Newcastle cyclist pedals through the pain to Tour de France ambition
PUBLISHED: 08:33 11 October 2010 | UPDATED: 17:57 20 February 2013
Three weeks of pain and suffering is the strange ambition that spurs on a qualified surveyor turned professional sportsman, as Roger Tames explains
Horrendous is the word James Moss keeps on coming back to when he talks of one of the greatest challenges in international sport. Yet he always says it with such
enormous enthusiasm and with a smile of genuine relish.
The 25-year-old from Newcastle is one of the handful of British sportsmen who earns his living as a professional cyclist, though the average Premier League footballer would probably refuse to regard a rookie cyclists remuneration as a living wage.
And, of course, the object of James competitive love-hate relationship is that 2,000-mile torture of man and machine, the Tour de France.
To ride in the Tour is every cyclists dream, says the former Northumbria University student. It would be
fantastic but its brutal. Its strange to want to aspire to such a painful experience, which can literally take years off your life.
Cycling has got to be the hardest sport in the world. Its often about who can hurt themselves the most - how much you want it.
When it really is hurting, it can be awful. But theres nothing better if you get something out of all the effort at the end of a race. It doesnt even have to be winning; it can be helping a team-mate to win.
Life on the bike may seem a solitary sport but cycling carries a strong team ethic where riders have the specific job of helping a teams top man to win. James natural strength is as a climber, but in his first year as a professional on the Endura Racing Team, hes one of the teams domestiques, learning his trade while playing a disciplined part in the teams tactics.
Twelve months ago he was immersed in a different professional experience, finally completing his qualifications as a surveyor. Then came the chance to live his dream.
I was offered a cycling contract in the same week as I finished all my surveying exams, explains James, who was born and bred in Burnley but has made Newcastle his home since his university days. I took the contract then found out Id qualified afterwards.
Id have been better off as a surveyor, but I just love being a full-time cyclist. Id do it even without being offered a wage.
Most people are quite taken aback when I tell them Im a professional cyclist. They dont even realise the job exists. Twelve months ago, even I would have thought it bizarre to be a full-time cyclist, but now I think its feasible to have a long-term career.
To pedal along the professional path that leads to the Tour de France, James needs to make an impression in the Endura Team shop window.
Hell have spent September riding in the Tour of Britain for the first time, as well as competing in increasing events in Europe where hell find himself wheel to wheel with some of the worlds top road racers. Hes already raced alongside the legendary Lance Armstrong.
James is more than happy to make Tyneside his base while he looks to capitalise on the major boom in the public following for his sport.
British success at the Olympics has obviously driven interest in cycling but now Team Sky is also playing a big part.
And Newcastle is a great place to be. Within ten minutes Im in countryside which is ideal for training. Then I can head up into Northumberland towards Rothbury where there are some nasty hills. Back to the pain again. But James, for all his boyish enthusiasm, is confident about coping with his sports dark side: I can hurt myself more than
I thought. I believe I can go through that threshold.
Horrendous, I say!