I have never understood why one week you’re an athletic titan bending the landscape to your will, the next you’re a fat, old knacker wondering if this is how the end starts.
There is some logic to this I suppose; plausible deniability of the previous evenings’ alcohol content withers in the hard face of the first climb. A frenzied one man attack on anything bottling a fermented grape is merely an aperitif for hindsight.
The signs were all around me; lethargy when faced with the “stick game” which makes a mad Labrador even happier. One day I hope he’ll somehow communicate that stereotyping his long “Retriever” bloodline is unfair, and repeated fetching that bit of gnawed wood is so yesterday, Darling. Today was not that day.
Then I put my shorts on the wrong way round. Twice. Picked up the wrong gloves, lost the trailer key, faffed about looking for related stuff and found only excuses. Jezz seemed in similar mood hence a pre-ride cuppa and a chat before riding bicycles became a necessity.
Sometimes it’s just the first climb that hurts. Someday’s you’re a corpse uphill but demonic coming down. Mostly experience suggests you’ll work you way into a ride, and the finish will be far stronger that the start. Today wasn’t one of those days either.
The sun was out warming our clumsy limbs, the trails were grippy after another night of summer rain, we were still early enough to avoid most of the rambling hoards and the bikes were working well. Only thing missing was any semblance of technique, any sign of motivation, any power in the legs and any breath in the lungs.
All stolen away by the God of Superficial Fitness clearly having fallen out with Bacchus. “Make them suffer, make them suffer some more, do they look like they are enjoying it yet? Yes? Fire up the gradient machine and ratchet up that next climb”.
It was still good of course. Not as good as the last few rides, but better than many grim death-marches undertaken in the winter. Vegetation has exploded past head height throwing out obstacles that scratch, ping and bite. But the views are fantastic, the being out there so much preferred to being inside, the 650+ metres of climbing triggers a guilt free dead animal breakfast and rests a troubled mind that would otherwise be tortured by missing a ride.
Even when you’re not that keen to go. Said it before – riding is always better than not riding. Next week will be splendid I’m sure. In the meantime, I’ll wield my mighty paintbrush while musing on exactly who nicked my fitness and motivation this morning. Yes, I’m looking at you Mr Merlot.
* Happy gardeners appear to cherish the careful placement and nurture of pretty flowers. The rest of us are left with digging large holes and creosoting anything that doesn’t move. Or move that fast. I’m of the firm opinion that our now wood-stained chicken is not only happy at being fully waterproof, but also “dark oak” is this years’ Hen colour.