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Fame At Last (or the real reason cyclists shave their legs)

This is a story about a cycling club in the Surrey Hills. Pretty boring subject matter, huh?

Tell that to the two (correct: TWO) film crews who travelled to Godalming this year to film the FIASCO peloton in all its glory.

Not that we went looking for them, you understand. Barely a year into our existence as a club we were happy enough to get some big events under our belts while exploring the countless beautiful climbs on our doorstep.

Little did we know that film crews are very much like London buses. You wait around for a few months and suddenly two come along at once. (Indeed, in one case they came a very long way indeed.)

The story begins with a phone call. The Secretary (that’s me) was schlepping through a normal working day – which is to say tinkering in his bike shed – when a friendly Antipodean voice asked to speak to Richard Price.

‘Speaking,’ I grunted, reaching for a rag to wipe the oil from my hands. ‘Oh great! We’ve been trying to contact you for weeks. What would you say to being in a film?’

Now the only reason anyone might like to get footage of me, generally speaking, is to exact some sort of revenge. So like any sane journalist who has ever tackled the cult of Scientology, I immediately declined.

Twenty minutes and a 180 degree U-Turn later I was signing up the entire FIASCO peloton for an intriguing movie project.

The gentlemen of FIASCO, it turns out, are catnip for film makers. For within days another film crew were knocking on our door, metaphorically speaking, asking to come and film the club in action.

And so it came to pass that on two weekends in May and June we took first a fleet of Skoda vehicles and then a genuine Tour de France moto on a tour of our local lanes.

First up came the Skoda crew. As sponsors of the Tour de France – and its amateur sportive cousin, L’Etape du Tour – they were seeking inspirational stories about regular punters who love to ride.

That’s FIASCO for you. Regular to a fault, we make it our business to do nothing which could be even vaguely described as remarkable.

It was a blast. Led by their effortlessly cool director, Giuloi di Blasio, the crew managed to drive a van inches ahead of the two cyclists heading the FIASCO peloton, weaving and honking their way up Beacon Hill and beyond.

They had travelled to Godalming from Prague, which was flattering, though the sheer size of their entourage came as a surprise. Over a million Facebook views later, the footage definitely ended up justifying the means.

I could go on but far better (and more interesting) for you to watch the end product here.

A couple of weeks later we were back in action, this time with our Antipodean pals. An award winning team from Melbourne, they specialise in making feature documentaries. Last time around it was about ballroom dancing, now they are making a movie about MAMILs.

Middle Aged Men In Lycra? That’s us all right. So we spent another agreeable weekend pootling around with a film crew in tow. This time, however, the risk was all on the part of the cameraman, who was on the back of a motorbike ridden by a veteran of the professional peloton.

(Unlike the Skoda shoot, during which had anything gone wrong myself and David ‘Bomber’ Payne would have ended up flying headlong into the back of the van.)

They asked a lot of questions, seemed genuinely interested in our take on why cycling has become such a global phenomenon in recent years, then headed off to Los Angeles for the next leg of their tour.

The film, we are told, will be out in the springtime, released initially in cinemas like one of those Louis Theroux specials or Supersize Me. It’s an in-depth look at MAMILdom, taking in examples from as far afield as Sydney, Shanghai, San Francisco and Surrey.

The working title was Holding the Wheel, though one suspects that once they have met their thousandth MAMIL the final choice will be rather less complimentary. (Supersize Me 2 perhaps?)

Looking back on the experience it seems slightly surreal. Was it a good idea? I think so (though some Fiasci may not agree).

In the final analysis it is not possible to choose how others will portray or perceive you, so there is really no point worrying about it.

If our goal was to spread the cycling gospel then it is a case of mission accomplished.

And as I examined the close up footage of my gleaming legs, spinning in slow motion on a borrowed Wyndymilla Massive Attack, it answered a question which has troubled me for years.

So that’s why serious cyclists tell you to shave your legs. It’s pure aesthetics, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar.

Richard ‘pass the razor’ Price

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