Friday, 24 July 2009

it's not about the bike

“It’s not about the bike” is the title of Lance Armstrong’s autobiography. It is an inspiring read whether you are a cycle racing fan or not. Any way, Lance is currently at third place in the 2009 Tour De France. This is a fantastic achievement for the 37 year old American who has been away from the Tour for 3 years. I had a £5 bet with Steve that Alberto Contador would win this years tour while he went for Armstrong. I remember a good humoured argument over this in his kitchen when I was saying that a riders ability to recover in the tour with it’s punishing daily grind is paramount and I suggested Armstrong wouldn’t have his old magical powers of recovery that made him so outstanding. Well I was wrong even though it looks as if my man Contador will win by more that 4 minutes. Armstrong has obviously recovered well enough to put him in third place but with the terrible Ventoux mountain stage to come tomorrow, I think Lance will slip back to 4th or 5th.
So why am I telling you all this? Here I am recovering from a 30 mile ride along the south coast yesterday with my dear friend Ramblin Mad ( Dave Randell ). I ache a little bit but otherwise I am feeling good.
Dave has been urging me to set a date for ride out or two for ages and I have been out for the odd ride on my own in the night. Any way we identified yesterday as the day this week with a plan to go to the coast and ride together for a while. The day before I tried to slip out of it on the grounds that I wasn’t ready and didn’t wish to be left behind on the road. Dave assured me that with his sciatica and lack of miles in his legs we would be looking for a flat course and would take it steady. So I agreed and we set off the following morning heading for Hove.
We duly arrived at our Sat Nav destination on the sea front. Dave had prepared every thing. Two foldable chairs, kettle, cups, bowls for cereal and bags of provisions including energy drink for our bidons ( Oops! Getting French there – water bottles) and energy bars. I’d had breakfast and my bottle was full but the freshly made cup of Assam tea was like nectar as we sat on our chairs in the glorious sunshine. I was very touched by Dave’s effort to make this work.
After a while we got the bikes of the car and set off slowly into a stiff headwind towards Devon. Sounds good eh? Dave had asked which way we should go out and thinking of the three lumpy bits on the way out past Brighton and that there would be a headwind on our way back I decided we would go West. The first few miles were painful as we rolled along very gently. With our little echelon of two, with me sheltering from the wind behind Dave, things got better at around four miles as we turned off the main road and along the lovely coastal cycle path. We stopped for a breather and I felt better as we watched wind surfers on the beach just before Worthing. We had picked a great day for it but sitting in the sun with the wind blowing in our faces I was looking forward to the time when we would turn back with a tail wind. We rode on through Worthing and out the other side. We rolled around the pretty villages and lanes for some time before we felt that lull in the breeze as we turned, heading back. The ride back was done in one go and a good deal quicker. If it hadn’t been for traffic we would have gone even quicker and I was able to go to the front.
We arrived back at the car and changed out of our cycling gear. The bikes went back on the roof and we set off for the hills for some cerebral relaxation and tea. We ended up in a National Trust lay by overlooking a beautiful view of Devils Dyke. Dave made the tea and we sat on a grassy slope and chatted for a while and discussed other possible locations for our adventures before setting back to London. My legs burned with the old familiar lactic acid ache and I felt great. I felt great because finally I had made the start line and in our very small way we had triumphed. Energy over apathy.
I am 61 and Dave will be 60 next year and we ‘aint done yet. I reckon we can get fitter together. Soon I will be able to climb again. Slowly, as always, but steady and sure knowing I will fall like a stone down the descents. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeh! Once again my old mate has come good. It was his insistence that all would be well that really gave me the push I needed. Give it a few months and we’ll be rockin. I couldn’t ask for a better companion in this so, thanks mate for all your love and care. Here's to the next time.


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