Have you ever spent months training for an event only for it to go so horribly wrong? Usually you get to at least start your event before it’s all unravels in a non-so-pleasant kind of way.
Regular readers of my blog will know that my main focus each year is the Wild Wales Cycling Challenge. I was the best prepared I had probably ever been and it was a challenge I’d looked forward to ever since I had finished last year’s event.
Everything was prepared the night before. The bike was all tuned up. All my gear, including drinks bottles, gels, bars, fully charged garmin, arm warmers, gilet was laid out ready for me to go when my lift arrived at 5.15am. Nothing could stop me now, or so I thought.
My mate Steve duly arrived on time. Everything (well nearly eveything!) was packed into the car and off we went to Bala where the event was due to start. We checked in at race control at around 8am and were given our swipe cards for checking in at each checkpoint.
On walking back to the car and then heading to the toilet for one final pre-race visit, it suddenly dawned on me that one thing was missing. I’d made a schoolboy error of huge proportions and forgotten my cycling shoes. Wearing only training shoes and having specialised Look pedals there was no way I could ride 90+ miles and cover nearly 10,000ft of climbing in those.
I felt sick, numb and then just angry with myself for the sheer stupidity of forgetting the one vital piece of equipment that I really couldn't do without. My cycling mates had no spare shoes and a quick check at race HQ met with the same response. There was absolutely nothing I could do - my race was over before I’d begun. There simply wasn’t enough time to head home and back again because that would have taken over 2 hours.
All my cycling mates headed off on the ride. I was left with the car keys and about 10 hours to fill before they’d be back! For about 2 hours I sat there dismayed and then I thought ‘just snap out of it’ so got the bike out of the car and decided to go for a very slow spin around the scenic Bala Lake. Soft-soled trainers and clip in pedals don’t make for that comfortable or easy a ride, but what the hell, at least I was out and killing some time.
(Looking none too impressed with myself on my solo ride!)
I clocked up about 20 miles round the Lake and then thought I’d head back to the car. With no change of clothes and another 5 hours or so to kill I thought I’d do the walk of shame and head into Bala town centre for something to eat or drink. Wearing cycling clothes and having no bike isn’t the most coolest of things to do!
I just figured the best thing to do was to find a seat outside in the local pub and hide my modesty under the wooden bench and numb the disappointment with a few beers. The last few hours (and a few pints) passed quickly and then the first riders started going past the pub so I knew the rest of the riders (and my lift back) would be back soon.
I clapped all the finishers home and acted as unofficial photographer for my teammates as they came to the finish and picked up their finishers slate. For me it was a harsh lesson learned and one that I hope none of you ever ever make.
The following weekend I took out my frustrations by smashing my nemesis, The Bwlch Penbarras climb, which I had failed in two previous attempts, so at least my fitness didn’t go to waste.
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