Monday, 26 July 2010

24/12, the condensed version...

I learned some stuff last year, notably that cycling is just a game. In real life, other things matter more and while riding bikes is great and kept me more or less together for the last 12 months, it is 'just' riding bikes. Life and death and people and love - friends and partners and family - all trump bikes when the chips are down.

Blimey - pre-race mode and almost organised....

But in a race, that shouldn't matter, that's the point of it, isn't it? Suspension of normal rules. So why after nine-and-a-half hours and nine-and-a-half laps of a 24-hour solo at 24/12 am I very rationally debating the pros and cons of jacking it all in? The thought process goes a bit like this:

Me: 'This is shite, the course is getting desperately wet and slippy and dangerous and some knobber has already knocked me off once and made a big dent in my shin.'

Me 2: 'Man up, it's about finishing and doing, not having 'fun'.'

Me: 'Yeah, yeah, I know that, but if you're not enjoying the riding what's the point? What's the point of riding at all?'

Me 2: 'Because you're going really well, feeling strong, eating and drinking well and if you bail now, you'll regret it later, you know you will.'

Me: 'But I'll also be trashed for SITS in two weeks time and let my mate down whereas if I stop now, I'll be more or less recovered by then and - shhhh... - it might be dry there. And I could ride faster, I hate riding slowly, hate it...'

Me 2: 'You knew that when you sent the entry off ffs, you idiot. Look, just keep turning the pedals and we'll talk again later.'

Me: 'But riding bikes is just a game. And right now, this isn't fun. Isn't enjoyment what this is all about?'

Me 2: 'Pathetic cop-out. But if you're happy with your decision then what the hell. Just don't whine about it later.'

Me: 'Deal. '

And I'm quite happy to have stopped. I'm not really a natural endurance rider - fast twitch sprint athlete me - and somewhere, I think, my internal rev limiter clocks in at around 12 hours, I loved the 12-hour solo I did a year ago. Maybe it's just mental and maybe in drier conditions I'd have seen things differently, but then 24-hour racing is as much about dealing with the conditions as it is about riding fast, dry, sinuous singletrack. So there you go.

So I went to bed and did some pitting for my friend Julie and was chuffed to bits for her when she not only completed her first ever 24-hour solo but came a solid third as well - thanks Rory for reminding me that helping a mate do well counts every bit as much as your own stuff.

And the best bits of it all were catching up with friends I've not seen for a while - hello Rob for one - and Pitch who had a cracking, gutsy ride and everyone else and some sterling chats out on the course, for some reason mostly with women soloists - why is it that lasses seem happy to chat while blokes, even slow ones, seem fixated on burying themselves deep in some personal pain cave.

Anyway, powder mostly dry for pairs at SITS, ten hours of fun, slippy riding under the belt, limited nausea, one ace sausage and bacon sarnie and too much driving. Now about that big pile of kit in the front room...


  1. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha... you said 'pain cave'!!!

    see you Thursday :o)

  2. Hmmmph, I used the expression as an ironic take on people who use the expression without a hint of irony. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Great course in the dry though.

    Hasta Thursday! Julie might join us as well.

  3. ps: bring your slides from Iceland ;-)

  4. Did I write that up - sounds like me.
    You and me could ride 24 hours straight point to point. It's not the big hand going round the clock, it's the drudgery of lap after lap that does for us.