I feel the need to spread my wings. I don’t mean leave ‘NZ Autocar’ (heaven forbid) as the magazine would wither and die without my guiding hand.
But I believe I’m in a rut, and I need something new to shake me out of my complacency. “Get yourself a bike and feel the freedom,” the Doc suggested.
This sounded like pretty useful advice from our resident motorcycle expert. But then I remembered Peter’s experiences include a few off-bike incidents that may have reduced his cognitive powers somewhat. When I first met Pete he had an IQ bordering on genius level – after a few shunts he now struggles to understand why his six-letter words won’t fit in the daily Wordle puzzle.
“Perhaps next year, Pete” I soothed.
I wandered over to the office mood board, where Editor Kyle likes to pin images to inspire us. It used to be where I displayed my journalism awards and humanitarian laurels, but we found these had a demotivating effect on the rest of the staff. I idly flicked through the photos, looking for something to grab my imagination. There were the usual panoramic shots of locales Covid has kept us from, exotic foodstuffs and futuristic machinery. But there was also a newspaper clipping celebrating the Kiwi biathlon competitor who infamously skipped the Beijing Paralympics and boarded a Moscow flight to ‘go and sort Putin out’. You may remember the meme that circulated at the time – “Neither of these men has a leg to stand on”.
“That’s what’s missing in my life,” I thought to myself. “I need an Olympic medal.”
I mentioned this at the next staff meeting and it was not met with resounding support.
“Mate – these are finely-tuned athletes we’re talking about here; most of them have put in decades of training and toil.”
Fortunately I had anticipated this objection.
“That’s why I’m angling for one of the demonstration sports – it’ll be new for everyone involved.”
“Surely you’re not aiming for the breakdancing gong at Paris 2024?”
I mentally pictured myself spinning on my head, with my cap on back to front. Probably not a good look for someone of my advanced years. Plus it doesn’t do your cap much good.
“No – I’m targeting the Milano/Cortina Winter games in 2026.”
This generated hoots of derision – with the general consensus I’d have more chance targeting a Ford Cortina on the Southern Motorway. But I had done my homework.
“There’s a strong indication that there’ll be a motorised demonstration sport at the next Winter Olympics.”
This momentarily stopped the bleating as they all hit their favourite search engines. Apparently the winter games has flirted with powered sports in the past, trialling rocket-assisted luges at St Moritz and ice speedway at Sarajevo. I still remember the TV footage of the poor start marshal who was accidentally run over by the spiked tyres of the speedway bikes – he looked like he’d swallowed a porcupine.
The last attempt at combining motorsport and the Olympics had been the 1994 games at Lillehammer. Rally Norway was to run in the same vicinity but the powers-that-be were uncomfortable with professional WRC teams mixing it with the amateurs. I couldn’t help but feel that they’d missed a chance – the opportunity to expose our sport to an even greater audience.
But perhaps I would be the one to do it. Kyle had been keeping very quiet but came through with the news I wanted to hear.
“You’re right – they’ve pencilled in an inaugural snowmobile event for Milan. It looks right up your alley so I’ve just emailed your nomination through to the New Zealand Olympic committee.”
I thrust my arms in the air, imagining the respect and adulation of the admiring masses.
“What’s the event?” I enquired. “A 10km sprint? A 200km marathon?”
“No,” said Kyle, with unnecessary glee. “You’ll be launching off the biggest, steepest ski jump ever constructed. You did say you wanted to spread your wings, didn’t you Robbie?”