CYCLING WIDOWS 2 – Sneak Peek 2


With the Tour de France in full swing, Cycling Widows are bound to need another injection from my forthcoming Cycling Widows sequel which launches on Saturday, 1 August.

So if the soul-crushing pedal-strokes and commentary of the Tour de France have got you reaching for the gin, here’s a second Sneak Peek, taken from chapter 2 of the book – WAKE UP & SMELL THE… Splutter, Splutter! (Who Needs Coffee to Wake you up When you Have the Heady Stench of Sweaty Cycling Kit)…

…in this chapter, I’m taking a look at one of those hidden hazards that affects the Cycling Widow: the noxious effects of what I call ‘skank’, or sweaty cycling gear. You won’t find this word in any dictionary – not yet, at least – because I made it up. But just think of it this way: in terms of smell, ‘skank’ is a short step up from ‘skunk’.

Now, I’ll admit, maybe not all Cycling Widows are adversely affected by this skank problem. Maybe your cyclopathic spouse is one of those who heads straight for the shower when he gets home, thus sparing you the brunt of his stinky clothing. If this is your hubby’s behaviour, then bravo! He’s either super-caring or you’ve trained him well. But if your cycling partner is anything like mine, his natural instinct will be to hang around you when he gets home, waiting for a chance to enthusiastically regurgitate his yawn-worthy ‘moments of glory’ out on the road.

Meanwhile, he’ll be completely oblivious to the fact that you are inadvertently ‘passive smoking’ the vapours arising from his filthy cycling clobber. By the time he’s finished bleating on, all those offensive, hazardous odours will have been insidiously distributed into the environment. Like an invisible, eerie fog, they will by now be shrouding you, clinging to your clothes, and lingering in the air in much the same way as the unpleasant pong of a soiled nappy. Even after you throw the nappy away, there’s just no getting rid of that hideous after-scent without some drastic action taking place that involves opening windows, vigorous towel-flapping, striking matches or spraying industrial-strength air freshener!

I’m sure Cycling Widows reading this will value their health and want to safeguard it, so you may want to take a moment to consider the risk! If you’re fairly new to the Cycling Widow role, it’s even more important that you take evasive action now, while your husband’s cycling mania is in its early stages.

Now, I’m guessing that, whilst the long-suffering Cycling Widows reading this will be nodding their heads at the memory of all the times they’ve been forced to inhale their partner’s unsavoury vapours, there will possibly be a few readers scoffing at my comments. Aren’t you being just a little alarmist here? To these would-be mockers – who, I’m guessing, are mostly cycling spouses (probably forced to read this book) – I would urge them to cast their minds back a few decades (if you’re old enough, that is). For it wasn’t really so long ago that asbestos was thought to be totally safe. Women in factories used to pick up the lovely fluffy stuff and make pretend beards with it. And now look at them! Years later, and the danger has been exposed.

If our beloved cycling spouses can’t be bothered to give us Cycling Widows a little consideration when they come home and keep their heinous bodily emanations away from us, then I can only pray that someone will eventually take up the gauntlet being thrown down and move to make it illegal to bandy said stench around indoors. After all, if passive smoking can be successfully recognised for the hazard it is (in the western world, at least), then why not cycling body odour fumes?

I know we have a long way to go on this, but I can’t help thinking that eventually, the stench-sharing activities of inconsiderate cyclomaniacs will be banned just like smoking in public indoor spaces. If not, let’s at least move to make it socially unacceptable. If a club stops off for drinks at a café and chooses to sit inside, where they’re likely to cause the most damage and olfactory offence, why not make your feelings known? You can give them a tut, a piteous shake of the head, a reprimanding frown, or perhaps you could even move away if they’re on the next table, maybe giving them a hard stare of the Clint Eastwood variety as you leave.

