08 March, 2012

You win this round, Belgium

My plan for the day was to ride out to a Kermis, do it for training and then head home. It was about 35k away so not a bad warm up you might think. I set off with a rucksack and some essentials, just in case it got a bit nippy and I needed another layer.

That turned out to be my best decision of the day, as my body thermometer failed to realise when I left the house that it was hovering around 4 degrees and not getting any warmer. There was a lovely cross headwind to keep me company as well as lingering snow on the roadsides from the storm the other day. It was bloody horrible. As luck would have it my route had me heading along a suitably soul destroying main road towards the Wallonie region of Belgium, with complementary gravel and sand everywhere, and lorry drivers taking it upon themselves to play ‘scare the cyclist’ by hoofing it past me.

Just as I settled into a mediocre rhythm I took a wrong turn and had to backtrack two kilometres, and then I got a flat. By this point I was just having an all-round great time. I whipped off the tyre (obviously covering myself in that inexplicable grey crap that comes off wheels in the rain) in no time and realised that my fingers didn’t work any more. After a mano-a-mano battle of wills against my tyre I fixed the bastard and was on my way. This was when I remembered how much of a scrawny runt I’ve become. After a great winter (in terms of cycling anyway) I’ve got less body fat than a stick of celery and my heat retaining capacities are about as good as an open window.

I spanked it for the next 10k trying to get feeling back in my body; then just trying to get to safety. I was starting to convulse a little bit and my primary thought was getting to the headquarters and getting in a car. My fingers were starting to swell like little chipolatas and I couldn’t hold the bars properly. Then I started thinking about chipolatas, and sausages, and barbeques and summertime. I didn’t ride the race, in case you had any doubts.

Belgium, you can be a tough bastard sometimes. You win this time, but I’m here all year.

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