Cycling to the non cyclist is just riding a bike... to a cyclist its riding on the road riding, mountain biking, track racing, multi day epics, endurance racing etc etc .. in short its a diverse sport.
Just looking around my garage is evidence of the variety of riding just through the number of different bikes I 'need' to own.. a road bike, a winter road bike, a singlespeed mountain bike both 26" and 29" wheel, a cyclocross bike, a hack bike.. so if I had to define myself as a rider I would say I was a road, cyclocross, endurance racing bike packer with a love for endurance based events and short time trials.
This lack of clarity in my riding has often caused issue and seen me riding something I just didn't want to as I got caught up in the thinking that I needed to go and do something .. this was the case recently with my 'attempt' at the West Highland Way double .. I say attempt as the bike was packed, I was physically good, I was even near the start but no pedals were turned.
I had managed to convince myself that I wanted to ride the double.. I had kept the attempt under the radar.. I got well prepared and was physically ready but when I arrived at Milngavie and sat in the campsite I questioned my motives for being there.. would I enjoy the ride? would I return from it a better rider? why exactly was I there and for who ?? I couldn't answer any of these questions with any real conviction that would warrant the 35 hours plus alone in the saddle.. so I packed up and without a pedal being turned I came home.
Unsure of what had beaten me left me contemplating this situation for a few days... the duration of the ride was not an issue.. at Arrowhead I sat out there for 32 hours... I've previously ridden 270 miles in one sitting so the distance didn't deter me... I think I was beaten by the fact I was there on my own.. hardly the ends of the earth and no doubt there would be people on the trail but I had no desire to spend that time riding by myself and I think in this I have realised a key weakness that I guess I knew was there but didn't want to realise it as a sign that it could limit what I would like to achieve on a bike... this weakness is one I may go on to work through or one I may just accept and avoid these situations.
So from this non starting event I came away with some sense of clarity and furthermore direction ... I have always had a desire to compete but I can satisfy this as I have just done with a good cyclocross season... my desire to explore and be adventurous can be done so in the companionship of like minded souls or at mass start events where the knowledge that there are other people on the trail enduring the same experience in itself is comfort enough... this sense of direction leaves me even more motivated to do what I want to do and in a more prepared state for when I get there.
So what I was left with after not starting the WHW apart from an empty fuel tank in the van was time and good weather... so as not to waste either I made the most of what I had been gifted.
Friday saw one of the longest road rides I have ever done... The good road bike came out and with 4 other friends we took off onto the quiet country lanes to complete what was a very hilly 120 miles ... the simplicity was great... the weather was good so short sleeves and a gilet were all that were needed.. a pocketful of money meant extra food and drink was bought en route so pockets weren't bulging ... climbs were raced and descents were taken at full throttle... nothing makes you more alert than a cross wind on deep section rims on a 50mph descent... a fantastic day out.
Saturday gave me a chance to ride the bike that had been fully packed for the WHW... the Singular Swift I bought from Aidan Harding is an absolute joy to ride.. feels like you could just ride it forever.. Aidan pretty much did at last years Tour Divide. I rode from home out on the sustrans C2C route stopping in Consett to meet friend Martin ( the man responsible for all my treasured tattoos) .. from there we continued out on the waskerley way and after that stopped just overlooking Rookhope at a choice little bivi spot...
Dinner was made using the solid fuel ti stove 'walled' in for extra efficiency with a few stones.. the view was superb..
We were treated to a fantastic clear and star filled night.
In the morning we rode back to the waskerley way treating ourselves to a few latte's and a cooked sandwich before riding home... a great relaxed way to enjoy the bike.. I am sure me and Martin will get many more good trips in this summer and beyond.
Now after such a revealing weekend I am going to put training on hold for a few weeks and just ride when I want, run some, take Jay for some good long walks and get my business in order then it'll be time to go do the Grenzstein Trophy .. make some new friends and love the bike even more.