-Spend a bit more time adjusting suspension
-Add more sealant to tyres
-Other race food
-Weird shit may or may not crave at 10:30pm
-Garage Bikes race jersey (SS) x 2
-Garage Bikes race jersey (LS)
The lists are long. A couple of years ago, I’d got to the point where I could almost pack for a 24hour race without thinking about it. The same stuff went into the holdall a few times a year. I knew what I’d want to wear, what I definitely wouldn’t, what was worth bringing just in case. I’m not just out of practice with packing. More importantly, I’m out of practice at racing. Frankly, I’m “out of practice” at riding for longer than a few hours. Broken bones last year, and much more important things this year have meant that I haven’t had the opportunity or desire to train or race. Rides became too precious to be about training, fitness, targets, goals (not that they ever have been for me, really, but entering a race certainly creates an increased focus and intensity to my riding). Rides were rides for the sake of them. The best kind of riding. Fast when I wanted them to be, about the company when they could be, about the solitude when I needed them to be.
There is a part of me that I have been ignoring, though. The part that needs to push and challenge myself. The part that needs to test what potential I have. The last 8 months have brought more challenges than I ever thought I’d face in my life time. Real challenges. Life. Riding bikes is just riding bikes – whether it is at speed, set against the desire to be faster than other people and the clock – or whether it is a grabbed moment of gratification before a day in front of the computer screen.
Perhaps I’ve missed the luxury of the gratuitous challenge, though. Perhaps I’ve missed setting a goal that means nothing at all, other than something to me. Playing a game with the lowest risks going, even if it feels like the exact opposite while wrapped up in the experience.
So… the WEMBO 24hr solo race entry has gone in. Before then though, I have Torq 12:12. 12 hours of solo riding from midday to midnight. Not easy, but achievable. A challenge, for which my goals are modest – to finish, to spend as much of the time on my bike as possible, to enjoy as much as I can, to embrace the suffering and pain – to remember it is a luxury that I have chosen to put myself through.
It’s an honour to pull on the Garage Bikes kit and swing my leg over the Kinesis FF29, to stand on a start line. Both have offered incredible support over the last few months. True friends – in life, not just the game of bike riding.
The “satsuma army” will be descending on Minley over the bank holiday weekend… Garage Bikes teams out in force, with Al wielding the spanner as required. Look out for us on course, and give us a shout.