Wednesday, 17 July 2013

'Eau de Wiggo': 4160 Tuesdays Time To Draw The Raffle Numbers, And Bandage Girl Clare's Gallant Ride

Perfume and its copiously stamped and cheerfully spotted box
My friend Clare - owner of the perfumista pooch Meg, who narrowly missed becoming a calendar bitch - is mad on cycling.  No, really, she is completely obsessed with it, going out at every available opportunity to cover 20 miles here and 35 miles there.  She has taken to loitering in Lidl to take advantage of their occasional random deliveries of budget cycling kit, of which she assures me one can never have enough. Given that Clare is a loyal Waitrose shopper - and wouldn't normally be seen dead in a retail outlet that sets the merchandising bar so low as to sell stuff out of its cardboard outers turned sideways, if at all - that gives you as good an indication as any that the woman is bonkers about biking.  In addition to this, Clare is a massive fan of Sir Bradley Wiggins, to the point where she started to refer to herself - with a worrying absence of irony - as 'The Other Bradley'.  In a further worrying development, she then progressed to referring to Bradley Wiggins himself as 'The Other Bradley'.  And I guess that given his recent health issues, prompting him to withdraw from this year's Tour de France, somebody had to step up and be him on a bike for a bit...  I did manage to dissuade her from wearing stick-on sideburns, though these were mooted at one point.

Then at the start of the year, Clare announced her intention to compete in the London to Brighton cycling race, a 50 mile circuit from Clapham Common to the Sussex coast.  A little while later, I met Sarah McCartney on a 'perfumery crawl' in London, and discovered her quirky and eclectic range of scents: 4160 Tuesdays.  My attention was caught by one fragrance, Time to Draw the Raffle Numbers, which was directly inspired by Clare's hero - specifically the moment when Bradley Wiggins was on the podium after winning the Tour de France in 2012.  Sarah McCartney explains the background to the creation of this scent in a blog post, including the peculiarly British resonance of the phrase 'time to draw the raffle' after which she named the perfume:

Bradley's podium moment - source:

'When Sir Bradley Wiggins got up on the podium at the end of the Champs Elysées, with Chris Froome and that bloke who came third, a load of dignitaries, the sprinter Maurice Green and two skinny birds in yellow frocks carrying daffodils and stuffed toys, he addressed the gathered millions, and suggested that it looked like time the draw the raffle numbers.

He did it for the British cycling fans who’d travelled to Paris specially to see him there, the winner of the Tour de France, in his yellow jersey. He wanted to say something that would be meaningless to the rest of the world, because only the British know that when it’s all over, just before we all go home, that’s when we do the raffle. It was outrageous, original and funny. And I wanted to put it in a perfume.

This is a perfume of parts. I wanted the scent of a crowd on a hot day; coffee, tobacco, hot tarmac and linden trees of the Champs Elysées; oiled bicycles; marmalade on toast. I’m not sure if Sir Wiggo had marmalade on toast for breakfast but I’d like to think it was his petit dejeuner of choice the day after.'

I didn't sample Time to Draw the Raffle Numbers the day I met Sarah on our sniffing expedition, but I thought that as a card carrying Bradley fan, Clare simply had to try it.  Try it and very likely wear it on her ride to Brighton.  So I dropped Sarah a line, explaining about my friend's Wiggo fixation and upcoming cycling challenge, and she was kind enough to send a little roll-on of the scent for her and one for me.  Clare was very excited at the prospect of wearing a Bradley-inspired perfume on the big day, and carried on training in earnest.

Nice toenails!

Then, with just three days to go before the event, Clare fell while cycling at 17mph and badly hurt her leg, as well as all but writing off her bike.  Having seen photos of how much her leg swelled, I thought her hopes of riding so soon after her accident must have been scuppered, not least because of the mangled bike.  But a local cycle shop spent seven hours the following day wrenching it back into shape, and by the following Sunday, Clare was - if not good to go exactly, for her leg was still heavily swaddled - thoroughly determined to do the ride.

The day was not without incident, however, for Clare fell from her bike again before even leaving London, but was happily unhurt - or no more hurt that she was already, say. As she reports in a Facebook update after the event:

'It confused the hell out of a first aider when I fell off at a set of lights in London. He couldn't work out how someone had already patched me up, in between my collapsing in a heap and his battling through the crowds of cyclists to pick me up.'

But that fall did not deter her, and I am happy and amazed in equal measure to report that Clare did indeed complete the course, helped by the whiffs of Eau de Wiggo which she caught periodically rising up from whatever you call the equivalent of décolletage on a woman attired in top to toe Lycra.

