|Newsletter - 2008 Archive|
The Lesser of
There's a roots band called The Fugitives
who have a song called 'Humanity
is Awesome'. It's a song that celebrates all of humanity's
amazing achievements including such things as the plays of William
Shakespeare, the pyramids of Egypt, the symphonic form, antibiotics,
computer chips, and landing on the moon. When you think about
it, we're really quite an incredible species, at least compared
to, say, cats. For all our astounding accomplishments, however,
humanity can also be quite stupid. After all, we're the ones
that came up with war, the automobile, the fashion industry,
and country music - so we can't be all that smart. As for me
and my attempt at completing the LM 600 this year, suffice to
say that my cat is more likely to find a cure for the common
cold that I am.
Now, I'm not going to go into a detailed explanation of how it happened that my rain booties ended up on the floor of my hall closet and not tucked neatly inside of my Carradice rain cape where they normally live when they're not being worn nor drying out. There is no explanation for this anomaly. I simply do no know how it happened, and any attempt at an explanation or excuse would be a lie of sorts. Although telling lies can be quite fun at times, in this case truth is stranger than fiction so I'll let the truth stand. What I can say with certainty is that I was 99% prepared for the ride, but the 1% that was missing was what botched the whole thing for me.
Over the course of the previous week, I had spent a couple hours studying the route and noted that there were stretches of 90 to 100 km between most controls, so I decided to mount a third water bottle on the bike to minimize stops; I had bought an assortment of different energy bars and dried fruits so that I would always have something to munch on that would give me energy while the variety would keep my palate from getting bored; I had calculated the most likely time I would arrive at each control and estimated how long a break I could take before continuing so that I would make the overnight control in Merritt in enough time to catch a sufficient sleep; I even made a reservation at the Copper Valley Motel to ensure myself of a refreshing hot bath and a bed. In the end, it was all for nothing.
The brevet started quite normally: a motley
bunch of cyclists wearing all manner of crazily coloured, unfashionable
garb on bikes outfitted with a remarkable array of saddlebags,
fenders, pumps, and whatnot's, departed from Boundary and Broadway
shortly after an hour at which most people momentarily wake,
realize it's Saturday, and then go back to sleep for three more
hours. As we pulled out from the start, I made a few wisecracks
at Alard, said good morning to Manfred, and then asked Karen
where I might find the domestique because I could use a latté.
So, there I was having completed just 8
km of a 600 km ride, and already faced with a Serious Dilemma:
either carry on with inevitably soaking wet feet or pack it in.
Now, I could have continued and made it to Hope in the early
afternoon at which point I could have stopped at the bike shop
there and bought a pair of booties. Since, however, my feet would
have been soaking wet by that point, I would also have had to
buy a new pair of shoes and socks which meant not only riding
the subsequent 450 km in a pair of brand new shoes, risking blisters,
etc., but also packing the wet shoes and socks all the way at
least to Merritt, thus adding a couple more pounds of weight
to an already loaded bike on which I was trying to make good
A few hours later, I rose, got dressed and went to the racetrack to watch the Belmont Stakes. An undefeated horse named Big Brown was attempting to become the first Triple Crown winner in thirty years. As the race began, he came out of the gate from the rail position in a rather fractious state, appeared hard to rein in on the first turn, but eventually moved outside and settled down in third position while pressing the pace three-wide. On the stretch turn, the jockey asked Big Brown to run harder anticipating that he'd go for the lead, but the horse gave no response. The jockey continued to urge him, but the colt just wasn't interested. As the field approached the head of the stretch, Big Brown slowed down indifferently, and the jockey pulled up on the reins and quit. The ride was officially list as 'DNF' - Did Not Finish.
Big Brown and me: we both had a DNF on the same day when ever so much more was anticipated and for no good reason. It's about the only thing we have in common. That is, unlike my four-legged equine counterpart, subsequent to my DNF I will not be retired to stud at $1 million a pop (if you'll pardon the expression.) Rather, I'll be angling for completion of a summer series including the 600 in late August.
Humanity is awesome.
June 10, 2008