Tags: awards, book, magazine, personality, sports, SPOTY, vote, voting
*.♥.*.☆.*.♥.*.☆.* Now updated with NOMINATIONS and RESULTS! *.♥.*.☆.*.♥.*.☆.*
I was tired of reading about everyone else going to glitzy sports dinners in posh dresses and sparkly heels, getting inadvisably drunk and behaving inappropriately. Having completely failed to blag any invitations this year, I decided to put on my own awards.
I’m proud to present the inaugural Champions Of Sports Personality Book Of The Annual Cycling Dinner Awards Year Show Evening. The award categories are below.
Nominations all received two (2) or more votes.
Sports book we are most likely to sit with ostentatiously in cafés
You don’t have to read it. It doesn’t even have to be in a language you understand. But by perusing it, you’re signalling your in-depth knowledge of the sport, your discerning taste, your general inside-trackiness, your ineffable cool. Just make sure you’re holding it the right way up.
- Tim Krabbé – The Rider
- Matt Rendell – The Death Of Marco Pantani
- WINNER: MATT RENDELL
Sports book we sleep with under our pillow and will not lend to anybody, not even you, sorry, but, you know
This may/ may not be dedicated to you personally and signed by the author in his/ her ACTUAL HANDWRITING. You may/ may not recall him/ her looking you directly in the eye and asking, gently, ‘Is that one L, or two?’
- David Millar – Racing Through The Dark
- Matt Rendell – The Death Of Marco Pantani
- WINNER: DAVID MILLAR
Sportsperson whose no-holds-barred autobiography we would most like to ghostwrite
Someone out there must be seducing their ex-wife’s stepdaughters/ poisoning their rivals with strychnine-tipped spokes/ running a cyclocross series as a front for an international drugs operation. Someone. Who?
- Andy Schleck
- Jens Voigt
- WINNER: JENS VOIGT
Sports commentator we are least likely to turn the sound down on
We all mute the commentary and do our own, don’t we. But when your telly-watching priorities are stuffing your face with Kettle Chips and trying to persuade your partner to massage your feet, whose dulcet tones and questionable insights are least likely to offend?
- Magnus Backstedt
- David Harmon
- Declan Quigley
- WINNER: DAVID HARMON
Sports magazine we are least likely to reach for when stuffing wet cycling shoes
Online newspapers are all very well, but they’re not very absorbent. Happily, most of us still have a few cycling magazines lying about the place. Your decision in this category may be based on magazine content, or the texture and malleability of the pages.
- Cycling Plus
- Cycling Weekly
- WINNER: ROULEUR
Sportsperson we’d most like to be stuck in a lift with
This all-star, flagship category is a joint venture with @inspireajen, as a replacement for the increasingly irrelevant SPOTY. What you do in the hypothetical lift is entirely up to you, of course.
- Mark Cavendish
- Bernhard Eisel
- Jessica Ennis
- Marcel Kittel
- Richie Porte
- Marianne Vos
- WINNER: MARK CAVENDISH
The results (including a last-minute Editor’s Choice category, as I was upset none of my favourites had made the final cut) were announced via twitter in an all-star, glittering virtual awards dinner on Saturday, 7th December 2013. Everyone dressed up! The fizz flowed, the canapés were trodden into the carpet, and various unsavoury behaviour was ignored-on-purpose. Read my Storified summary of the evening here
*.♥.*.☆.*.♥.*.☆.* Thanks to all who voted and ‘attended’ the dinner! *.♥.*.☆.*.♥.*.☆.*
Tags: cheap shots, easy targets, humour, I love them really, they know I do
Imagine my horror when my copy of Everyone’s Favourite Well-Known Cycling Publication went through the washing machine in the (admittedly spacious) back pocket of my jersey this week. Distraught, I managed to piece together parts of the letters page…
Tags: biking, cycling, road safety, victim blaming
Motorists have a pretty well-developed sense of entitlement. All those #bloodycyclists, riding too fast/ riding too slowly/ riding in the gutter/ riding in the middle of the road/ wearing ridiculous clothes/ not wearing hi-vis (delete as applicable). Far from sharing the road, cyclists’ main responsibility seems to be to stay the hell out of everybody else’s way. OR ELSE. Yes, if you have the temerity to ride around on the road without leaping into a hedge at the first sight of a car, you’re asking for it. The most vulnerable road users – the ones who come off worst in any kind of collision – are held responsible for their own safety, even if there isn’t much they can actually do about it.
