport of cycling: we need more of it.