Living in a goldfish bowl for the next 10 days, Anthony Tan asks: 'What is the price of fame?’
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM


I'm still blown away by the absurdities [of fame], from the inside now. As much as I've tried to stay an outsider I do know that I'm a recognisable face... it doesn't change my perspective on things but it does change people's perspective of me.
Back in November last year, at the second NSW International Grand Prix
criterium in Cronulla, and with SBS cameraman in tow, I remember
approaching the women's winner, Sue Forsyth, for a post-race interview,
moments after she'd won.

"Oh my God!" she said to me.

Why did she say that?

I thought. Was she so astounded at what she'd just accomplished, which,
let's face it, was rather impressive for an underdog, breaking away
from a breakaway group to upstage her more fancied rivals?

"You're famous!" said Forsyth.

"No, I'm not!" I demurred. "Forget about me, you're the star today!"

A
couple of weeks later, doing my Christmas shopping at Coles (I
generally get a ham, cut it up into sixteenths and wrap 'em up, handing
them out as presents at our annual family barbeque), a stranger came up
to me and said: "Are you Anthony Tan?"

Why did he ask that? I thought. Did he mean Anthony Tan of Cycling Central infamy or Anthony Tan, formerly New South Wales' most wanted man, recently charged with murder?

Figuring it was the former, I replied: "No, I'm Mike Tomalaris."

But
despite Tomo and me looking uncannily similar ("brothers from a
different mother," Tomo keeps telling people), the stranger didn't seem
to buy it.

"I just wanted to say you were right about what you said about Mark Renshaw," he said, shaking my hand vigorously.

"Oh… thanks," I said, even though I'd forgotten what I'd said about Mark Renshaw.

We
chatted a little longer, but not wishing for my ham to go off and those
who ate it to catch Salmonella, I bid him adieu and walked off.

My
mum, who works as a hospital pharmacist, has told me about some of her
trips around the wards, where she's met those who have fallen off their
bikes, and asked them if they were serious cyclists.

Last week,
the latest cycling inpatient must've looked at her name tag, because
unprompted, he said to her, "Don't tell me – you're Anthony Tan's mum?!"

What sort of a monster has Tomo turned me into?
I thought to myself, as I was driving home that night after dinner with my folks. I want to live my life incognito!

Seriously,
I get a bit of kick when someone comes up to me and says how much they
like what I say (you never hear from your detractors, they reserve their
vitriol for the comments sections and forums); or how much they love my
Prussian Blue jacket; or how they just love everything about Cycling
Central
, which makes me all warm and fuzzy on the inside; or remark just
how damn good-looking I am.

Okay, I made that last bit up.

But,
as I call the Adelaide Hilton home for the next 10 days, and watch the
highfalutin hotel turn into a veritable goldfish bowl as fans ogle their
larger-than-life stars and incessantly ask for autographs, I think to
myself, Geez, imagine copping this all the time… Would you still enjoy it?

Imagine
being Ricky Gervais. Or Brad Pitt. Or Kate and William. Or Lance
Armstrong. Or Cadel Evans. Or Stuart O'Grady. Or Julia Gillard. Or
Barack Obama. Or any really big personality.

To be under the public spotlight. To be under constant scrutiny. Would I really want to be one of them?

Not I.

Despite my stints on Cycling Central,
despite having my face plastered across a number of websites and print
publications, I am an intensely private person, as I'm sure many other
people who have a public profile of some sort are.

Yet sometimes,
I feel like I know some of you better than some of my friends, because I
reveal a part of myself I haven't even told them. I've had no need to.

For
me, writing has become a form of ongoing catharsis (plus it's cheaper
than seeing a shrink). So, during the cycling season, I'm happy to share
some of my up and down thoughts and moments with you, because we share a
common passion, or at least a mutual interest, even if we may disagree
on things.

However, you shouldn't let your perception or
treatment of me or anyone else change simply because we're public
figures. There's nothing special or otherworldly or immortal about any
of us. (Except for Stuey, perhaps, who seems to have nine lives, he's
broken that many bones. Made of rubber, he is.)

The reality is
most of us love talking crap. And there's nothing better all of us like
than for you to treat us as if we were one of your mates, sitting over a
campfire or a barbie, knocking back a beer or two, talking about
whatever's on your mind.

So, if you're here for the Tour Down Under, don't be afraid; come 'round and say hi. I don't bite – unless you ask for it!

Twitter: @anthony_tan