When Johnny met Bradley


“In the city there’s a thousand things I want to say to you
But whenever I approach you, you make me look a fool
I wanna say, I wanna tell you
About the young ideas
But you turn them into fear”
Paul Weller

The Christmas lights of Covent Garden were twinkling. Bright shop windows were adorned with colour, sharp art for stylish goods of all shapes ‘n’ shades. It is urgent that there are brands to be pushed, desired product to be flogged. Designer cool mingled with desirable tat. Shoppers bustled ‘n’ shoved, danced nimble side steps to avoid those absorbed on mobile phones.

Seven Dials is some weird epicentre to link up with a cyclist outta season. A small roundabout in the heart of the city, the hub is wrapped in scaffolding, maybe a festive tree, perhaps a challenging art installation. It was way too cold to bother checking it out. The lanes spun off like spokes. A hunched figure beetled across the junction. It was Guy Andrews, your editor, clutching what appeared to be two paving slabs, right size ‘n’ weight, like a magi bearing holy offerings. They were copies of Timm Kölln’s brand new monster book The Peloton. How out of place they looked, these savage stark portraits amongst the exfoliated beautiful people. One book was a gift, a sweetener from Rouleur, for Bradley Wiggins who I was due to meet shortly in some swanky nearby boutique hotel. Guy ‘n’ I ducked into the nearest boozer. Lo and behold! There was our man Wiggy. I had to double-take because he wasn’t on his bike – the same kinda idiot savant take that Montezuma’s Aztecs had on Cortez’s Spanish conquistadors on horse-back, thinking animal plus man-in-armour were one whole creature. Wiggo was dressed sharply, in smart threads. I watched the way he moved around the cramped crowded corner of that bar, his balance good for a surprisingly large bloke, neat ‘n’ precise footwork between the stools ‘n’ chairs, careful yet apparently careless, innate. I’ll bet he can dance real good (for a white man) when he’s had a few.

We sat and he talked, straight and to the point. No duckin’ or divin’; no flannellin’, no mod mumblin’.

Johnny Green talks to Bradley Wiggins about music, style and, occasionally, bike racing, in issue 22 of Rouleur magazine. On sale early February.

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18 Responses to “When Johnny met Bradley”

  1. Julian Dodd Says:

    Crikey, that was embarrassing writing: like something produced by a GCSE student rather too full of himself. ‘Wiggy’ or ‘Wiggo’?

  2. Stephen Hillier Says:

    I’ll second that. Just the sort of britpop reeking drivel that the self absorbed surround themselves with. No wonder not many people like the guy very much. Are we really expected to believe that seeing Wiggins in a bar would be as significant a sight as the spanish invaders of south america? And would it kill you to type ‘and’???

  3. Stephen Hillier Says:

    and and and, see it’s easy

  4. Nick S Says:

    Johnny, you’ve got to wean yourself off that terrible ‘n’ addiction. Only acceptable in ‘cash ‘n’ carry’ or maybe fish ‘n’ chips, otherwise winceworthy. And what have you got against the letter ‘g’? Duckin’ and divin’? Why?

  5. Jonny W Says:

    Agreeing with everyone above I’d also add that the same can be said for your articles in Rouleur, which are the only guaranteed let down. The style just gets in the way.

  6. Scott Says:

    I hate to be another ‘me too’ but reading this was like wading through mockney treacle. This entire article could be boiled down to:
    We went to meet Bradley Wiggins at Seven dials, we were a bit early so we went to the pub first and Brad was there doing the same thing.

  7. Gary P Says:

    Chaps, I disagree. Johnny’s writing style is just that, “style”. Having seen Johnny speak on the Road to Roubaix dvd I can tell he writes in the same way as he speaks. I understand not everyone may like his style, thats fair enough of course, but let the guy have some personality please. He has a rock ‘n roll (yes Nick S you missed that one) history, and that shines through in his writing. Personally when I get the magazine I always head for his article first. I am a music fan and a cycling fan and Johnny links the two in a way that only someone with his history could.
    Come on guys, lighten up, let someone have their flair and personality and, yes, style. You want flat factual reporting with the usual Q ‘n A’s (sorry couldn’t resist it) then buy a different mag.

  8. Nick S Says:

    You’re right Gary P, I did miss rock ‘n’ roll. Also Joshua Nkomo.

  9. Julian Dodd Says:

    Hi Gary,

    Well, there’s no accounting for taste, I suppose. I just find Johnny’s style pretentious, lazy and self-serving. The main point of his writing seems to be to convey how cool Johnny (thinks he) is, and his main device seems to be a reliance on corny rock-isms. Once you cut through all this, it becomes obvious that the article doesn’t actually impart anything of any interest. It’s just a gigantic pose.

    Bradley Wiggins is actually a very interesting character. I’ve just finished ‘On Tour’, which was a great read. It would have been nice had Johnny actually bothered to elicit, and then report, a conversation about cycling with the man.