Several decades of road planning undoubtedly play their part in making motorists feel that their unimpeded forward progress is the most important concern on the road,
but this has been covered extensively (and much more thoroughly than I could manage) elsewhere. Me? I’ve got a squirrel in my sights. I’m blaming Tufty.
If you grew up in the 70s, you’ll remember the Tufty Club. And Green Cross Man. These road safety campaigns were aimed at children, emphasising the need for them to ‘stop, look and listen’ when crossing roads.
All well and good, perhaps. Children need to understand how to cross the road. Similar campaigns warned us about playing in dangerous places. In the same way that we needed to look out for trains on level crossings, or for river currents that might sweep us away, Green Cross Man kindly instructed us that it was up to us to look out for cars; that our safety on the roads was our responsibility. By putting roads into the same category as railways and rivers, these safety campaigns gave the impression that roads and motorists were as dangerous, uncontrollable and free of responsibility as rivers.
Those kids from the 70s are driving around themselves, now. And so are quite a few of *their* kids, having grown up watching their parents fulminating over stupid pedestrians just stepping out in front of them, #bloodycyclists holding them up, and using Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You as an excuse for trying to change the CD, eat a sandwich and check their @mentions while driving along. The other day, on a story about a child who ran out in front of a car, someone commented, ‘What kind of parent lets their child run out?’ No question there about who was at fault.
So I want this squirrel taken out. Yes, try and teach kids not to run into the road*; teach cyclists to ride assertively and visibly, by all means. But much more importantly, teach motorists to give up their assumption that the road is theirs, and theirs alone, and anyone who gets in their way is fair game. Instead of squirrels, road safety campaigns need signs like these:
Because we all pay attention to this kind of sign, don’t we?
* good luck with this one, by the way. From personal experience, I can say it’s harder than it sounds.
Tags: 2013, alexandra palace, ally pally, biking, cross, cycling, cyclocross, diary, rapha super cross, women
Entirely coincidentally (cough), we were visiting my Mum in North London when Rapha Super Cross came to Alexandra Palace. Having comprehensively failed to show her what ‘cross racing was like by weeping and DNSing at the last opportunity, I was keen to make amends.
The sun shone; the wind blew; the boys squabbled. Business as usual, then. Ally Pally was looking glorious in fashion-forward Autumn-Winter 2013-14 style. I got the boys signed on, then went for a ride round the course, immediately sliding over in the Spiral of Doooom™ (plus ça change, then). Good course: lots of charging around on the grass, bit of singletrack, out and up into the woods again, and repeat on the other side.
Primo (8) had one of his legendary meltdowns halfway round his second lap: I’M NOT DOING IT. YOU CAN’T MAKE ME. I HATE CYCLOCROSS. Me: OK then! I carefully ignored him for a couple of minutes; he climbed back on sheepishly and rode off again. He finished the race grinning about his prizes (Hope bottle and quick-release keyring). I tried foolishly to turn this into a Learning Moment. Me: See, it was much better to finish, wasn’t it? Him (immediately grumpy again): NO. Meanwhile Segundo (5) was busy being my CX role model, soldiering on happily despite being unable to ride half the course.
