The weekend just gone by is a perfect illustration of all that makes our wonderful sport of cycling so maddening but also so brilliant.
I knew heading into it that my fitness had taken a knock after basically two weeks off, not counting the LifeCycle sessions in my hotel gym (and they’re as close to real cycling as hooning about in a Jacuzzi is to swimming the Channel). I was also in a foul mood for reasons other than cycling, and not worth going into here.
So a nice 2+ hours in the company of three Bayeux team-mates and on a morning when the sun was at least trying to shine should have been an ideal tonic. But once the ride started I not only felt like my legs had been refashioned in Play-Doh, I also managed to get yet another bloody puncture, thanks to a tiny shard of metal I somehow managed to pick out in the road. I promptly compounded this setback with a truly inept display of public tube-changing, further cementing my hard-won reputation as the team’s resident clown.
In fact after all my recent pratfalls – serial punctures, navigation blunders and the now legendary Ice Spill – I might as well start turning up for rides in an orange wig, stripy trousers and on a bike that promptly falls apart in a puff of smoke.
But back to the story at hand, and it was no exaggeration to say that I met the latest disaster with a complete and profound sense of humour failure. In fact it was only the urgings of others that prevented me from immediately turning tail and heading home…
As it happened I might as well have done, for all the power I was able to muster in my morale-sapped state.
So Saturday was – in a word – shit. I bloody hated it, I had a splitting headache when I got back and I was just about ready to pack in and sell the bloody bikes by the time I’d stewed for the rest of the day.
Sunday dawned to leaden skies for what should have been the regular team ride to Alfriston. It quickly became apparent that the forecasters’ predictions of heavy rain had deterred all but doughty northerner Rich Mitchelson and myself, leaving us distinctly short of bodies.
We forged ahead anyway. And, wouldn’t you know, not only did I manage to complete 42 soggy miles without mishap I bloody well enjoyed myself too, even when it was pissing down so hard the rain was literally running off my nose.
Better still, after I’d worked off the initial stiffness of the previous day’s efforts my legs felt almost as strong as they had before my Middle Eastern jaunt. Almost.
It was a great morning out that left me soaked and muddy but firing on all cylinders again. Even the non-bike worries subsequently rectified themselves, soothing my mood considerably.
So now the Longcross Test Track beckons. 9.30am on Saturday is zero hour. The moment of truth and all that other guff. I’m getting nervous. I’m also struggling to eliminate dreams of an unlikely (not to say miraculous) victory. Most of all I just want to take that big step towards all this nonsense becoming business as usual rather than such a Big Deal for me.