Reality TV meets cycling

Get together eight minor celebrities and train them to ride the 2016 Etape du Tour, in just two months. On the one hand Channel 5's Tour de Celeb sounds like yet another deeply contrived reality TV show, but on the other it's a show dedicated to cycling, on prime time TV, and it's not about pro racing. It shows just how far cycling has come from the days when the only time you saw anyone riding bike on TV was the Tour de France highlights or Kevin Keegan crashing on Superstars.

Last night's first instalment of Tour De Celeb featured Louie Spence throwing a massive strop when he went off track in a sportive; Lucy Mecklenburgh putting a big hole in her knee after falling while riding in traffic; Angelica Bell getting understandably freaked out by her first time on clipless pedals and Austin Healey confessing to being a sad bike nerd. None of us know what that's like at all. Ahem.

It's all quite good fun, played for reality TV drama, of course, and introduced with the predictable Dramatic Voice Over About The Huge Challenge The Celbrities Face. There was a disproportionate amount of death and danger though. Simon Warren hit the nail on the head:

Still, if you can remember what being a beginner cyclist was like, you have to feel sorry for the way the inexperienced riders were thrown in the deep end for a bit of drama. You'd think the world of reality TV would have learned something from 'The Jump'.

The obligatory team-building nonsense took out another of our celebs as Jodie Kidd, who seemed to be genuinely looking forward to getting to grips with riding bike, injured herself falling into shallow water. That segment was lightened by Louie Spence rolling around in the mud, but I could have done without watching Kidd hobble painfully off into the sidelines.

For the most part Tour De Celeb managed to make riding bike look like something you might actually do for fun, and the celebs who had some sort of sporty background seemed to be enjoying themselves tremendously. Let's hope over the next few weeks the less experienced riders get a chance to pick up some skills.

If you missed the first episode you can watch it at my5.com.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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