Well I at least thought I was prepared.
Instead, what followed is one of the most frustrating periods of my short cycling life. I wish I could be sat here blogging about how well the ride went, how I nailed it and crossed the finish line happy and so proud of myself, but I can’t. Instead here’s how it went down, but first we have to go back to Thursday. I also acted like a bit of a ball bag at one point, and its only fair to everyone if I don’t shy away from that fact.
So I left work, and walked to the bike shed and had a strange feeling when I got there to see my bike wasn’t! Whilst I’d been working, even though it was locked, covered by cctv and in front of an office some bastard had stolen my bike. I can’t even begin to describe how angry I was at this point. I was shocked, gutted everything rolled into one. I love that bike and was so gutted. Thankfully it was shortly found soon after dumped in a ditch. I should get it back this week, however it did mean I would be without a bike for the ride Sunday. Thankfully my friend Ash lent me a bike a Boardman CP comp, I’d used it before so knew it would be more than up to the ride so gladly accepted.
So on the day of the ride, I woke up nice and early at 4.30. I’d got everything ready the night before and after a good breakfast I set off, nervous but eager to get the ride underway. I was at the startline at 7.30 and ready to undertake the ride. The weather was good, I felt fit and keen. Everything seemed set for a good day…
Then 5Km later I got a flat tyre. This normally would not be a big issue however, the inner tubes I had with me did not have a big enough valve to fit Ash’s rims. This led to one comic moment of frustration, where I reached out and launched the nearest thing to me into orbit and a nearby field. That would have been fine, except as I watch it fly off I realised it was my helmet, so after climbing into a field of cows, rescuing said helmet, I trudged back to the start line. I ranted to Em on the phone but she was great at calming me down and realising that it was just a flat, don’t worry and get back out there.
The mechanic was great and a nice guy, he fixed the puncture, gave me a spare and 30 mins later I was back on the road. I started off pretty well and was really enjoying the ride. The hills thus far weren’t too difficult and I was eating up the miles. I was even able to enjoy the beautiful Welsh countryside and the gorgeous sun. Then I came up to what was to be the first real tough hill climb, so I went to change into a gear and psyche myself up. Then this happened…..
Now the pic isn’t clear but you should be able to see the derailleur at the bottom. It should be up near the gears in the middle of the pic!
The derailleur mechanism had sheered clean off. Luckily two guys behind me stopped and tried to help me fix the problem. They couldn’t sadly but made sure I got hold of someone before they went on their way. I don’t know who they are I think one of them was called Nathan, so if they read this thank you.
The mechanic arrived and said the horrible words I was dreading. “I can’t fix that mate.” Now if you a sportsman (or indeed woman) you can feel empathy with the frustration of having to retire from an event. If you look at the pic below you can see how glum I was:
I was gutted and had no way to vent, so we loaded the bike and drove back to my car. I feel so disappointed. I’d really built the event up in my head. Sadly I couldn’t even just go home at this point. I had to go and collect my bag that had been left at the halfway point. This meant driving along the route and overtaking the cyclists I should have been riding with. The route looked tough but fun and I don’t doubt I could have done it. The scenery was breathtaking but would have been better from a bike.
Then I had to drive home and the frustration just built. I went over the failure in my head over and over, I was so angry, fed up and gutted. By the time I got home I was so fed up.
Then I did what really shamed me, I took this all out on Em, with a full on rant saying some shitty things her way, all because she had the audacity to try and be a supportive partner like she always is. At this point I end up crying like a little child. All that was needed was stamping of feet and I’d have been 5 again. I think it was all too much, the stolen bike, the mental prep, the failure, and I just sobbed. A complete over reaction I know but I wanted this so much, to complete 100 miles and one of the toughest events I’d entered.
It was all just too much I wanted to finish this event so much; I failed to heed the comforting words of friends who meant well. I just couldn’t look past the disappointment, but now I’ve had time to live with it. Em and the others are right. It was a mechanical failure, not mine; it was something I had no control over. I didn’t quit, a piece of machinery did. I did fine; I pushed the bike back after the first failure and tried to go again. Something just didn’t want me to finish that race. Like my stepdad said it could have been a lot worse.
I’m going to be apologising for my behaviour to Em for a long time and got a lot of making up to do! Yes I was angry but I had absolutely no right to take it out on her. All shes ever done on this is support me, shes put up with the early starts, tired cranky russ, the money spent on the bike and my swanning off to events without a complaint and the first time it gets tough I take it out on her. This is definately not on. I’ve told her already but I’m putting it out there publicly; Em i’m sorry for behaving like a twat, you were trying to help and I should not have taken it out on you.
So after the sobbing, the apologising etc, i’d calmed down a lot and took start. It was just one of those things. I need to deal with the failures a lot better. There will be lots of hard times over the next year and i can’t get so melodramatic anytime this happens. I need to roll with the punches, what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger and other lame cliches etc etc.
Ash was as gutted as me with the bike failure and I’m grateful to him for loaning the bike. It was just one of those things; no one could have seen it coming. The pictures Em took show how bad it was:
So this is going to be a long week now, I’ve another event on Sunday. 118 Miles from Bristol to London. But this one will be different. I want to go NOW and blitz it. But I’ll wait till Sunday. I’ll have my bike back and will prepare well. The failure last week all adds to the story I’m telling with this ride. I’m pretty sure my old man had a hand in it, he always did have a morbid sense of humour.
To quote my favourite poem:
It may be near, when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
Its when things seem worst that you must not quit.