Daily Archives: January 27, 2012

The Beast Inside

I was heading along to work the other morning, turning the pedals and absently-mindedly musing on events of the day when it happened.  I was passed by another cyclist.  Now this cyclist was not new to me.  A couple of weeks ago I passed him, with a casual good morning and headed on my way.  Clearly, I was significantly faster than he was, but hey that’s OK, nobody’s racing, right?  Anyway, several miles down the road, the chap was out of my mind and I continued in much the same manner as I had for the whole of this steady as she goes ride.  Turning slightly to the side I noticed that my friend had indeed put his foot on the gas and was pretty close behind me.  Clearly, I had spurred him on his way.  As it happened, I turned off just at this point and continued on the long, dark, lonely (but always enjoyable on the bike) road to work.

Last week I again saw a cyclist ahead of me and quickly reeled him in without any great effort.  Another “morning” and I noticed it was my buddy again.  This time I wondered what would happen as I passed him.  For him to stay with me he would have to seriously up his game, in a biting wind.  I ventured on, battling through the wind and generally feeling dog-tired and several miles down the road it happened – he went past me.  At this point that little inner voice said “on him”.  I gave it a wee push, but it just wasn’t my day and Joey (as we shall call him for no good reason other than it is the first name that comes to mind) was clearly motivated – “you shall not pass” was almost stamped on the back of his helmet as his legs whirred around on the pedals.  I rallied somewhat but never quite latched onto Joey and turned off to ponder the events of the day.  When I am behind Joey, he plods along in a carefree manner.  When I am ahead, he is Lance Armstrong.  The inner beast is unleashed.

And so to the other day.  Previously, I had cycled to work and then ran 4 brisk miles in the evening.  I expected to be tired on the bike in the morning, but felt pretty good.  And then Joey passed.  I hadn’t been thinking of him.  Generally, he only seems to be out once a week, but here he was just a couple of days after our last contretemps.  Again, who was the demon on a saddle, cranking the pedals as fast as he could?  Well, frankly it was me.  Before the brain has time to think, the body is saying “not today my friend.  Today you are mine”.  I relished clamping onto his wheel and felt him accelerating, but he wasn’t losing me today, oh no.  After a bit his tempo dropped a little and I sat there contentedly, letting Joey do the work but letting him know, “I’m here and I’m staying – and you can’t do anything about it”.

Joey had of course made one big mistake – he didn’t say hello as he passed me – a big no-no in my book.  Maybe he didn’t want to upset me as he whooshed past, or maybe he hoped to surprise me and get the jump on me.  Who knows.

The whole point is, all around me on the LEJOG team I see people who tell me they are not competitive, they only ride for fun, yet can often be seen with the veins jumping out of their necks as they turn their heads to see if they will indeed finish ahead of rider X up the Crow road.  Or they regale us with tales of the day they beat Gio back to the Egasa clubhouse (a year ago now, but the story is still often told).  Or the big laid back chap who’s doing more running than cycling just now – “just for fun”.  However, he’ll tell you his splits are 7.11 min/per mile, and you can see in his eyes that he’s disappointed they’re not 7.09.

It’s all just a game, and all just for fun.  But inside each of the LEJOG crew, and I reckon inside every cyclist, the beast lurks.  And the beast is competitive.

I’ll see you next week, Joey.  Bring your A game.  Not that I’ll be racing mind you.  It’s just for the joy of being on the bike……..