  10. Gary P Says:

    Hi Julian

    Well taste is a very personal issue I suppose. Maybe try reading his book
    “Push Yourself Just A Little Bit More: Backstage at the Tour de France”. I found it a great laugh out loud read. Just don’t take him too seriously or you will miss the point.
    Thanks for the tip on Wiggins book, I will take a look.
    Here are some reviews on Johnnys book:
    ‘He infuses a manic, memorable log with the language and analogies acquired during his five years as road manager of the Clash… Cyclists are constantly compared with rock stars but Green’s mix has a compelling rhythm’ (TIMES )

    ‘Conveying the magnificent bonkerness of le Tour rather well… this book… is as immediate and immersive as the best sporting reportage.’ (OBSERVER )

    ‘Johnny Green injects some much needed rock ‘n’ roll into the sport with his account of the 2003 and 2004 Tours de Frances, capturing the essence of the race in this well-written book.’ (PRO CYCLING )

  11. Nick S Says:

    Believe me, I’ve tried to persevere with Jonny’s ‘style’. He’s lived a colourful life, he loves bike racing, he writes for Rouleur. So he’s starting with a big fund of goodwill from a reader like me. But I just can’t read stuff like “neat ‘n’ precise footwork between the stools ‘n’ chairs” without thinking that someone’s trying too hard, and that the mannerisms are getting in the way of the story. Sorry.

  12. Stephen Hillier Says:

    My favourite band is Guns ‘n’ Roses. I really do love them, but they have a sh*t name.

  13. keith spencer Says:

    A clone mag is not the mag your looking for. Substance full of it, Rouleur seem to give a really diverse read. I pick it up and honestly head towards Johnny piece, As I really enjoy the picture he puts in my head of what’s happening. Life maybe not rock and roll all the time. Neat ‘n’ precise footwork between the stools ‘n’ chairs if that’s what he seen I want to have that picture in my mind. Its fun and humour filled, God forbid we have someone try to release a persons character without the bike involved. I know Wiggins rides a bike but I have no idea what he is like as a person. Crack on Johnny I f*ck `n’ love it.

  14. Nick S Says:

    Thanks for that, Keith. I’ve often wondered what kind of reader likes Johnny’s stuff, and now I know.

  15. Captain Obvious Says:

    Bradley Wiggins’ character? Have you read his book? There’s a chapter of him flossing off about his guitars. A whole chapter!! ‘And then i did some training, and then i won… and then i did some training, and then i won. And then i got drunk and got a haircut. And then i did some training, and then i won. And then i did some training, and then i went to the tour de france, and then i didn’t win. And then i got drunk and got a haircut. My favourite guitar is a rickenbacker with a whammy bar. And then i did some training…’
    I’d love to read about the true character of an aloof mod-licker playing wonderwall on endless repeat while sitting on his Paul Weller bedspread, combing his earflaps. That would be entertaining, but the shameless over promotion of a very talented yet fairly one dimensional rider is all i ever get from Wiggy/Wiggo/Wigglet’s direction. Dave Zabriskie is more interesting for the love of f*cks sake.

    Rock ‘n’ Roll and lycra don’t mix (or massive sideburns), deal with it.

  16. Janie J Says:

    I’d be really embarrassed if my kids wrote this kind of stuff. It’s like a parody of really bad adolescent writing. The weird ‘right on’ style gets in the way of everything he is trying to communicate (never mind the bad spelling and punctuation). The piece is patronising both to the reader and Wiggo – its also pretty boring as it’s just about an old bloke’s afternoon in the pub. Come on Rouleur you can do better.

  17. Alex P Says:

    What Johnny has managed to do here is a make a relatively boring interview with a relatively boring man into an incredibly interesting and beautiful piece of writing. I’d much rather hear about how Bradley moves and his music links than some lifeless account of his cogs and spokes. I agree with Keith, Johnny manages to put incredible imagery in your head, it’s so much more personal. I think what a lot of you are missing is that unlike the majority of sports writing, Johnny’s work is fun and enjoyable to read! It’s a stylish breath of fresh air, which is exactly why such a cool magazine like Rouleur love to publish his stuff. So maybe you should all lighten up a bit, or if want to stick with your dull, hollow articles then shove off to a different magazine.

  18. Stephen H Says:

    Dull, Hollow articles? This IS dull and hollow. that’s the whole point. there is NO substance. If you think his style is beautiful, why don’t you shove off… back to school. His latest in Rouleur is basically an essay in support of dopers for ‘trying it on’. Ricco nearly kills himself and folds his team and this guy says ‘fair play’. If he’s trying to get a response by being ‘controversial’ then great, i can’t stand him, there’s my response. As for you Alex, if you like his style then check this out:

    Went for a ride this mornin’ n’ that. Nuthin’ big jus’ a lil’ spin’. flikd a fag at sum bird in a village cus thas wot elvis did n’ that. now i’m motorin’, swervin in n’ between the twigs n’ leaves. Then I clocked a crossin’ loliopo ladee. Shit i thort. this is wot jesus musta looked like an that’. then I took a piss agenst a tree. fackin’ fair play, cuz thatz tha water cycle ainnit!!!

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