A glacial epoch back or so, I expounded my new found theory of cyclonomics, at which point – work being pretty much done – I smugly awaited multiple nominations for economics awards, Nobel prizes and global lecture tour invites to wow the world with this unheralded insight into why riding bikes was both fantastic and fiscally stimulating.
As even the most delusional – even those barely tethered to reality – would quickly ascertain, any letterbox widening on my part was somewhat premature. For me it’s been a one man credit card crusade to prove a theory that has so far delivered not much more than ‘bloody hell that’s a shit load of stuff I appear to own now‘.
Take the Goshawk 50 for example* where any treasonable thought of Gym membership was usurped by freezing my cods off on a weekly basis to ensure a result somewhere at the respectable side of mediocrity Saved myself thirty quid a month for at least two months before spending the balance and quite a bit more to actually participate in the event.
£20 to enter of which a chunk is donated to charity feels like a fair swap. That lot ^^^^ up there less so. Best described as analogous to a hated visit to the dentist. After pondering it for a while, you sort of feel you should, but you rather wish you weren’t. And then you get to pay a huge chunk of money for the privilege of having a shit time. I’ve always assumed this is how posh status-concious people feel about the private school system.
So what we have here are purchases that represent nothing but survival. Some items shall be eaten, some will be drunk, some shall protect important squashy bits from collision trauma, and the remainder may partially protect ones derriÃ¨re from a Welsh enema.
Let’s start there; on leaving the Chilterns and their 10 month mud cycle, I swore that never again would any proper money purchase another mudguard. Gopping horrible aesthetically reprehensible objects best left to those with map boards and a wardrobe full of Ron Hill. Really, just BTFU,**, splash out on some splash resistant shorts and embrace the dirty protest served from your back tyre. Then I considered the enduring misery of a 50k pebble dashed arse, and a quick about face suggested twenty quid was an excellent investment. Sadly that budget wouldn’t stretch to my first choice, which was obviously a Navy Frigate.
This Welsh forest is trumpeted by the organiser as “all-weather.” I assume because that’s what it receives on a daily basis with a very clear emphasis on rain. Dispatching even David Attenborough to this latitude, he’d be bloody lucky to find any plant or creature which needed even a glimmer of sunlight to survive. And, as anyone whose ridden a bike off road in any kind of wetness, we can all agree on the almost limitless traction provided by wet roots. Right up until the point where we find ourselves somewhat embarrassed half way up a tree.
What else; well you the more keenly athletic of you may have spotted a collection of expensive placebo cynically marketed to our roadie brethren. My consistent if not always successful response to this nonsense around fuelling and hydration was to simply drink beer with bits in it. But always looking for a cheeky edge, I had my time trialling mate write me a plan on exactly how to prepare, what to eat, when to scoff it and how much to stuff in.
Absolutely nothing in there about a nice sit down mid ride with a cheese butty washed down with a cold lager. Worse still was his advice which suggested I’d need to find space in my bulging pack to bury my ego. Apparently any attempt to keep up with the fast/quite fast/a bit slow/one legged people on pogo sticks would torpedo my shark like assault through the pack some 10k from home.
Just the two little problems with that approach; 10k from home the real Al will be tucked up in the pub with a recovery pint and a bag of nuts, having decided that 25k of that winter madness constituted more than enough. And secondly the idea you’ve even sufficient energy to get in the way of any proper athletes when only single metric digits are between you and sweet, sweet non bikery lying down computes not at all.
Still the way he tells it, it sounds a bit like cheating so on that premise alone I’m up for it. And it validates going very slowly indeed, which opens up the possibility of taking a DFL position before hiding behind a tree then sauntering back to the start and turning the car heater on.
The rest of that package is mostly for the Alps trip some two weeks distant where body armour, van shuttles, big bikes and almost no pedalling at all shall take the place of pretending you can still vaguely hack it amongst your cross country peers. Ying, Yang and lying face down in the mud with bark abrasions are what make up this mountain bikers’ life. Could be worse, could be facing the same but worth next month with the HONC.
* I’d very much like to take it and place it somewhere in the seasonal cycle where hypothermia is less than a 90% possibility.
** Bottom The Fuck Up.