By the end of the week the 9 to 5 office working cyclist is like a dog on heat. We can almost smell the weekends racing, and are eager to get that last session in that will make absolutely no difference to Sundays race. We take great pride in strutting into the office, necking the remains of our water bottle with that fresh “just out of the shower” look. Go on; ask us “Have you been out on your bike?” (add “in that weather?” for greater effect). In your mind we are 1980’s lycra clad aerobic instructors and you really couldn’t care less if we’ve been out cycling. In our minds we like to believe that you think we are finely tuned athletes.
Friday afternoons become a stand-off for the inevitable conversation about the coming weekend. Warning: Under no circumstances must a cyclist instigate this conversation or you risk appearing as a self-consumed cock. Somewhere between “Who’s on the Late Late Show tonight?” and “Do you want to do the lotto?” a colleague will utter the question “Any plans?” They’ll soon wish they never asked. Ask any of us anything bike related and it’s like sparking a light behind our eyes. A non-cyclist may regret poking the bear fairly quickly as we drone on about cycling to just about anybody who will listen.
“On Sunday I’m racing the Cycleways Cup in Navan”. Go on ask me. “How far?”, “How long will it take you?” I will make two laps around the block sound like I’m cycling a lap of the country. This is my chance to big myself up and portray myself as some kind of Johnny Big-Balls. Leaving work they’ll say “Best of luck in the big race”. You’ll tell them you don’t have a hope of winning but in your head you’re wondering if two hands in the air is an appropriate celebration.
Of course when Sunday arrives the ego is fully back in check, you don’t want to make a show of yourself in front of better cyclists. All expectations are played down. “How are ye feeling?”, “Shite! I dunno why I bothered turning up”. Advice is sought and any amount is given. “There’s a big guy who did well last year. Find him and stick on his wheel.” Sure enough at 20km to go the big guy gives a dig up the races main drag. Thankfully my legs respond but with a nice little dose of cramp in my thigh. I kept turning my legs in the hope that the cramps were only temporary. At one point I’m rubbing my leg up and down and groaning in the middle of the bunch. God only knows what the others were thinking but I was desperate to keep going.
Sprinting out of the last corner at 6km to go both legs seize up to let me know that standing’s not going to be an option. At this point I’m resigned to my legs completely giving up when the pace picks up but I’ll see how far they’ll take me. I’m so focused on my legs cramping that the sprint catches me by surprise and somehow I’m actually in a good spot to plough on. With each pedal stroke, cramps are firing off me left right and centre. If I stand to sprint my legs will explode, so I’m head down in the saddle praying to make the line. I can’t believe it, cramps and all I come in fifth!
Monday morning. Johnny Big-Balls rolls into the office, cock of the walk. Sits on his throne and awaits the inevitable question “Get up to much the weekend?”. That will then open the floodgates on his tale of great strife and victory. Here they come over to my desk now, what will they ask, where will I start? They’ll all want to know how it feels to be 5th.
“There’s a meeting at 11 are you available?”………………………………