We milled around a bit, chatting to @Tiny_Pigeon and @TomStaniford, and looking in wonder at cyclists with BEARDS (rare sight in W Yorks). @iancleverly came over to say hello. @nik_tweet announced her arrival by smacking me hard on the arse as she rode past. I threw all my kit at @spandelles and went to line up. The women were in with the vets AND the juniors this time; they set us off in three groups, with the women going last. A commissaire called out names and women took their places, including the girl I’d just been chatting to; realising I knew her from twitter, I shouted ‘Ooh hallo @fentinator!’ There was no time to ponder how daft this sounded as my name was next. Yes, dear reader, for the first and very possibly the last time in my cyclocross career, I got GRIDDED. I actually got GRIDDED. I looked over to see @spandelles laughing his socks off. It didn’t matter.
I got an uncharacteristically good start and held my place in the middle of the group for ooh, half a lap, which felt very exciting (normally I’m shelled in the first few metres). While I was the only person who foot-dabbed in the middle of the Spiral of Dooooom, I didn’t fall off (as at least one other person did). Got a bit of a shock coming round one corner to find BARRIERS had suddenly appeared, but, unfazed, I managed to get off and back on again without drawing too much attention to myself. I charged into the woods excitedly and slithered around on one corner; the girl behind me said ‘Well recovered!’*
Quite a few people burnt me up on the long hill, but cowbells were ringing and spectators were shouting REMEMBER, YOU LOVE THIS! IT’S WHY YOU DO IT! and COME ON THE WOMEN! and so I had to, really, didn’t I. I got overtaken loads (including by @fentinator, who said ‘Hallo!’ cheerily as she lapped me) but I managed to reel one woman back in over about a lap and a half and finally finished ahead of her. Result!
The rest of the day passed in a happy blur of eating crêpes, riding around with the boys and shouting encouragement at the elites. My mum had a great time; I found her watching the seniors, literally jumping up and down going ‘This is really exciting! Is this on the telly, ever?’ We erred on the side of caution and skipped the fun race to go home; @spandelles cunningly avoided all post-race pit crew duties by going and getting on a train. My mum cooked the boys’ tea, and I washed all three bikes then fell asleep in front of Countryfile. A pretty good day, in anyone’s books.
* get me, with the SKILLZ
Tags: cycling, doping, humour, performance enhancement
Performance enhancement has been around since the ancient Greeks, as Lance Armstrong recently reminded us. Nevertheless, the precise details of doping procedures in the Olden Days™ remain inexplicably under-researched. For your edutainment, I present here a summary of the little we know.
Stone Age performance enhancement mostly involved athletes poking sabre tooth tigers with sticks. It’s estimated that this technique resulted in several sub-four minute miles, although this is hard to verify, as no-one had yet invented clocks, tape measures or writing.
The Romans achieved performance advantages principally through confusing everyone about who was winning at darts.
The Vikings, in between all the pillaging, fornication and so on, were quite handy at rowing, winning the double sculls for over a hundred years on a carbohydrate-rich diet of porridge and ale. They were eventually beaten by the English, who achieved a tactical gain through judicious ingestion of cheese.
As French speakers, the Normans had a natural advantage. The Bayeux Tapestry was an elaborate subterfuge to disguise the Normans’ innovative use of needles.
The Tudors invented hose, or what we now know as ‘compression tights’.
In Stuart times, Samuel Pepys pioneered the meticulous recording of doses and effects, noting in a cryptic system of pseudonyms and symbolic references how ‘Maria’ had a ‘loin of mutton’ ‘fried’, for example, and became ‘very merry’.
The Victorians cultivated a demeanour of disapproval of pretty much everything; doping was no exception. Contemporaneous accounts indicate, however, that the lasting popularity of the crinoline was partly due to its suitability for concealing centrifuges.
Wartime doping continued despite strict rationing. Under the motto ‘COOK UP! for KING and COUNTRY’ , resourceful housewives fashioned effective stimulants from a mixture of dried egg, Spam and scouring powder.
