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2012: A year that got on its bike

WHO would have thought it?

This time a year ago we knew what to expect of 2012, did we not? Barring a missile strike on east London, it would be the year of the Olympics when suddenly and without precedent the whole country would be transfixed by beach volleyball on Horse Guards Parade though for reasons we have been unable to ascertain the Queen, who is normally a fixture there, was not - unless she was heavily disguised as a lager lout – among the audience.

It was also meant to be the year in which all eyes were on Ohio, the state which is supposed to hold the fate of anyone who is eager to become CEO of USA Inc. It was, so the pundits insisted, an election that was too close to call and that extra time and even penalties might be required to separate Mitt Romney from Barack Obama. This, it transpired, was utter poppycock. Obama scored a thumping victory, not least because he promised Ohioans he would pump zillions of dollars into their ailing coal industry. Meanwhile, he told everyone else he is deeply worried about the effects of climate change.

Then there was the Jubilee. What a damp squib that turned out to be. Mere words cannot describe how much I was looking forward to this event, particularly the float-past on the Thames, the like of which has not been seen since Francis Drake took on the Spanish Armada. Alas, the weather was unkind. Indeed, not since Noah's day has so much rain fallen on so many, so many of whom tried so desperately hard to look as if they were enjoying themselves, even though they were drowning instead of waving. Normally, this is the kind of occasion at which the BBC shines. By common consent it did not. In hindsight, it turned out to be the beginning its annus horribilis.

What no- one predicted, not even Boris Johnson, the erudite oaf who is Mayor of London, was that this would be the year of the bicycle. It began with Bradley Wiggins whose name could have graced the pages of the Hotspur or the Dandy – if either still existed. Wiggins, or Wiggo as he is affectionately known, won the Tour de France, the first Brit ever to do so. Then he won gold at the aforementioned Olympics which made him a shoo-in for Sports Personality of the Year, at which he played guitar while a "singing" security guard gave his interpretation of the Jam's That's Entertainment. Spare yourself the pain of watching it on YouTube.

Previously, however, Wiggo had been knocked off his bike while on an evening training run. The driver of the white Vauxhall Astra Envoy was said to be upset, even more so when she realised she'd knocked down a national treasure who was in so much pain he was unable to inscribe his autograph. That someone as eminent – and as proficient – as Wiggo could be the victim of a road accicent served to highlight the dangers facing cyclists on Britain's highways. "We need to break down the 'two-tribe' mentality on the roads and co-exist in harmony," said the Automobile Association's president, who sounded as if he was gearing up for a shot at Thought For The Day.

Then there was Lance Armstrong, erstwhile hero of Alastair Campbell, who was as convinced of the serial doper's innocence as he insistently was of the presence of weapons of mass destruction. Say what you like about Campbell but at least he is consistent. As for Armstrong, he has been stripped of his Tour de France titles. You'd think, then, that the two former teammates who spilled the beans on him would be lauded for their courage. On the contrary, Pat McQuaid of the International Cycling Union, cycling's governing body, denounced them as "scumbags".

And so, finally, to Plebgate at the heart of which, of course, is a bicycle which, if it could speak, could clear up an awful lot of the confusion surrounding what actually was said between ex-Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell and the two cops manning the Downing Street gates. But it can't and so the story, like it, will run and run.

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