It’s 5:15 am, I’m lying in bed and the alarm hasn’t gone off yet. I reach over, pick up the phone and switch the alarm off before it buzzes and wakes Ais. I slip out of bed and out of the room without disturbing her.
Woke at 5:30am. Got up. Made coffee. Went back to bed and did some work. Got up again and made more coffee. Went back to bed and did some more work. Got up again. Put on the speedos. Decided I needed another coffee. Decided I should drink it in bed. Got back into bed. In my speedos. Trying to decide if I want to lie down more than I want to swim.
I’ve been fixing bikes for over twenty years. I like to think I’m a reasonably competent bike mechanic. But holy shit. Seven broken tyre levers and the stupid fucking tyre still refuses to go on.
Ok. I’m getting ahead of myself. So this is what happened.
I’m doing mechanical support at TriAthy. Apart from Ironman it’s the biggest triathlon in the county. Two thousand athletes, a large proportion of whom are first timers, beginners, newbies, tri virgins. It’s been my favourite event to work at for years.
It’s the same every year. Someone (actually usually it’s about thirty someones) shows up with a bike that’s broken or not safe to race and they’re turned away from transition and end up over with me at mechanical support panicking that they won’t get to do what is usually their first tri.
I get a big buzz from saving someone’s day. I feel like a superhero with an Allen key and a track pump.
Anyway a woman showed up to get a puncture fixed, easy one. So I peeled off her tyre, pulled out the tube, cleaned the tyre and replaced the tube. I started re-fitting the tyre and needed a tyre lever to get the last bit on.
“Man this is tight” I think to myself and then there’s a snap and the levers broken. “Shite” I think. I haven’t done that for a long time. “No problem, I’ve brought eight levers with me” I think to myself.
I love the feeling of being a triathlete. I felt that swimming the other day for the first time in a long while. The feeling of gliding through the water, not exactly effortlessly and I’m sure it wasn’t pretty but I wasn’t drowning either.
There’s something about ow it feels when I start back swimming, it feels like I’m training. I start to feel like an athlete again.
It doesn’t matter if I’m already running and riding every day, that’s just what we do anyway. A morning run with Ais or an easy coffee ride with John on a midweek morning when we should probably be working but say fuck it lets ride instead. Read More
I look in gates as I pass and every one is different, a field full of hay drying in the sun, a perfectly manicured lawn, a crop of wheat swaying in the wind, a meadow full of grazing cattle.
Then I turn a corner and start to climb I pop up out of the saddle and I’m dancing on the pedals. The tailwind is flattering me but I don’t care, it feels incredible. I sail effortlessly up the short hill, the sunburst paint of the bike glinting and shining and looking fucking deadly.
We started out a minute before the faster group. Chatting and cruising easily until they passed us. After that it didn’t take long for Ais to politely suggest that I should head on over and run with them. I knew what she was actually saying was “you’re annoying the shit out of me by running one step ahead and dragging the pace up. So why don’t you go and see how you get on over there half wheeling people”
At that stage they had opened probably a two minute gap from us but I took the hint (I’m not completely stupid) and picked up the pace.
Some of the best living is spent behind bars. Solo, misty, morning rides. Coffee, cake, country roads. Rolling hills, flats or full on climbs.
The silence of the countryside only broken by the sound of the chain on the cassette, the wind in my ears and the tyres on the road.
Since I’ve stopped proper, structured training I’m enjoying doing things I haven’t done in a long time. Saturday morning coffee rides and Sunday morning group runs are just two.
On both there’s some playing around. It’s the sort of stuff that I don’t tend to do when I’m training hard. I tend to do what I’m told, although Ais might beg to differ on this point. When I’m training seriously sessions are done (mostly) as prescribed as opposed to just going out and racing up hills and stopping for coffee with Durnin every 45 minutes or so.
I used to be (in my mind anyway) a cool city boy. I matched my kicks to my t-shirt, my jeans were clean, I drove a Porsche.
Now I live in the country, I drive a ride on lawnmower, match my work boots to my dirty old skinny jeans, have a sunburnt neck and have taken to eyeing up farm machinery on my bike rides.
You’ll note they’re no longer called training rides. Anyone who has as many coffee and cake stops as me isn’t training (are you listening Durnin?)
There’s an anticipation of the Saturday morning ride. I’ve been looking forward to it for days. I’ve had a couple of chances to ride during the week but have mostly managed to find reasons not to.
It was raining…
It was cold…
There was wind…
I couldn’t find shoes that matched my helmet…
I’m a soft lazy shit…
You know, just the usual stuff.