In the modern era, the lines between legitimate and illegitimate means are becoming ever more blurred. Even amateur athletes can now source a variety of products from painkillers to inhalers, and most of us enjoy a protein supplement washed down with a nice sedative of a Friday night.
Doping in the future will involve food pills, jetpacks and women in PVC boots. Honest.
Tags: anger, bicycle pumps, columnists, cycling, frustration, humour, ire, rage
Statistics show that, despite the so-called ‘war on columnists’, ad hominem attacks on columnists are still depressingly rare. As a cyclist, I’m concerned that more columnists aren’t being tortured horribly and sadistically with multitools. These pyjama prats, with their expensive laptops and fatuous cups of tea, hold up the rest of us with their self-righteous opinions while we try to get somewhere important, like the film section. It’s worst at the weekend, with armies of them writing two or even three abreast with no thought for busy readers trying to get past them to find out when Borgen starts again. Why should they be in our magazines at all, when they don’t even have to pay for them?
Meanwhile, popular, award-winning columnists are just making it worse. Soon every Rod, Jan or Petronella will be pulling on a onesie and cracking their knuckles. We won’t be able to move for #bloodycolumnists, writing wherever they like without a thought for the laws of journalism the rest of us have to abide by, like research and accountability. Why, if I had a pound for every time I’ve seen a columnist BWJ (bandwagon-jump), I’d be rich enough to start my own magazine.
No doubt this blogpost will attract the usual high-pitched accusations of inciting anti-columnist hatred. Columnists are well-known for being a humourless, self-important bunch; I’m one myself, so I should know. No, I just want us to hit columnists where it really hurts: in the pageviews. Although, if you can reach their ridiculous, showy, grinning little avatar with your bicycle pump, I’m looking the other way.
Tags: biking, broughton hall, cross, cycling, cyclocross, diary, race, racing, rapha, rapha super cross, skipton, women
We like Rapha Super Cross. There’s something for everyone: face painting, frites, DJ, mud, terror. Remember the draggy, sloggy, uphill gunkfest from last year? There were a few scores to settle with Broughton Hall. I put my determined face on, and we loaded up the car.
The forecast had been grim all week, but the rain mostly held off. Uncharacteristically, we only took one wrong turn before we found the venue. The boys leapt about excitedly singing the theme from Wallace and Gromit while we unpacked the car. I went off to ride the course (as usual, I had my backpack on; some wag asked me if I was planning a picnic) while @spandelles got the boys ready for their race.
They did well; Segundo (5) gave it some serious welly (‘I overtook someone!’) and Primo (8) rode up the banks like they weren’t there. They demolished enormous portions of frites while I tried to read Dutch and chatted to @melaniebbikes and @davewhite99 and queued for the loo and cooled down and generally did all the wrong things.
My turn. The vets went off first, then the women a couple of minutes later. @nik_tweet took a picture of me, grinning unconcernedly.
I chatted to @alisonkinloch, who was back racing for the first time since breaking her wrist (she eventually came third. THIRD. With a still-painful wrist. I could weep). I got a really bad start, choosing entirely the wrong gear and cleverly positioning myself on the outside of the first turn, and I gradually dropped back over the first lap. It basically just got worse from then on. The course was a lot more fun than last year: tarmac, and steep banks, and twisty bits, and woody bits, and barriers, and thick mud, and bridges. The Rapha chap gave me a highfive as I grumbled past. @antmccrossan called out my name over the tannoy. @bex_love and her kids rang cowbells and shouted for me. But all that couldn’t make up for the despondency of toiling round on my own, watching everyone get further and further away.