'I could detect the special Wiggins perfume at every pedal.  Even above the all pervasive aroma of Deep Heat. I explained to my husband that it would spur me on and that I would be like the pre-knighthood Bradley, not this year's quitting Bradley. I would be that gritty Bradley. "You want to be Fat Gritty Bradley?" he queried, mishearing slightly. He has been calling me that ever since.'

And how does it smell, you may be wondering?  Well, like sweet orange-flavoured Shimano gears would be my best attempt at describing it, ie hot oily metal - and there is also a muzzy earthy feel to the scent that might be the tobacco.  Comforting for sure.

Of course I had to write to Sarah again after the race, telling her the good news that my friend had made it to the finishing line despite her set backs, and quoting her take on Eau de Wiggo.

'I did wear the perfume and I could smell it while I rode. Loved it and am sure it helped.'

To which came Sarah's delightfully pithy response:

'It must have worked then.'


Tara said...

Wow, what a trooper Clare is! I can't believe she did such a grueling race after not one, but two falls. She has the Wiggo spirit all right (pre-knighthood obviously). It says a lot for the perfume that she noticed it and enjoyed it with so much else going on.

That raffle quip was such completely English moment, I'm glad Sarah made a perfume to commemorate it.

Vanessa said...

Hi tara,

She's very dogged, is Clare - clearly shaping up to be 'The Primary Bradley' at the very least... ;-)

I am glad that she could get a whiff of the perfume as she rode, and that it helped her morale. She also had a saddlebag full of banana muffins as back up!

Olfactoria's Travels said...

Sadly this shows that my coming over to the British side is not easy, this post went totally over my head...
But what a fighter Clare is! Great for her!

Vanessa said...

Hi Olfactoria,

Not to worry! If I knew of a cult Austrian cyclist with whom to compare Bradley Wiggins, I'd come right out and say, but my frame of sporting reference in your part of the world is woefully limited, sadly.

But the 'Clare as trooper' bit transcends national boundaries for sure!

Undina said...

What Birgit said ^^ ;)

But also... I had no idea you used to write for Ca Fleur Bon!

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

Haha! I am hoping this piece will appeal to British readers...

I did write six big posts for CFB - I wouldn't mind republishing a couple of them here one day, which the CFB admin indicated I could at the time. And the last one was over two years ago, so you never know.

Vanessa said...

I guess the main key to understanding this post is just that Bradley Wiggins is a cyclist and British sporting hero. Oh, and Lidl is a budget grocery chain, that sells random other items from time to time. ;-)

Anonymous said...

What an awesome tale! And thanks for letting us non-Brits in on the idiom of the raffle drawing. Now that I'm "in" on it, I think that's a brilliant name for a perfume.

Vanessa said...

Hi Natalie,

Thanks for hanging in there, reading a very British shaggy dog story of sporting endeavour with a perfume theme! Am happy to have expanded your cultural horizons - maybe you'll have occasion to deploy the phrase during your visit to Europe. ;-)

Suzanne said...

Hi Vanessa,

Similar to Birgit, some of these references went over my head, but I still quite enjoyed this rousing tribute to your friend Clare's achievement! And how fantastic of the perfumer to send her a perfume so apropos of the occasion (and so waftingly good that your friend could smell it with every pedal). Great story!

Vanessa said...

Hi Suzanne,

Well, thanks for persevering, and I am glad you could appreciate the story on some level! This post may have had a few British readers along the way, but Tara - to whom the references were more familiar - may be the only one to comment. ;-)

Clare is still training for future races, and as far as I know Eau de Wiggo will continue to be her 'Scent of The Ride'!

Anonymous said...

Hi V,

I was away when this was posted but it struck a chord.

My brothers and their male friends used to set out to cycle from London to Brighton when in their late teens, and invariably someone always broke their arm or ankle by falling off en route, obliging the others to stop and assist. They never, ever made it to their destination, I'm pretty sure, so I congratulate Clare for getting there despite the falls and injuries.

A gal with that attitude should win the Lottery never mind the raffle! Just think of all the cycling kit she could get with a EuroMillions win under her belt;-)

cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

Vanessa said...

Hi Anna,

Nice to hear from you and to learn of your brothers' cycling exploits. Sounds like Clare was pretty plucky to persist with the race despite her multiple mishaps.

And yes, how great it would be to win the Euromillions lottery! I can just imagine Clare blowing her wad on cycling kit in fact. ;-)