It was that time again. Indeed, it seemed to come round a whole lot sooner than it ought to have done. And, there it was. The North staring me right in the eyes and egging me on.
Yet again, The North was to be found in the depths of an unsanitised mess of filth and foliage in Prestwich – http://www.hitthenorth.net
I’d managed to avoid incurring the wrath of The North by diverting my gaze and pretending I wasn’t going to be that bothered about where I finished, so long as this time I finished. There has always been a draw about a race, an event, no, a neo-insitution so close to home, and yet my experiences have been, at best, varied. And mainly unpleasant and unpleasureable.
This time was going to be different. Obviously, or why would I have decided to enlist a 30 year old road bike badly converted into a singlespeed cross bike with a 54 inch gear? Somehow, the inevitable and simultaneous collapse of legs and lungs would excuse the sort of achievement I secretly dream of. The reason, in many ways, why I don’t race more – I hate to be disappointed with my mediocrity.
The foil to success:
But this was not enough to encourage me to stay away, to stand clear of The North’s filthy temper and phlegm of flowing, slurried death-stinking mud. Sign on duly completed, it seemed perverse to bother with a warm up and, when presented with The Field and The Hill, it seemed only sensible to return to the comfort of a swift zip on some tarmac and a chat with long lost comrades.
There is little worth saying about the detail of the race itself. One gear was no use on the flat, hard uphill and unrequired on the downhills, where the brakes only enhanced the speed and terror of the mud-slide descents. A chat here and there with marshalls, and self surprise at what could be ridden faster than billion-geared stormtroopers with their backpacks, lightsabres and invivible-ink head to toe black.
Not every climb could be ridden, so onto foot and the seizure of long abused back muscles. What the hell. But lots was ridden and occasionally I looked like I knew what I was doing. The camera knows how to lie:
But, the proof, as always, in whether you’d eat that that restaurant again. And, in spite of the surefire risk of dystentry from mud so thick and stagnant, and a near universal unwillingness to avoid any of it. Yeah, I’ll be back. Probably on the same unsuitable iron, with the same shit-eating grin from having a wholelottafun in a filthy park in north Manchester.
You better watch out, The North. Stand still too long and I might just hit you back.