Wednesday, June 29, 2011

RAB roundup

Well, it's now ten days after the end of the ride, and "real life" is back in force. I've managed to spend several days in Cornwall more or less comatose, but thankful to have finished on Sunday in the overcast-but-mostly-dry rather then Monday's fog-and-pouring-down-rain or this past weekend's 30+-degrees-oh-my-god-I-think-I'm-going-to-melt. I've managed retrieve my bike and clean it up, including changing the rear tube that had a slow leak on the last day (discovered a mere three miles from the finish, I opted to pump it up and leave it rather then change it out). I've slept a lot, gone back to work, and had to answer "How was it?" numerous times - my generic answer has shifted from "Wet. Very wet" to "Good. Very good" which I take as a sign of progress. I've even ridden again. That is to say, I commuted to work on my single speed today, and I noticed a few things.

1) Nine miles is not long enough for me to warm up anymore. Perhaps more ridiculous heat will help with this problem.
2) People who commute by bike in London are insane. Or stupid. Or some combination of both plus a sense of invincibility (oblivion?) which I find disturbing.
3) I kept looking for C's blue raincoat, and A's red jersey, and was very sad when I didn't see either of them out there. I miss my cycling gang.
4) Not riding 100+ miles every day is not enough to fix my ankle. At least not in ten days. Given that my next athletic endeavor is coming up in less then three months, this means: get thee to a physio ASAP girl.

The last day was, as I expected from last year, fairly anticlimactic. We crossed the line together, with big smiles on our faces. I was somewhat surprised that, after going 8 days with nary a competitive quiver in sight, I spent much of the last 15 miles thinking "I do not want that guy to finish ahead of me!" I was not the only one, but we managed to refrain from macho self-flagellation and finish together. The girls and Himself were waiting at the finish with the Wee Ridiculous Dog, and their greetings were most gratifying, if a bit slobbery in one instance. And after swearing up and down that I was never going to set foot in Okehampton again, I found myself back there on our drive back to London, watching the girls romp around the ruins of a castle. Never say never, I guess.

I'm not able at the moment to come up with a pithy phrase to sum up the entirety of the ten days that were RAB (beyond "Wet. Very wet" that is). I am very glad to have been able to do it at all, grateful that my commitments and family support and general physical health were such that I was able to do the training and travel the length of this amazing place. I'm disappointed that I didn't get to descend Cheddar Gorge in the sun. I'm thrilled to have actually made it to John O'Groats. I feel tremendous admiration for those who completed the ride with various and sundry massive challenges (one arm, on a handcycle, on an Elliptigo aiming for a world record). I don't think I need to do it again, but I do know that I don't need to be afraid to climb hills anymore. Or ride in the rain. Or spend hours and hours on my bike. Or to hurt.

86:28:53 final time.

Thanks to everyone who read along, cheered me on, and donated money to ParalympicsGB. My fundraising page will stay active until 19 September 2011, so if you come across this after the fact and feel inspired to donate, please do so.

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