Soon, of course, I wasn’t on my own any more. The vets were coming. I’m a bit better at being lapped now (‘On your left!’ ‘OK!’), though @crossjunkie did give me a fright (he’s so STEALTH).It was getting hairy in the Spiral of Doom, with tight corners and deepening mud. The spectators were baying for blood, and they soon got it: I lost traction, slid over sideways and just heard ‘NO! YA F*CKER!’ as I landed on the ground with a bloke and his bike on top of me. Oh dear. He disentangled himself and sped off; I picked my bike up and was about to remount when someone yelled ‘SADDLE!’ Narrow escape…
So, that was it. I lifted the tape and tried not to cry in front of everyone. Chris Young offered to remove my saddle so I could complete the remaining ¾ of a lap without it. I declined (though I’ve regretted this since; I knew I couldn’t ride the whole thing standing up, but if it had occurred to me to run, I might have had a go). Chris tried to hide his disappointment at my lack of grit. Yorkshire hard men, eh.
Still. Broken saddles turn out to be up there with cute dogs in their knack of getting people to talk to you. I made a load of new friends wheeling my bike about. The chap who crashed into me came over and gruffly offered me a replacement (‘I’ve got loads of saddles.’). We introduced ourselves and made up.
We watched the elites racing, full of awe. Then I demonstrated my true cyclocross skill, which is as a spectator, screaming myself silly at the fun race. DON’T LET HIM GET PAST! CHANGE UP CHANGE UP! GIMME SOME RACEFACE! The sun came out as Wolf Man, Tinkerbell, the MTB tandemists and a motley crew of other hopefuls braced themselves for the wall of foam. It was a fitting end to a great day. And we’ve got Ally Pally next week to look forward to. I WILL FINISH. I will.
Tags: beginner, biking, cycling, manchester, national cycling centre, skills, track, velodrome, women
I was sad to miss the Ashton Hoyle CSP CX, as we had such a terrific time last year, but a wet Sunday saw me heading off to the nice dry velodrome with @1fishonabike for a British Cycling women-only Rider Development session.
This was my fifth time riding the Hallowed Boards™. I’m not sure why I felt so scared. Absolutely ready to cry, leave, be sick, or possibly all three. Maybe it was getting to reception and realising the session really WAS three hours long, and it wasn’t a misprint as we’d been assuming.
But we were there, with our kit on and our hire bikes and our silver shoes, and hordes of people a LOT younger than us were whizzing round the boards, so sloping off wasn’t really an option. We fortified ourselves with flapjack and hoped for the best.
Coach appeared, looking like a ginger David Cassidy, and talked us through the afternoon. Our group were sharing the track with another group, so we had 15 mins on the boards, then a break, then another 15 mins, and so on. He had a detailed plan and moved us through a set of activities, building our confidence and skills.
We warmed up with a few laps and tried to get out of the saddle. (HEEEELP.) (I did it eventually, though*.) The rest was pair work, riding side by side. We practised changing position so the person on the outside was on the inside, and back again; we rode low down on the track then high up; we moved up and down the boards (ride round by the handrail** then SWOOOOP down to the bottom trying to stay next to each other***, then up again); we rode closely behind another pair, changing positions so the front pair was at the back and vice versa. Then at the end, because ‘you’re not looking tired enough’, we rode in pairs up above the blue line and waited for our number to appear on the lap board. When it did, we ZOOMED down to the black line and rode a lap flat out. WHEEEEE.
It was great working with Hannah; we encouraged and supported each other through the wobbles. David Cassidy was pleased with our progress, so much that he amended his plan halfway through because we were doing so well. I was struck by how every time he described the next activity, I thought, ‘Oh, no. I’m not sure I can do that.’ And then I managed it, and of course this felt fantastic. Terrific teaching. At the end, he told us we should be proud of ourselves. I think we all were; I can’t speak for anyone else but I came away feeling completely different about track riding. Beforehand, I’d loved it but been terrified the whole time, and grimly aware of my limitations. Afterwards, I felt like anything was possible. We covered a lot of the skills necessary for track accreditation, so working towards this is the next step. I still need to practise riding close behind someone else (in the two-pairs exercise, I spent the whole time going OHGODOHGODOHGODOHGOD) but if I can do all that other stuff, I must be able to crack that too, right? Right?
