A Sunny Sunday morning sipping coffee. Lavender honey on Jades toast mixes with the smell of fresh ground coffee beans. Blue tits and sparrows jostle on the bird feeder and soothing tunes float around the living room. Calm.
2 hrs later and I submerge myself in the polar opposite. ITS RACE TIME. I feel sick, nerves. Will I ever stop feeling sick before kick-off. I’m high on caffeine and an energy gel. My legs are shacking. Other riders are looking at me, I’m looking at them. GOD just blow the whistle. Let’s get this show on the road.
“You will start in the next 20 seconds”.
Tactics. What are my tactics. Too late. The whistle shrieks and tyres fight for grip on the loose rubble. It’s an uphill start and I’m at the back. What are my tactics. Got to plan this and be prepared for the next hour and twenty minutes. Conserve the energy and finish strong.
“By the power of Greyskull … I have the powerrr!!!”
“Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?”
—Sergeant Major Daniel Daly
If I wasn’t feeling sick now I sure was once we entered the quarry. My dear Dad once said to me “Out of sight son and out of mind”. That was my plan. Balls out until I was out of sight then just hang on. I’m sure it’s not out of the racers text book but hell, it works for me. The climb conquered and I’m in the quarry. Clicking down the gears I push hard towards the next climb. No time to look back. I need to deal with my own issues. Excessive heart beat and desert mouth. A giddy feeling under my crash helmet. Legs wanting to relax a little. COME ON keep it going. PUSH, PUSH, PUSH.
I pushed for 5 laps. My bike did me proud, my energy reserves held up. I crossed the line a happy man. I still felt sick though.
7 day’s later and I’m on a train bound for Dumfries and a hastily planned trip into the Scottish borders. My plan was to cycle from Dumfries to Mabie Forest and ride the trail centre. Ride onto Dalbeattie and do as much of the trail before the sunsets. Grab some ZZ’s then head onto Kiroughtree and into the Galloway forest following cycleway 7.
154 relaxing enjoyable miles. Me, my bike laden with kit and my thoughts for company. My ride consisted of quiet back roads and undulating lanes. Rural corner shops kept me fuelled with jelly babies and oat cakes but once off road the wild took over. Red Kits and deer sprung from tree branches and out of trail side bushes. As I sat by Bruce’s Rock a Golden eagle soared in thermal circles high above. I followed route number 7 high into the hills through timber forests and Glens. A cycled round Lochs and reservoirs and eagerly awaited the next summit vista. Alas the trail does end and the tarmac route back to Dumfries arrived sooner that I had thought. “10 miles done onto the next 10. Keep those pedals turning, your almost there”.