The Real Chain Gang

Here’s a light-hearted story to finish up with, a real-life Chain Gang.

194 French prisoners will shortly set off on a special version of the Tour de France. They’ll be accompanied by 124 gaurds and fitness instructors. An article on the BBC website makes it clear that there will be no breakaways (!) and the prisoners will cycle as a group with no points for climbing or sprinting and no time-keeping.

That might not sound like much of a race, but it is more than 300 people cycling 1,500 miles round France and ending up in Paris. If you visit the article on the BBC website you can see the prisoners training and listen to interviews with the prisoners. The aim is that by introducing the prisoners to the idea of such hard training, and achieving such an impressive goal, they will realise that life offers different choices.

When I first set up The Chain Gang, a friend of mine Connor Brennan came up with the name. Sadly Connor is dead now, but he used to enjoy trying to twist my arm for a shareholding as his reward for naming my business. I tried to explain that an equity stake might involve him putting his hand in his pocket rather than me, but his optimism did him credit!

The Chain Gang moniker has always been a double-edged sword. In cycling terms it tends to mean fast groups of cyclists in racing clubs, which isn’t what we do. In some parts of the world it means work-gangs of prisoners tethered by chains. Which, naturally, is also not what we do.

I am a bit tickled, though, that finally someone has brought these two concepts together. What’s The Chain Gang? Well this summer it is a group of prisoners cycling round France. Which again isn’t quite what we do, but it’s getting closer! Not quite as much fun as our Chain Gang

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