I’m compiling an extensive catalogue of songs themed entirely by what happens when rain, rain and more rain splats on saturated ground where buff six inch wide trails used to be. Sloshing through these mile wide muddy motorways, I find myself humming eighties classics including ‘Mud Is All Around‘ and ‘Don’t Talk to me about Mud‘ before occasionally backsliding into the previous decade, duetting ‘Endless Mud‘ with a virtual Lionel.
This can go on for some time. The mud certainly has – I feel like a mudaholic at a grubby public meeting ‘Hi, my name is Al and it’s been about 9 seconds since I last washed my bike/threw away some brake pads/replaced the entire transmission/ignored the sound of impending bearing collapse‘. For more than two months, every ride is preceded by sufficient waterproof apparel to clothe a small elephant, and suffixed by a sanitation regime resembling a particularly desperate field hospital in a long forgotten war.
The mucky sandwich bookended by this drudgery has long passed from challenging to enduring passing through wet, dark, cold and shitty. My entire riding life is one long dirty protest repeatedly passing through an outdoor spa specialising in a muck spraying treatment best thought of as ‘Back, Crack and Rucksack‘. Not even a new bike or brief shafts of sunlight could shift my SAD symptoms. Beer helps obviously, but mainly as it is inside, warm and doesn’t taste of damp earth shotgunned at 20mph into your face.
And this Sunday the Goshawk 50 comes around which the event website is struggling to sell “I think this is going to be one of the toughest Wentwood50’s to-date, both mentally and physically – especially if it stays wet. If you get your head in the right place, treat it as the training event it is meant to be, you’ll hopefully have a good day out. ” – wow sounds great, where do I sign up? Oh, I already have? Bugger.
Last year, this signposted the end of a 10 week – and I appreciate the use of a rather grandiose term – training plan at the end of which I’d shed nearly 10kg, ridden oh so many miles on mainly frozen trails, subsumed my beer and cheese habit and dropped a good trouser size. I was keen to see if it had all been worth the effort, and was happily rewarded with a pretty strong performance and a lower mid-pack finish. For me that represents podium form.
Roll the planet around and we find a similar shaped specimen of about the same weight, similar fitness, but not even registering on the same motivational scale. The question I’m asking myself – about 5 times a day – is can I really be arsed to drag my wet, claggy arse up and down 50 kilometres of muddy trails? There’s a few others having a go, so on the positive side the ‘misery loves company‘ defence could be wheeled out for turning up. The weather will be at least 10 degrees warmer than last years ice cold winds and occasional sleet. And I’ve already paid for a T-shirt. Er, that’s about it.
On the not so positive side, I really have nothing left to prove about why being fit is immeasurably better than being fat. While the course is a good one, it’ll be made up of more fireroad and – as I’ve already whinged about – quite a lot more mud. And it wasn’t exactly dry last year. There’s probably a similar day out somewhere else on dryer trails – not ridden first by the 200 fast boys and girls up the front.
Sure I am the first toespouse the incontestable hypothesis that riding is always better than not riding, and to lampoon those keyboard warriors who exchange winter hard work for internet hard-man withering. . I’ve even occasionally surprised myself with coping techniques for difficult challenges. And there’s always the pleasurable aftermath to sniff the waft of reflective whimsey.
Yeah, bit for all of that I am still back to the central moan that surely enough suffering has been visited on me in the 600 crappy kilometres I’ve ridden in the grip of the dirtstream since the year turned. It’s like room 101. That event is the rat in a cage. It’s an odd way to spend your days off sobbing ‘Don’t make me go back, anything but that, please no more mud’.
We’ll see. Riding tomorrow night. Still time to pull the emergency hamstring.