Did the Whinlatter Challenge on Sunday as an exercise in casual indifference. It started with the clothing - camo Windstopper, baggy, three-quarters, carried on with the baggage, a Haglöfs daypack with a three-litre bladder and was preceded by equally casual preparation. Think a day of slaving over a fresh web-site after a three-hour mountain bike ride - no taper - followed by too much beer and about fours hours sleep before crawling out of bed, into a van and up the M6. The bike, erm, Rocky, my trusty Setavento hardtail with Pikes and grippy tyres. Casual, see...
So it was that I stood on the startline, pre-dehydrated, badly fuelled and utterly lacking in any motivation whatsoever. The plan, in so far as there was one, was to ride round gently, take in the views, have a friendly chat or two along the way and then eat cake and drink tea afterwards.
So much for plans. Id forgotten about pre-race adrenalin, people's tight, twitchy, humourless racefaces and the pointy elbow brigade with their points to enforce. No place for a dozy, unmotivated, slow coach like me.
Anyway... I survived the terrible music and trundled gently up the first long fire road climb and up to the first bottleneck which is the province of the casually indifferent who can't be arsed to push to the front. Walked up most of the first congested singletrack climb then pottered gently onwards watching fast people scream past on the other side of the tape.
The views were quite stunning, really lovely. Trundled down some singletrack. Marvelled that some people are even less technically adept than me. Climbed some more fireroad. And repeat. Mostly it seemed to be uphill and gradually my legs sort of woke up and we even overtook a couple of people on one of the easier climbs.
Then suddenly it was all over. My legs hurt, mostly I think because I managed to drink just one liter of flluid in three and a bit hours, which will be why I finished with burning legs and a stinking headache and proves that not only do I ride like a muppet, but I'm stupid too.
On the plus side the cake was nice, I won't be quite so pointlessly casual at an event again this year and I met some nice people along the way.
Overall, a bit of a wake-up call. If you treat stuff with disrespect, it bites yer arse. Next time it'll be lycra, bottles, the fast bike and something a little more like thoughtful preparation. But a nice day out, even if I kind of wish I'd been on the hills on the other side of the valley.