Tuesday, 22 January 2008

the race


We love bikes because they are the physical representation of the subtle pleasure we derive from them. They act on us both as a symbol and as a means of fulfillment....
Charlie Woods - Bikie
I'm completely hopeless at this. I brake too often, and at the wrong moments. my back wheel keeps trying to skid out from under me, I wring my way clumsily through the curves. I started this sport too late. My muscles were able to fit themselves to my bike, they actually liked it: muscles are tractable and learn tricks fast. But racing downhill is a matter of nerves, and from the very start my nerves have thought: to hell with you and your bicycle racing.
Tim Krabbe - The Rider
but neither of these was riding for 24 hours.through a forest. in the dark. on ice.
the omens were there from the start when the campsite was too chewed up to drive on and the marquees were destroyed by the high winds before the sun even went down. we were in a hotel by this time but we knew what we were coming back to.
as the day dawned the wind had lessened but it was still raining, giving a nice glisten to the ice we were about to race up. i had already made up my mind to hang back and let the first riders chew up the ice but even so on that first lap it was like glass. i fell over within 300 metres of the start and that was while i was walking! of course my shifters broke soon after so that was me more or less single speeding for the rest of the event.
ground round for four laps. started vomiting on the fourth so decided s rest was in order. felt better but couldn't manage a fifth as my left knee felt like someone was blowing up a balloon in it. went for sleep unhappy!
woke at four. left to sleeping and went back out. legs felt good and i felt warm. had a nice fifth lap, conserving my energy. felt good for another four and was sure, if i kept my fluid and diet intake up, i could manage. foolish confidence! whether it was the constant jarring but shortly into the sixth i was getting vague pain in my right knee that got rapidly worse every time i put any force through it. then the rear tyre went. i was back to pushing and any warmth i'd built up was rapidly vanishing. i came back down to the start only able to pedal with one leg. i climbed off, turned in my timer, hirpled past the tv people and back to the van.
was i disappointed? i'd hoped for more laps but no, i'd finished the event, i'd got through the night, done more laps than last year and pushed myself further up the learning curve. i kept waking up in the van on the way back, seeing ice in front of me. i wasn't the only one!
but the plans for the next race are already being made. why do we do these things? because they're there is only an answer to fend off those who don't. there is a community amongst us,that's true and it's great to see the faces at the races, see who's done what and where. for most of us we're never going to win, never come close so it's not about that but there's something about the race that makes you push yourself that bit harder, dig a little deeper.
i've done a thing recently where i've been out with the touring guys doing the uphills. there is no hill i say to them, there is only a question. that's what the races are like. there is only the question and i'm never quite certain what it's asking. answers? irrelevant! there's only that moment of existence, of vanishing and then, really, it isn't a race at all

3 comments:

Sorlil said...

man alive you don't do things by half! I'd much rather climb a mountain than attempt cycle up any hill, at least you get the pleasure of being at the top, this just sounds like a punishment!

swiss said...

it's a laugh! honest!

some nice pics here
http://www.flickr.com/photos/19041361@N00/sets/72157603778097793/

and an alternate version of events here

http://www.on-one-shop.co.uk/?&MMN_position=315:315

Sorlil said...

wow ok with that backdrop it makes (slightly) more sense!