There’s another women-only session, on 22 December. I won’t be going, because it’s Heptonstall Charity Fancy Dress Cyclocross day, but I can’t recommend it enough. Sign up. Go on. You know you want to.
* GO ME
*** shouting WOOOHOOO as you do this is not compulsory, but it’s hard to resist
Tags: biking, cross, cycling, cyclocross, diary, race, racing, temple newsam, women, yorkshire points
Yup. I actually made it to the start line. No mechanicals, no illnesses, and no attacks of CBA. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Are you sitting comfortably?
In the traditional Yorkshire Points stylee, we drove around (stunning) Temple Newsam park for about fifteen minutes looking for the right car park. Someone followed us, in the vain hope we knew where we were going. It’s all part of the charm. The boys and I went to sign on; my name was under Vets 40-50, rather than Women (apparently my Here Come The Belgians membership has granted me Honorary Bloke status. Result!).
The kids’ field was so enormous that the under-8s, under-10s and under-12s all had separate races. Segundo (now 5 years old and racing for the second time ever) gave it some impressive welly, chewing the bars: ‘I overtook three people, but then I fell off in the woods and they all went past me again!’* Primo (8) rode most of the climbs (a New Thing for him), though his newly-perfected remount dissolved under pressure*. While @spandelles tried unsuccessfully to feed them sandwiches, I dodged off to do a recce lap. We didn’t race at Temple Newsam last year, but it’s a belter of a course; lots of singletrack, which was fun but not too horribly technical, plenty of tearing across the grass and up and down little banks, and even a horrible up-a-steep-bank-over-planks section. You BEASTS.
Time to line up. I got chatting to a tester called Jess (‘What kind of pedals have you got?’ ‘No idea.’). I promised Nikola Butler I’d try not to bring her down on the first corner. The field was massive; @amyling and I were worried about being overtaken on the singletrack, but the staggered start (40+ veterans set off first, then 50+ and women) and the initial lap round the field seemed to string everyone out enough that it was never really a problem.
Anyway. You should have seen me. I zoomed over the singletrack! I cornered like a pro! I rode up all the steep little banks! (apart from one, where I fell off into a bunch of nettles, nearly taking @Chipps down with me). I lost loads of places every time we went over the planks, ‘cos I can’t dismount on the right hand side of the bike, but hey.
My remounts were ALL functional, even the ones where I only had a couple of seconds to get back on! I overtook a few people! I stayed out of the way of nearly everyone who lapped me! (apart from a chap who wanted me to ride over loads of tree roots while he took the smooth line; we bumped each other amiably and both stayed upright). A woman behind me shouted GET OFF YOUR BRAKES! encouragingly as we went down a steep hill; she overtook me at breakneck speed and came off spectacularly on the next corner. (She lapped me after a while, and had the decency to promise not to fall over in front of me any more as she went past.)
It was hard. Ooh. But it was GOOD. In typical fashion, I started getting the hang of it about three quarters of the way through. Crucially, it also felt PROPER. While I wasn’t giving Annie Simpson anything to worry about, I also didn’t feel like I was just making up the numbers any more. I was Trying Hard**, and doing a good job. As good as I could, anyhow.
Afterwards, I chatted to some of my new HCtB teammies, and rode around with the boiz on the grass in the blazing sunshine. I fell off trying to trackstand, and again trying to ride no-hands. We had some sandwiches, and an ice cream. It was too lovely for words. And when the results came in later, I was ecstatic to see I’d beaten some ACTUAL REAL LIVE PEOPLE. Days don’t come much better than this.
* Like mother, like son…
** I put my Garmin on for the first time in a race, mostly to check that I was really working as hard as I thought. It’s quite funny: my HR is basically a flat line across the whole race, at 92-95% of my (notional) maximum. So, yeah. I am Trying Hard All The Time.
