Since I’ve given up racing – although this may overstate the actual amount of laps I ever completed – a feeling of relief, tinged with the tiniest slither of envy, falls upon me whenever there is a big event weekend. But not today; a few of my outwardly sound but inwardly barking at the moon chums are preparing for the biggest 24 hour race of the year. With snorkels and fast boats if the weather forecast and – more importantly – the actual weather right now is to be believed.
Now you could argue that 20+ ten mile laps circuitously shared with a thousand other muddy riders while fighting fatigue, hunger and the sound of exploding bicycle components is an odd way to spend quality drinking time. And if you’re in the non racing, dry under roof corner I’m currently occupying you’d be right.
But these aforementioned thousand, soon to be unrecognisably broken, riders feverishly embrace the promised pain and suffering – lighting forums with the fiery ignition of their unhinged enthusiasm. And afterwards, threads spread like wildfire “you really had to be there“, “it was fun really even after my lights, bike and body failed at 3am in the morning” and “I can’t think of the best bit, except the end, that was a really good bit“. I have the greatest respect for the body tented and their ability to remain cheerful and positive way past the time the rest of us would have stropped out of the event demanding hot showers, cold beer and a red cross parcel.
So with the weather sages predicting horizon-to-horizon wet briefly punctuated with tempting bright spells and the real possibility of Navy divers being helicoptered in to rescue sinking competitors, it is going to be bloody horrible whatever people say afterwards. Yet in a ill judged moment of moist solidarity, I felt that my epic ten mile commute should identify with my braver cycling brethren.
Grumpy already with an early start, the tipping rain did nothing to improve my black mood. But with sufficient wet weather gear to waterproof a small elephant, there was no proper excuse not to just get on with it – other than “fuck it, I really can’t be arsed”
Trudging a mental path somewhere between the plight of the poor buggers in a sodden field and the spirit of Victorian exploring, I struck out anyway. My Conrad like “Bloody annoying – an univited Croc boarded my canoe and attempted to serve me up for lunch. I was forced to fetch the blighter a sharp clip across the snout until he desisted” stiff upper lip approach to the increasing wet lasted all the way to the end of the road.
At which point, God emptied his bath tub and I took the least soaking option of hiding under a tree as sizzling lighting BBQ’d lazy, unmoving clouds and smashing rain rebounded to eye level. I scuttled closer the the protection of my friendly tree and waited for the world to break.
It didn’t but my resolve did. I crabbed a fast sprint home, dumped the bike and made a guilty grab for the car keys. But sat here now, I’ll raise a beer to the proper racers defined by their mental strength, mud enemas and crazily unbalanced hardship focus.
Rather them than me 🙂