Richard, Geoffrey and John are locked in the dungeon and Henry is coming down to execute them:
Prince Richard: He’s here. He’ll get no satisfaction out of me. He isn’t going to see me beg.
Prince Geoffrey: My you chivalric fool… as if the way one fell down mattered.
Prince Richard: When the fall is all there is, it matters.
To be a cyclist means giving up an element of control. Whether it’s relying on other traffic, experiencing hazards along the way, trusting the person in front, or simply sitting stationary with a cleated shoe attached to a pedal, there is an element of risk involved. Improved bike handling skills and general awareness can reduce the risk, but it’ll never be eliminated.
As with life in general, bad things happen. The most important thing is how you deal with them, and how you bounce back.
Over the four days of the Euro City Cycle there have been a number of incidents. Fortunately none of them were too serious. No serious damaged was caused other than a little bit of hurt pride.
With many of the incidents, the comedy factor was high: Irrespective of fault, Guides going down is always hysterical, like a Referee falling in front of a large crowd, you just have to laugh (quietly, of course!). Momentary lapses of sanity are also worth a giggle, a man hanging from a lamp-post unable to extricate himself from his pedals for example, or user-induced brake failure resulting in a tumble down an embankment.
Despite these occasional incidents, over the course of the trip people’s confidence visibly grew. With a little encouragement and practice, everyone became more comfortable, cycled a bit faster, a bit closer together, we slowly developed to become part of a team. I’m not saying we got there, but we got better.
For a few seconds on the final afternoon we almost managed to draft, cycling in formation into a head wind, the lead rotated to share the effort as we pushed to maintain a steady pace. For a few seconds, we almost managed it. It felt good!
Despite having to battle the elements once again, we all made it from Breda to Brussels. If I had been in Scotland I would have described the weather as dreich (“Low End” also works). The persistent rain and low temperatures made the going tough. Dampness got everywhere causing electrical equipment to fail left right and centre. However, we fought through and made it.
It’s been a pleasure to share this experience with the 20 other participants. I’m sure everyone felt some emotion as they approached the finish line; a sense of accomplishment or satisfaction. It wasn’t the hardest cycling ever, but there were definitely moments when everyone will have had to dig deep, calling on hidden reserves of energy and endurance to see the journey through.
For me, the overwhelming feeling as we crested the final hill and rolled towards the Atomium in Brussels was relief. My journey didn’t start in Brentwood, it started in a hospital bed last June. I’ve cycled just under 300 miles in the past four days, but over 3,000 miles preceded them as I worked to get myself fit and strong again. There was a “Finish” sign next to the Atomium, but my journey is far from over.
Along the way, we’ve managed to raise just under £3,000 for the British Heart Foundation. Thanks to everyone who has donated and for all your support over the past few days!
(Incidentally, it’s still not too late if you’ve been meaning to contribute: Click here)