Tags: biking, cross, cycling, cyclocross, diary, failure, women
Well. My ‘cross season didn’t exactly get off to a blistering start. Remember that water crossing at Keighley? I womanned right up and rode into it. My front wheel didn’t come out; I did a slow-mo faceplant, picked myself up bashfully, and rode off worrying slightly about the grinding noise coming from my gears. Two recce laps later, the chain jumped off for the third time and jammed solid. DNS. Never mind! I thought. Wakefield next week; I like Wakefield. But the Gods of Snot laughed at my mortal aspirations, and sent down a LERGY upon me, and lo, I DNSd for the second week running.
In between these events I had an ace time with @michgreig at the Velodrome. Most of the day passed in a blur of grinning selfies and sectionable antics, but she didn’t find the riding very jolly.
I love Michelle’s writeup of our day because it does something unusual: it’s honest about having an awful time on the bike. Mostly, judging from twitter, we’re all out there SMASHING IT and being AWESOME. Challenging ourselves, pushing ourselves, (wo)manning up. Of course, we can’t set new PBs or bag QOMs or ride further, faster or grimmer every SINGLE day. So on the other days, we tootle along through the bluebells on lazy café rides. The sun shines, we have lashings of ginger beer, and arrive home tired-but-happy. The odd bad day on the bike is explained through illness, or overtraining, or (occasionally) the weather (though blaming hailstorms for DNFs generally results in a sea of responses invoking Velominati’s Rules #5 and #9). Even the bad days are good, because we’re learning stuff about ourselves and fine-tuning our goals and… you know.
The subtext of all this is clear. We’re lucky to be bike riders; to be able to roll out of the front door and have fun on two wheels. This is abundantly true. But the flipside can be feeling isolated when you hate it.
The other day, I tweeted about how warmups make me want to cry. How I feel terrible for at least 30 mins at the beginning of every bike ride, and want to climb off and curl up in a ditch. (The last CX race recce I did, I thought I must be ill, I felt so awful: leg pain, chest pain, head pain. I was riding round in tears.) People came out of the woodwork to tell me this was perfectly normal; they all felt like that. So why had I never heard anyone say it before?
Jo Burt sent me his lovely piece on the fear of going out riding. I nodded compulsively all the way through. Lois sent me hers about giving up. Ditto. I wrote last year about DNSing through abject terror. We can’t be the only ones feeling like this. Why is it so rare to read about it?
Some of it it must be that weird combination of relief at stopping and selective memory. Every cyclocross race I do, I ride round thinking, ‘This is NUTS. Why am I doing this to myself? God, this is awful. Never again.’ Then it’s over, and within minutes I’m all, ‘Well, that was fun!’
Some of it is the desire to forget the bad bits, to present a happy face (the psychologist Naomi Baron calls this ‘my best day’ in relation to Facebook status updates). In terms of sports pyschology, this is probably important; Jo McRae writes on psychological self-sabotage and ways of staying positive about your riding. And nobody wants to be the one who brings everybody down.
But endless pressure to be positive is tiring and alienating. I moaned recently that I’d been riding all summer and Trying Hard and everything, and I was STILL crap. I got taken to task by a couple of people for letting the side down. In their eyes, if I said *I* was crap, I was not only putting lots of other women off riding when they needed encouraging, but also dissing anyone who wasn’t as good as me, by default.
But everyone has terrible days: days when they can’t get it together, their legs don’t work, and they want to give up. For some of us, these days are far and few between; for others, they’re depressingly familiar. Sometimes, we finish; but sometimes, we abandon, and we don’t have an excuse. Sometimes, we feel the fear, and manage to do it anyway; sometimes, we don’t, and anyone telling us to MTFU just makes us sob uncontrollably.
So this is to say it’s OK to fail. It’s OK to give up. And it’s OK to write about it. No, it’s necessary to write about it. It’s all part of riding bikes, and being part of this odd, lovely little community where people share their experiences and support each other. Happy/ crappy* riding, y’all… (*delete as applicable).