I managed to get Pub Dave out on a ride today, just a Barling but I got him out and that's a bit of achievement. He's not really one of the group, despite my constant hectoring, but he is a very important person in my cycling life. To put it bluntly, without Pub Dave I wouldn't be cycling. As the name suggests PD is not your usual sporting inspiration but nonetheless he is.
PD and I watch football down the pub - he's Liverpool, I am Spurs. Obviously over the last ten years we have spent more time applauding his team and bemoaning mine. PD is a genuine scouser and not one of those southern reds who regularly opine in pubs with polished vowels which have never graced the Kop.
It was PD who started cycling first with a bloke he knew called Mick. I didn't really pay any attention to his new hobby - I liked the Tour on the telly but I didn't expect to ever have a skinny bike again, my last one had been stolen from our garden shed when I was about seventeen. Anyway, PD finally convinced me to do a local sponsored ride on my old hybrid. 30 miles later we agreed that we really ought to do it again. And so began the getting up early to ride.
PD, however, has never been a man to forgo the Saturday night pint and the packet of fags that goes with it. Prodigiously gifted at sport - National Squash champ at school, handy footie player, dab hand at golf, phenomenal table football player... you get the idea. But he does love his bed.
Two years ago, it was my 40th birthday, the previous year I had broken my knee in a freakish accident involving a puddle of orange juice on a lino floor. And a plan was hatched in the pub, where else? The Tour was due to arrive in Paris on the 29th July, my birthday was on the 28th, wouldn't it be cool to be in Paris on my 40th? Wouldn't it be cool to cycle into Paris on my birthday and watch the arrival of the peleton the next day? As I say, pub talk, and what with PD's inertia, no more.
I couldn't have been more wrong. PD and I went out one Sunday and worked out how he could ride the 20 miles to work without getting squashed by text messaging truckers and within a week he was putting in 200 miles a week.
The story of how we got to Paris can be saved for another day, suffice it to say we got to Paris on our bikes and it was all down to PD.