Six hours into my 24 hour time-trial and I’ve reached that reassuring state when everything hurts. Reassuring in the sense that at this point I know it isn’t going to get any worse. But don’t think I’m exaggerating, you name a muscle and I can promise you, it hurts.
But there’s a strange synergy between pleasure and pain and I know that somehow I’ve managed to ride more than a hundred miles in that six hours and that my target of three hundred will be reached easily, even if I have to take lots of breaks to recover. It’s too early to start celebrating but I’m allowing myself a long sit down with a cup of tea and a big smug smile.
I’m happy, it’s going well. I’ve got enough miles done to slow down. I do try to slow down but being happy means being relaxed, and being relaxed means less pain, which means riding faster. What started out as daunting and scary now becomes a rather odd sort of fun. The miles rack up, I finish laps so fast I have to wake my support crew because I’m not expected yet. Smug? Oh yes.
I make my 300 mile target with three and a half hours to spare. I might as well keep on going. There’s still the club record to beat. I’m waiting for the wheels to come off, for my legs to protest that they’ve had enough, for my digestion to protest at the steady flow of sugary liquid but it never happens. At the end I’m still flying round the course. Club record beaten with an hour and half to spare. My final total – 347.508 miles is 25 miles further than anyone in my club has managed on a 24.
I’m in a pretty odd place now. I’m a record holder. I’ve never been that good at any sort of sport before. I know I’m hardly world class, the event winner was 130 miles ahead of me at the end, but I was fearing coming last. I was so far ahead of my clubmate (who, to be fair to him had digestion problems that kept him off his bike for quite a bit of the night) that he conceded defeat well before the end. Winning is something I don’t get much practice at, and I’m really struggling with the smugness. Great winners take it in their stride with humility. I could do with learning how to do that.
In the meantime I’ll just have a huge grin on my face and tell anyone who’ll listen that I rode 347.508 miles in 24 hours, which, if you hadn’t already realised, is a bloody long way!