I write today’s blog in a more than moderately leg-weary state! And to say my undercarriage feels like it has been rubbed up and down a wash board a few thousand times would just about hit the nail on the head. Anyway- perineal state aside, today’s 100km Brissie-to-the-Bay charity ride for Multiple Sclerosis was a fantastic event.
There were a number of different distances available to all levels of rider, from 25, 50 and for the first time in the event’s 20 year history, a 100km quadricep searing ride out to the Bay and Back. It is what it says on the tin!
My day started low key and I woke before the alarm, as I often do when I know I have an important event on for that day: 4.45am. I did have every intention of doing some Yoga the night before as I had been suffering during the week with a bad back of my own. I don’t mind getting the occasional lumbago- it helps maintain my emapathy toward my own patients! Suffice to say my Saturday night ‘in’ got the better of me, and although I’m ashamed to say it I succumbed to a buttered chicken and some naan bread and a few episodes of Sons of Anarchy. Well at least I got the carb-loading box ticked. And besides; what better way to prepare for my longest bike ride in years!
I had previously the day before greased and oiled my trusty stead- and was satisfied that the magnificent carbon machine would get me through, so I had little else to do once I awoke. I quickly downed a bowl of oats and did a P90x warm-up routine. These home exercises are an awesome way to get overall body fitness and he (Tony Horton-Fitness Guru) preceeds every class with a full body warm-up. No better way to prepare mself for the action ahead.
I met up with a few of my cycling companions: Swiss Paediatrician Dr. Spartacus II, Mark the machine G, and the Palliative Care Ulsterman, Dr C. The irony of having access to two medical specialists wasn’t lost on me and I was hoping that palliative care wouldn’t be required, although it did comfort me!
I had never ridden with Dr Spartacus II- whom I dubbed this name after only 5km in as he proceeded to scoop his chain onto the ‘big-ring’ and single-handedly escalate the speed up to around 40kph. In a car this doesn’t seem like much, but for all of those who have ridden, I’m sure you’ll appreciate that this is a formidable pace, for a charity ride no less. Oh, by the way, Spartacus is the nickname given to the Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara who has won the World Titles in Time Trialling a staggering 4 times. It must be all that Swiss Mountain air!
After 50km of this edge-of-the-seat pace the mental battles began, where my legs were telling my brain to conserve and my brain was telling my legs; I KNOW! I did what Eckhart Tolle suggests- Make a change or surrender. Well I did both- with careless abandon I increased my speed to match Spartacus II and I dropped in on his ‘slipstream’- that pocket of wind free zone behind every rider and a zone that every weaker rider (me) loves to find. As it happens, I’m very good at finding this zone… And this is where I stayed for most of the 100km.
As I rode I kept waiting for the Swissman to ‘crack’ and I imagined myself stocically cruising past with a poker face and one eye-brow raised and offering this machine of a man my own slipstream- suffice to say, that didn’t happen more than once. And when it did, I got a fright because as soon as I pulled out of the comfort of the slipstream every muscle in my body screamed in chorus- “Are you crazy, man! Get back in there!”. Who was I to argue; sheepishly I offered my apologies for failing to provide more than a moment’s wind free travel for my companions, and I dropped back. This was turning into a journey of survival.
As we made our approach toward the finish, I was never so happy to run into a multitude of red lights. Normally cursing my misfortune in such circumstances, this time I revelled in delight every time I saw that little red star of mercy.
With 500m remaining I found myself ahead of Spartacus II, no this could not happen, it was only right that our trusty Swiss Diesel engine take the honours in this event that “wasn’t a race”. Ha, tell that to my legs!
It’s been awhile since my body has been asked to push itself for more than 3 hrs, but I was delighted with how I faired. After an obligatory coffee (cycling etiquette stipulates that it’d be rude not to accept such a beverage after any ride), I made my way, rather wearily, back home, riding slowly and enjoying the endorphin release that is a welcome and ironic side-effect of any intense exercise like this.
If you’re interested in where exactly this course went, have a look at the following link to Garmin. It’s a record of the ride on GPS and records loads of other measurements such as heart rate, speed, temp etc etc. If you’re into ‘toys’, cycling is your sport!
Enjoy the Journey!