GUY HENDERSON: Sideburns make up for a bad mo
By Herald Express | Thursday, November 15, 2012, 07:00
MOVEMBER is in full swing now, and all over the land there are gentlemen showing off handsome facial hair.
For the duration of the 11th month of the year, the idea is that chaps grow moustaches for 30 days. It draws attention to, and raises funds for, men's health issues such as prostate cancer.
It also draws attention to those chaps who can grow moustaches, and those chaps who cannot.
I have a team taking part in Movember. The team is called the South Devon Flaming Moes, in honour of the tavern in Springfield, home of the Simpsons. Feel free to join the team if you can find it online. The more the merrier.
Some of the team members are sporting luxuriant moustaches, a little over two weeks into the month of Movember.
There are teams members all over the country, and supporters as far afield as the United States. There are trim moustaches that fit exactly along the line of the upper lip, there are attempts at a handlebar style, and there are drooping moustaches of the kind known as a Viva Zapata.
As team captain I feel I should be setting an example.
However, my moustache is resisting all efforts to urge it into life. It's there, for sure, because I can feel its presence as a kind of toothbrush bristle twixt nose and mouth.
The trouble is, it's almost invisible.
Being a chap of ginger colouring, my moustache manifests itself in the palest of colours at the best of times, even more so now that I am greying just a little. No matter how full the growth, a moustache of ginger/grey colours is never going to be easy to spot.
So while the members of my team are currently flooding Facebook with pictures of their excellent soup-strainers, I have yet to produce anything that would register on even the most sensitive of camera lenses.
I may have to resort to dyeing it in order for it to become visible.
The same cannot be said, however, of my Bradley Wiggins Tribute Sideburns, which have been working their way down the sides of my face since the Tour de France back in the summer.
It seemed like an agreeably daft idea at the time, to see if I could grow effective tributes to Britain's greatest road cyclist just forward of each ear. I would wear them proudly while riding around the roads of South Devon for a week or two, then creep up on them one morning in the shower when they were least expecting it and shave them off.
The trouble is that I have grown quite fond of them.
Unlike my moustache, they have grown in quite a dark ginger colour. Sometimes, in a certain light, I do look a little like an older and more distinguished Bradley Wiggins. At most other times I look more like the brother Noddy Holder out of Slade doesn't talk about.
The Bradley Wiggins Tribute Sideburns had a good outing at the weekend.
You will know, of course, that the great man himself was knocked off his bike last week while out on a training ride, suffering some rib and finger injuries. His finger got better quite quickly, because he showed it to all the photographers who had gathered to see him leave the hospital.
The incident sparked all kinds of debates in the papers and on TV and radio. On one morning phone-in show degenerated into a full-scale slanging match as a cyclist demanded better behaviour from motorists and a motorist argued that cyclists should just take their bikes up to the local tip and buy some golf clubs instead.
The answer, of course, lies somewhere in between. The same evening, while I was driving home, turning the matter over in my head, I had almost made up my mind in favour of cyclists.
Then I saw a chap zoom across the Lawes Bridge junction, wearing a dark hoodie pulled up over his head and riding a dark-coloured bicycle with no lights, nor even a red rear reflector. Furthermore, he nipped through a red light by hopping up on to the pavement and using that to get round the corner.
It is hard to make a case for the careful, considerate cyclist when there are idiots like that about.
I resolved to make careful mental notes during our weekend rides, just to see how dangerous or otherwise the whole cycling process might be in South Devon.
There was a certain amount of good-natured banter with a couple of drivers, but I only actually feared for my life twice.
Once was when I was undertaken by a taxi on Torquay seafront. I had chosen the seaward lane of the road in front of Rock Walk, thinking that would keep me out of the way of traffic. The trouble is, that lane boasts some very severe speed bumps, which a cyclist must avoid if he or she is to stay upright.
I went to the right of one of the bumps, at which the taxi sped up on my left and shot past.
He stopped abruptly outside the public toilets, so I'm guessing his need was greater than mine. It didn't stop me from explaining the error of his ways in a couple of succinct words and waving him on his way to the gents with a traditional Agincourt hand signal.
The other time was on the back road between Totnes and Newton Abbot when a flat-out motorbike passed me on a left-hander. I was tucked well in beside the hedge, which was a good job because as he leaned through the corner at many, many miles per hour he passed close enough for his displaced air to make me wobble precariously. I would have given him the benefit of an Agincourt salute, but by the time I had composed myself again and emerged from the muddy edge of the road he was just a dot in the distance.