Sad as it sounds, I’ve got to thinking ahead when skanky situations crop up at home. In fact, it’s become a bit of a military-style operation. Steve might arrive home all relaxed and sporting a natural high after his ride, eager to regale me with his ‘tantalising’ adventures out on the road. But the minute I hear his cleats snap off outside the porch, I launch myself at the front door, ready to swiftly usher him towards the bathroom. After all, one has to be mindful that, once he steps over that threshold and lingers, it won’t be long before the house – and me – are choking on invisible clouds of his heady cycling musk. (In fact, the pong got so heady at one point that the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has now banned me from buying any more canaries. Unfortunately, they copped onto the fact that I was using them to test the fume levels in my house – and with a devoted cyclist at home, I was going through the poor birds at rather a rate of knots.)

Just as a scorpion is immune to its own bite, so too is a cyclist totally oblivious to his own caustic scent. So the sooner I get Steve safely locked within the confines of the bathroom, the better. There, he can divest himself of the main emitter of the stench by removing his stinky gear, chucking it into a bag, and jumping in the shower for a good scrub-down. Personally, I think a nuclear decontamination chamber – the sort you see in action-adventure movies – would be more appropriate, but what with the cost ‘n’ all…

If you can get your hubby to wash his own dirty cycling gear without too much resistance, then all well and good. After all, miracles do sometimes happen, don’t they? Steve occasionally pitches in, but most often, the household laundry duties falls to me (and, under normal circumstances, I don’t mind doing it, because he loves doing the washing-up I hate).

In any case, I mentioned just now that I get Steve to chuck all his cast-offs into a bag, and for these purposes, I get him to use a big black rubbish bag. Sounds a bit strange, you might think. Can’t he just throw his clothes into the laundry basket or into a small plastic bag like normal people? Well, at first glance, it does seem a little bizarre, or perhaps overkill, to use a large bag for the job. But we aren’t really talking about ‘normal’ people here, are we? We’re talking skanky cyclists. So I would urge new Cycling Widows to proceed with caution before going the usual route when it comes to dealing with their beloved’s cycling laundry. What follows is my reasoning behind this…

Now, the main aim with soiled cycling gear, in my view, is to stabilise the hazardous fumes as quickly as possible and to avoid contact as much as possible. Seems sensible, right? OK, then why would anyone even conceive of allowing their spouse to toss his outfit into a laundry hamper? Firstly, if you do this, the vapours will be able to make an easy escape out the sides of the basket; and secondly, when you go to wash it all, you’ll not only release the noxious gases to the world, but you’ll be forced to touch the contents.

Similarly, you might think that getting your beau to chuck his clobber into a normal plastic supermarket carrier would be a safe solution. But use anything smaller and less sturdy than a big black rubbish bag and you’re asking for trouble! What you’ll find is that a standard-sized plastic bag will only just accommodate the surprising amount of smelly gear he’ll manage to generate – and that includes the nice white towel set your mother bought you that he’ll contaminate along the way (by the time he’s finished with it, it will have turned a sickly mottled shade of grey). A normal bag will become so full that the clothes will be exposed at the top of the bag. In practical terms, a larger bag allows you to twist the top closed, thus preventing the fumes from escaping as the stinky shipment is transported from the bathroom to the laundry loading bay.

It was early on in my Cycling Widow ‘career’ that I discovered how easy it is to get complacent by the time you’ve reached the washing machine. After the contents were safely bagged away, I would catch a breath of fresh air, relieved that the main point of danger was over. How wrong I was!


Readers, have a heart and pass this blog link along to any poor Cycling Widows unfortunate enough to be married to one of these cyclopathic types. It’s Tour de France season now, and goodness knows, they’ll need a lifeline now more than ever!

By the way, there’ll be more Sneak Peeks to come this month, and here a few other goodies also available right now:

Cycling-Related Books by Alannah Foley

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See you again on Monday!

Alannah Foley



About Alannah Foley

Alannah Foley... aka 'The Pyjama Writer' Author of Light Mysteries, Short Fiction, Travel Tales, and more... To find out more go to
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