Monday, 20 May 2013

(HTF) up and down

Before i start this i want to draw attention to the fact that i am now in the  business of selling Hosiery for charity. The slogan may be one you have heard before. If you'd like a pair and you'd like to support the Pascua Yaqui cycling project (to which all proceeds go) drop $15 in the donation link on the right and message me your size preference. And now onto our feature for this evening. 


Literally and metaphorically bike racing really does have its ups and downs. One minute you're in a mountain meadow and the chain barely touches the cogs as it clicks into a smaller cog and the combination of hypoxia, solitude and scenery sends you into a meditative trance where nothing else seems to matter. The next day you're sitting in your car trying to put on legwarmers without exposing any flesh to the pounding rain outside and wondering if being the tallest bloke in the bunch makes you likely to bear the brunt of the fantastic electric storm which is taking place directly above the first KOM. 

This weekend has been illustrative of both. On Sunday some administrative nonesense involving UCI points, parochial race organizers and prize money minimums meant i couldn't race despite the protests of the organizer AND the other teams. I tried to train, but it wasn't happening after 90 mins i turned back to my car and angrily threw my bike in the back. I din't bother stopping my GPS or wiping my chain or putting my license away or emptying out my jersey pockets. I threw everything into a bag and drove home. I threw my wet bike into the corner and opened a beer. Sometimes it all seems futile. 

The next day i drank three cups of coffee to get myself out of the door. I languished the first 10km at tourist pace. I began aimlessly poking up the first climb near my house without much intention. A croissant at the top , maybe a chocolate one, I didn't feel much like caring about race weight. I saw a rider up ahead and pressed on the pedals a bit. I didn't feel like racing but i didn't feel like looking like a poser either. As i passed he hopped on my wheel, i picked it up a bit, 300w he laughed. 400w he panted. 400w and i panted. 420 and he went off the back. i backed off, and he came back to my wheel, with a faint hum. Yup the little wanker was motorized. His motor must've been spot on 400w because time and again i would gap him and he'd get back on. At the top of the climb it made an almighty racket, he came around me and, just as he went to celebrate i kicked past him. Stopping to pull on a jacket i gave him some choice words to block out the motor noise. 

What moped man didn't realize is that he turned my whole day, even my whole week around. once the endorphins from the effort hit my bloodstream i was flying down the other side of the collserolla. I know what i need to do when i get like this. I need to stop training and just ride my bike. I dodged the showers and always took the smaller road where i had a choice. I rode and rode, past castles and churches until i found myself in a tiny village in the mountains between here and Girona. 31/2 deep, 110km from home and running extremely low on jaffa cakes. 

 I decided to engage in one of my favourite pastimes, i walked into the smokiest bar in the village square and loudly asked how one might return to Barcelona. I know they SAY the Spanish civil war occured due to irreconcilable political divisions and a flawed republican constitution but I think it MAY have been related in some way to someone asking for directions. Soon enough a gentleman with a walking stick was using its built in compass (it also had a whistle and torch [or flashlight if you're that way inclined]) to suggest i should go one way* meanwhile another was suggesting that the short distance of the proposed route was more than offset by the curvaceous nature of  his alternative. The bartender had a smartphone, the bar conisdered it's output to be far from smart. As normally happens in these situations i polished off and payed for a cafe amb llet and lef tthem debating the issue. Following my nose (i never like to plan my rides) and heading towards the sea. 

An hour and a half later i found myself behind a moped, the young lady on the back looking bemused and delighted while her boyfriend checked in his mirror to confirm that yes, the beardy manlet was still there despite the fact that his two stroke was whining like a banshee. After they turned off i found myself on roads i knew and made it to the hill below my house just in time for a hail storm of biblical scale. 

Racing, and training have given me the highest highs and the lowest lows of my life. I've broken myself more times than i care to remember and in the process i have made myself stronger. I seriously thought that on Saturday night i'd write something here about how i couldn't be bothered to turn up at races, watch guys who i know charge up ride away from me and beat myself to a pulp for 15th place any more and how i wasn't going to do it any more. instead i am writing about how i had a great weekend beating myself to a pulp in the rain and how i can't wait to do it again! 
playing outside in the rain


*on a side note, i am all for empowering people and overcoming adversity but just how extreme can one's ativities be with a walking cane that one requires light, navigation AND the ability to phonically alert others to one's presence? 

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