I had a couple of surprises this weekend, neither of them offering the same kind of happy discovery that – say – finding Girls Aloud sprawled naked in a vat of custard demanding immediate sexual satisfaction.*
The first was that a windy and mildly damp road ride was not delivering on the expected purgatory. The second was the miserable reminder that HONC is indeed this weekend, and a moment of optimistic insanity had seen me enter the full and awful 100k.
Last year, I was able to pull out with a knee that was put out**, and while outwardly miserable that my chance to show outstanding sporting performance had been cruelly stolen by a proper athletic injury, inside I was more than a bit secretly glad.
I had much time to ruminate on the unfairness of my world as two friends, both with a pervy roadie bent, effortlessly accelerated up a Cat 1 climb. I didn’t so much accelerate as wheeze and sweat myself up this never ending ascent through the power of bloody mindedness and a compact chainset.
The outputs from this displacement activity was twofold; 1- this was the first road ride I’d done in a group of more than one, and it was just about satisfactory methadone for an MTB Dopamine junkie when the trails are horrible. 2- If I could put myself through five and a half hours of pain and suffering last weekend, how much worse could HONC be?
But I don’t ride bikes for a feeling of worthiness. That stuff kind of happens sometimes, but I don’t actively seek it out. It’s like piling into a punch up if someone sets on your mates, but not banging down a pub door, brandishing a broken glass and shouting “Oi, you’re all a bunch of raving losers, come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough”
I don’t like races much, and much as I love riding with my mates – so fully accept riding is as much a social thing as a sport thing – but that doesn’t extend to a thousand people, most of whom with Internet personas you’d want to punch repeatedly. I get bored of riding after a few hours, and mountain bikes on the road are so dull – taking the previous analogy – I’d probably just glass myself to make it stop.
And what little off road there is will be spectaculaly muddy. This part of the Cotswolds needs a long period of dry and sunnny weather before it becomes even slightly rideable***, and with so many riders, any good stuff will be clogged up with mucky grimness and bike handling incompetance.
I had a plan to slip about in the FoD again last night in preparation for Sunday. However, on reflection, I’ve decided to merely upend myself in the compost bin for six hours and see how that feels.
Honestly even the road bike seems like a more sensible option, and that kind of talk suggests madness is near. But this morning, into a rising sun, it felt like the first proper ride of Spring. Well it did once I could again feel my fingers and toes, because Early Spring temperatures are not that far from late Winter at 6:30am.
So shall I be wrapping myself in body hugging lycra and clearing my riding diary of dirt, humour and fun for the next six months? No, of course not, but road riding may not quite be the Devil’s own personal brand Tarmac Trail as I’d once suspected. Worrying times indeed.
And will I be whinging and whinning myself round a 100k of mud, boredom and two wheeled cockage come Sunday? Sadly, I believe the answer may be a yes. Unless I can tweak a hamstring on the way home. I’m never that lucky 🙁
* That’s the band members looking for satisfaction, not the custard. Just so we’re clear.
** Excuse 237. Full details available in Volumes 1-7 of Al’s great excuses for being rubbish. Also avalable as 4 DVDs or a bound set including an extra strong shelf.
*** Three proper summers would do it.