Apologies for the lack of blogging – other projects have kept me busy, in addition to me not wanting to bore you all with “groundhog day” tales of using the turbo in my garage. However as the weather has improved then the bike has seen tarmac and misadventures have happened.
There is a lot of bravado in cycling, how fast can you go, how much can your muscles scream, unless you cough up a lung when you have completed a time trial then you weren’t trying hard enough. Look on forums or twitter and a phrase that turns up time and again is MAN UP or MTFU. Now given my last blog was about the excellent Sufferfest the tone of this blog may seem a little hypocritical however bear with me.
You see my issue comes with risk, riding on open roads with chav’s in clio’s or audi driving stressed Eric’s is bad enough, however the culture of MTFU often means pushing yourself into areas where trying to be “man” enough gets you into trouble. I had my own experience of this on my first sportive of the year. Not being the quickest up a climb, I find I can catch up by descending like a mad man. Couple this with the fact that a carbon super bike is out of my reach until the kids stop draining the bank of Dad means my heavier bike, once it picks up speed, descends well. Towards the end of cold and wet 55 miles the last descent beckoned and off I went, within 20 seconds a car overtook me and then due to a narrowing in the road it stopped. I hadn’t left enough room I had enough time to grab my brakes utter an expletive and then hit the back of the car, being a saloon I flipped over the back bumper and head-butted the boot. I don’t want to get into a helmet debate but the only damage (apart from my pride) was a few bruised ribs, so much so I was able to complete the sportive (after all it was a minor bump, I just needed to MTFU and get back on the bike!). When I got back to base no one asked how I was, the main question was (a little in jest) how was the bike!
This one crash has been enough to dent my confidence this was picked up by a rider who knows me and his pearl of wisdom was to man up! Yet again the term was used and on our next descent I let it effect me, I tried to be less harsh on the brakes, hit he apex of bends and be a “man”. However another wake up came a couple of weeks later during this years Cheshire Cat. I climbed Gun Hill only to have 3 paramedics come past sirens blaring, my heart sank I knew that yet another descent had caught someone unaware. I gingerly descended but was still gaining speed, I tried to let my fears go and then hit a huge pothole luckily as I wasn’t at speed my tyres took it but I was immediately back on the brakes. As I reached the bottom there was a rider being attended to (he was sat up nursing a broken arm or collarbone). It was a reminder again that we are hugely exposed if something goes wrong.
At the end of the day we only better ourselves by riding harder and faster however you have to ride within your own risk limits. For nearly all of us riding is a hobby that we should enjoy, we have lives around it, be it family, friends and work and it’s that should be in the forefront of our mind rather than an effort to MTFU. For you then ride as you wish but ride safe, for me I will be working harder on my climbing to put the time into my fellow riders as from here on my descending will be more Schleck than Nibali.