Thursday, 28 June 2012

A Truman Show Moment in the Midst of Mayhem

Mountain Mayhem that is. A properly ridiculous quagmire of a course. Four men, a teenage boy and a one-year-old baby. Mud, lots and lots of mud. And a rigid, ti, singlespeed 69er with mud tyres.

Somewhere in the middle of it, I wandered off left and I came to the end of Mayhem. Beyond the mud and the vans and the tents and the drawn-faced mud-splattered riders with their battered bikes and bodies. Beyond all that was a ten-foot deer fence with a matching gate complete with ladder stile.

On the other side of the gate was a green, improbably dry-looking field full of happy-looking sheep basking in rays of golden sunshine. And for a moment I wanted to just climb over the stile and keep walking without looking back.

A proper Truman Show moment.

But instead of embracing freedom, I looked out over sanity for five minutes or so, then climbed back down, wandered back to base and knocked out another lap.

It's not a bad thing to be reminded that riding bikes, racing bikes, isn't real. Is a luxury. A game. That you do have a choice.

But at the end of it all I was proud of us. Of me. No-one folded or complained or griped or panicked. We just kept riding and grinning and rolling through the whole ridiculous, surreal thing - 8th in vets, 13th in Sport Men, which wasn't too shabby. But actually the numbers don't matter, the people do.

Monday, 18 June 2012

A Small Ball Of Grrrr....

I love my Ragley Ti, it's mad in a totally uncivilised way. It wants to go - up, down, round, straight off things, straight over stuff, it wants to go fast.

Normally that's fine. Normally that's the best thing in the world. But after four weeks of kicking myself senseless in a structured way, on a long, steady, chatty,  autumnal - June is the new autumn you know - Peak District semi-epic, it simply isn't.

Try to ride it steady and restrained and mellow and it sulks and grumps like a hung-over dad woken on a Sunday morning by bright-eyed kiddies who want to go play in the park before breakfast.

It grumbles.

It hates meandering along the sort of rocky trails it normally skims over in a blaze of shiny aggression. It blunders up short climbs it'd normally dismiss with a blur of pedals and a high-pitched whir of sun-lit, ecstatic, take-off ebullience.

It sulks.

It still looks after you. Even when you're slow and tired, that slack head angle makes steep downs a breeze. And every so often it hints at smooth, blurry, speed.

But mostly it just sulks.

Said sorry to it. Washed the grit off its shiny titanium tubes. Gave it a virtual hug and put it back in the bike cave where it undoubtedly spent the night grumbling to the other bikes: 'He wasn't trying, the useless git. Just sat there waiting for me to do the work. I need a new rider, a proper one...'

Until next time, when normal service will be resumed. Sorry Rags...

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Where do I send the invoice?

Let's see: around 16 sessions @ £xx per session, starting in the bleak mid-winter and finishing in the bleak mid-summer. Letters, maps, mindfulness and something not unlike sunshine. Tears. And rediscovered music. A hard, glittery ball of crystalline anger that doesn't seem to be there any more. It rolled, unnoticed one day, under a virtual fridge.

Who do I invoice?


Six months ago I would have, really I would. But not now. The magical mystery tour of dark, broken confusion and shifting truths, things that were or were not or might have been in singular or duplicate and all of your different personalities seem like something from another life.

In truth I'm even a little grateful now. I dodged a huge bullet and, I hope, actually learned something for once. I hope I'm a better person as a result.

I never thought I'd say thank you, but thank you. And yes, I know you'll never read this.

Celebrated by buying new race shoes. Appropriately muted ones.