I know it’s hard to countenance and I find it somewhat strange that I am typing these words, but there are times when life takes precedence over cycling. As much as I’ve held true to certain maxims, “life is a metaphor for cycling’ being one that springs to mind, the past ten days have been shaped by other things. i have had 8 days off the bike and instead spent 8 days basking in the mutual happiness of being newly married. it’s not something i necessarily imagined possible, but the past two and half years have continually confounded my expectations of life, of what constitutes happiness, and how things need not be unbearably complex if you just let them unfold. there’s a depth of feeling here that i won’t impress upon this page – those of you coming for details of the latest in regional time trials may start running for the comfort of the turbo trainer.
i’d be lying if i didn’t say that during those 8 days the bike was entirely banished from my mind, i had occasional moments where i wondered what a combination of omelette, estrella damm, chocolate crackers (?), croissants and other such delicacies might do to my form. In truth, that was about the extent of my diet in Barcelona because conjoining the words ‘spain’ and ‘vegetarian diet’ is bit like trying to put the wrong poles of two magnets together.
incidentally, the spanish word for greyhound stadium is ‘canodromo’. not unlike ‘velodromo’, but with dogs. i like it. it’s a good job my favourite two foodstuffs are potatoes and eggs because we stumbled across a culture that valorises the eggy potato alongside the virgin mary, violent bulldeath and weird catholic parades featuring the KKK.
suffice to say, a short break mid-season never did anyone any harm, apart from maybe fabian cancellera at last week’s tour of flanders.
at some point prior to the intervention of things wondrous relating to the circle of life, i thought it might be a great idea to get a race entry for my return to keep things going. when i looked in the calendar the only one that came up as a possible was the Wychwood Classic, a 36 mile hilly time trial. like i said, i thought it might be a great idea. the reality was ever so slightly different to the one contained within my flawed imagination.
In a nutshell, the race was 8 miles too long. this was the point at which my legs collapsed in on themselves and the pain became almost unbearable at the slightest incline. up until that point i was steaming along. i ignored Belle’s sage advice: “Don’t go off too hard in the first ten miles and you’ll be fine’. i went off way too hard in the first ten miles, so much so that the second time (it was two laps) up the main climb i was about 50 seconds slower. Clearly, the wind has picked up, my brake blocks were rubbing and the surface had been degraded by the legions of timetriallists riding ahead of me on the road. These were my goals, in descending order:
1. Go for the course record – 1.28 or thereabouts – and thus get the win
2. Go for the win – a 1.30 should be sufficient, or a 24mph ride
3. Go for second or third, get a podium place somehow
4. In case all else fails, treat it as a training ride.
I was on course for the first lap, but then recalibrated when my fickle legs deserted me. I fear that in the last stretch i was losing time like a noro-virus sufferer loses vomit. I took on an energy gel about ten miles from the end in the hope that it might help. In truth, if you’re reaching for your second energy gel it’s out of desperation and is not going to help all that much. At this point in the race i was reminded, perversely, of a song by a weird 1980s anarcho-punk combo called ‘Conflict’, featuring the romantic lyric ‘when you hear the 4 minute warning it’s too fucking late”. Suffice to say, it was too late and a nasty time-trial nuclear winter ensued. It was all i could do to hang on for a 1.30.34. I scraped second place behind an imperious Steve Golla who was about 2 minutes up. Rob Yeatman was about a minute back for 3rd. I’m pleased in hindsight that i managed to take second place and also to do what i set out to do, namely a 24mph ride. Hats off to Steve for pulling out all the stops, and to Rob for a really terrific ride.
Since the race i’ve been variously walking like an old man and cramping up savagely without warning. I am having most trouble walking downstairs on account of my very sore quads which are complaining the loudest. I also feel a bit nauseous because i forgot i was chowing down caffeine energy gels and then had a coffee back at the HQ and started gibbering in a slightly scary fashion to anyone within range.
Next up: the club time trial season has started; i’m riding the r25 next Sunday and looming on the horizon is the terrifying prospect of a massed start road race: up the league!