Tuesday, 6 March 2012
I apologise for the recent silence of my blog - but I basically “bonked” a few days ago and have not really recovered - hanging in a state of bewildered exhaustion whilst peddling at the same time. The “bonk” being to cyclists’ what the “wall” is to runners, that point at which you can’t carry on - but have too.
Last night I sat next to a bloke who hasn’t stopped cycling all week. To my 100 miles a day, he had 200 miles to his name. Indeed, not just 200 miles achieved, but 200 miles achieved, conquered, claimed and digested and a long frustrating wait for the rearguard to arrive before greedily departing on the quest for further conquest. This man was inhuman in his ability (like 10 others on this “expedition”) to just “keep going”. His only problem in life, he maintained in dinner discussion, was to maintain a family life during his vast weekend cross country jaunts. His wife was a runner, rather than cyclist, and that combination left little time to share tea.
The day before I “bonked” I was given the baton for the Wilmott Dixon team. This proud insignia of our team was a twin edged sword. On the one hand it was great to bear the banner for the team but on the other it meant that I had to remain at the head of the team for the two hour dash of the following 58km stage. As with Field Marshall Paulus in Stalingrad the honour of promotion was a poisoned chalice granted for its effect. No Field Marshall has ever surrendered, said Hitler to the surrounded and starving German leader of the 6th army in Stalingrad, and neither has any baton holder ever failed to complete a stage of the Aedas Cycle to Cannes. As the powers to be had seen my efforts dwindling this great offering was a further act of altruism to raise my spirits for the next leg. It worked and continued to work resulting in a burst of aggressive cycle mania that led to my electing myself for all the most gruelling stages despite my excessive exhaustion and resulting in recreational narcolepsy (happily falling asleep at anytime that I could).
Indeed this bout of enthusiasm had its effects on my poor steed which gave up at the foot of a hill as I grubbily engaged the lower cog of my front gearing wheel and the chain broke under the strain of 14 stone of human flesh taking up the slack in one great heave and I teetered momentarily before collapsing to the left (or was it to my right?), feet firmly clipped to their pedals and unable to prevent the inevitable. I swore. Loudly.
This brings me to the support team for this adventure who have been relentless in their attention and assistance. This has been made up of coach drivers, navigators, four support vans (one repair van and three for carrying excess bikes and baggage) an ambulance van, two sports therapists, and three outriding motorcycles. All have been fantastic - in particular the bloke who repaired my chain within minutes - and most particularly my new nameless French friend with the big BMW, moustache and smile. He has become a big part of my personal challenge. Without him and his music machine I would never have conquered (please pardon the liberal use of this word) some the mountains that we have traversed. Sounds such as “Eye of the Tiger” and “She’s a Man Eater” played loudly within inches of my bike have kept me going despite relentless exhaustion.
Anyway it is now the last day - we had a few beers last night in celebration - whilst nothing compared to the usual, still a big mistake. I feel up for this with gusto but we have a lot of hills to get over before we will achieve our goal. Remembering the French at Agincourt and to never take victory for granted when facing a cunning adversary and whilst recalling the 40 mile an hour gusts of wind of yesterday, I step forth to perform the final stages of my great adventure...........
More to follow....