Saturday, 27 December 2008

A frosty training ride

A training ride in the hills with the sun slowly disappearing. Hopefully we'll finish each stage of the Transalp before the sun goes down!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Gotta start somewhere.

A pre-Christmas ride, the official start of Transalp 2009 training. I'm just getting over the cold and Dave's on antibiotics.

We're in tip-top condition.

I drive down to Dave's house and spend a valuable half hour of precious daylight admiring his shed. The plan is to ride from his house to Megget Reservoir and back via Dollar Law and the Thieves Road. The wind is almost blowing us to a standstill on the road up the glen, but we find shelter on the ascent. It's pretty steep and there's not much chance to rest, but it's all rideable despite 4 weeks off the bike. Well OK, I walked some of it. Dave did too, I imagine.

We exercise mountaineering judgement at a gate where we stop to look at the map and have a ham sandwich. Even though we're sheltered now, it'll be savagely windy over the tops so we take a traversing line onto the homebound trail, missing out the descent to Megget. Soon we're on the tops. It's savagely windy.

A wee bit of navigating and some more pushing and we finally get to a descent. Dave disappears into the gloom and I pick my way down as if I'd only learned to ride a bike for the first time last week. "Yeah, those German boys'll fly past us on the uphills, but we'll cane them on the downhills. Pussies!", I'd asserted confidently earlier.

The Thieves Road has a lot of ups and downs over jarring terrain and I'm having to dig deep to find the joy. We stop for bananas but it's too cold to hang around in the wind. Eventually we reach the trig point on Pykestone Hill and it's all downhill. Dave's looking cold. He's still faster than me. My front tyre erupts sealant and goes flat. I can't feel my feet.

We get to a fence and cross into the trees and out of the wind. Dave's got the hot aches and runs off to cry while I make an arse of fixing my front tyre which goes flat again within 5 minutes as we speed down the fireroad to the valley floor and warmth and soup. If the weather is really cold and it blows a hooley for the eight days of the race, Dave and I will win. FACT.

My bike feels strange.

Monday, 22 December 2008

"alea iacta est"

Wednesday afternoon following, I'm driving home from work to get to the bank.

Radio Scotland headline: "Pound hits record low against the Euro."

I get to the bank in plenty time to transfer a good portion of my savings to a German bank account. In Euros.

Miraculously, the entry was expedited through the frenzy of over-subscription and we got the "Congratulations!" email, rather than the "Sorry!" one I'd been expecting.

So team Dunracin' will line up on the starting grid in Mittenwald on 18 July. We've crossed the Rubicon. (Well, we can uncross it if we want, but that's not really the point).

Can it really be that time already?

Fast forward to Saturday 6th December 2008.

I'm at a party with another drink in my hand. A text arrives from Dave. "Transalp entry online tomorrow 12 noon."

Cunningly, I realise that it'll be 12 noon Euro time, so 11am UK time. Even more cunningly, I tell Dave this. That way I'll be absolved of all blame if (when) our entry is knocked back for being too tardy because it'll look like I really was keen. Next morning I'm logged in to the Transalp site, ready to go through the motions. Pressing F5 over and over is having no effect even though the fateful hour has been and gone. I'm in the wrong window.

Then it's there. LIVE! ENTER NOW! NOW!!!!

This is where meticulous preparation pays off. I don't know Dave's address. His phone numbers are on my mobile. He's not answering his mobile. When was he born? Same age as me. Had his 40th in September. OK - make up an address. No-one will ever know. They'll not check, will they? They are German...

The entry form is a pain in the arse. It isn't clear which fields are mandatory. Why do they need to know which make of bikes we'll be riding, FFS! They are German.

After a good 10 minutes of faffing around and not really paying attention I manage to clear all the client-side script hurdles and our entry is away into a dizzying realm of packets, routers, DNS and probable rejection, lodging itself in 6000th place on a list where only the first 450 are welcome.

In lieu of proper training...

...set up a blog.

Around about 18 months ago Dave was badgering me to do the Transalp with him. Fortunately, I had an excuse - school trip to India in the summer, me organising, can't back out now, kids depending on me, blah, blah, blah...

He looked askance at me. "I'm talking about 2009".

"Oh, OK. Errr... yeah. Yeah, let's do it. No really - let's DO it!"

We'd been drinking. He'd forget.