bikebritain Says June 15, 2011

RIDE24 - Lukey's Final Say

Well, friends, we are almost there. As I write, there are four days to go until Team bikebritain begins it’s 2011 RIDE24 campaign. This will be my last diary entry prior to the events, principally as I will probably become so incoherent in the days leading up to the event that I will make even less sense than usual.

My own training; well, I have made peace with myself and concluded that I have done my best and what will be will be. If you don’t see a follow up piece, you can conclude that what will be was a humiliating failure and I’ve gone into hiding. Over the past 10 or so weeks, astride the hybrid and the Trek, I have clocked up 700 miles across 3 counties, and have sworn at 421 drivers and 414 pedestrians along the way, most of whom have returned the favour.

If I’m honest, the feeling of harmony and contentment I am feeling has very little to do with any sensation that I am up to the task. It has everything to do with the fact that when I was cycling from Horsham to Bermondsey on Tuesday, I passed a cyclist coming in the opposite direction. A cyclist clad so exclusively in authentic cycling attire and straddling something so expensive-looking that he could have wandered off from the Critérium du Dauphiné. This cyclist saw me coming towards him in my t-shirt and indoor football boots (yes, still), and waved at me. He. Waved. At. Me. Not, I don’t think, a “Christ-man-you’re- far-too-fat-for-that-bike-for-the-love-of-God-get-off-immediately” sort of wave, definitely a respectful cyclist-to-cyclist sort of wave. Now, he was going very fast and I was not and he could easily have been mistaken, but he could equally easily have not been and been welcoming me into the fraternity of Actual Cyclists. I’ve decide it’s the latter; none of you can stop me.

With my competitive spirits roused, my attention turned to the piffling detail of how the event actually works and the Team bikebritain strategy. I thought that ten days out was an appropriate juncture to work out how I was going to get to Goodwood, what I needed to take, and when I was supposed to arrive. As it turned out, this gave me a large number of new things to get worried about. The race strategy, rather obviously, is quite important. It isn’t just how my six hours on the track are divided up; there is also the role of the deputy to the man on the track in case of urgent puncture / mechanical problems / illness / embarrassment to consider. The many levels of complexity and the various strategies are dealt with in an excellent article elsewhere on this site, where you will see that a certain member of our Team has his eye on volunteering to take on the ‘night-shift’ on his own, i.e. one continuous blitz of 4 or 5 hours. I’m not sure if this is desperately heroic, madness or if, in fact, the night is the optimum shift and this person wants to gobble it all up for himself. In a way, such a stint appeals to me but I think that is because the cover of darkness means less people will see me cause a 27-bicycle pile-up. After sending many hand-wringing e-mails to the Team filled with just this kind of rubbish, I was relieved of my involvement in “anything to do with logistics” and basically told to make sure I turned up and leave everything else well alone. Hurtful stuff, dear reader, but probably for the best. The rest of the Team have probably been reading these articles (somebody has to) and have rightly decided I am a liability.

Marginalised from the preparation, I gave some thought to sleeping during RIDE24. I’m prepared to accept that it’s a given that I won’t get a good 8 hours in, but if you’re stood down from actual cycling or waiting in reserve for, say, 3 hours, the pressure to get some shut-eye will be overwhelming. What will almost certainly result is a few hours’ wide-eyed insomnia and my last stint (or two) completed in a zombie-like fashion which might be manageable for your Actual Cyclists, but if you only received your first cyclist-to-cyclist wave a fortnight previous, this has the potential to be a terrifying experience for both me and everybody else. Apparently Chris Boardman is turning up at some point to join the fun; it’s even money I run him off the track in my sleep-deprived state.

So, here we are. For all my worrying and complaining, I’m optimistic Team bikebritain can bring home the bacon this weekend. And, of course, by bacon I mean a respectable position and minimal psychological trauma for ourselves and a barrow-load of cash for Action Medical Research. It has also been mentioned elsewhere, but you can sponsor us and contribute to this fantastic cause at http://www.action.org.uk/sponsor/bikebritain. 

Fingers crossed I will avoid crashing into any Olympic gold medalists, or anyone else for that matter, and be posting a report on how we got on next week. Until then, readers.

Lukey.

Words - Lukey

Thumbnail - RIDE24

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