Over the last three years of this blog, you have been subjected to a cruel, solipsist, narcissistic view of bike races and adventures undertaken by that Ed chap. In all those long and rambling introspective and self-absorbed blogs, he always fails to give due credit to the thing that actually gets him around the race track, lap after lap. He avoids the fundamental truth around which the bike industry orbits, like a giddy planet around a burning sun:
It’s all about the bike (that’s me).
Let’s face it. I’m pretty sexy. I have a carbon mainframe, a compliant yet responsive ride quality, blinged out componentry, and am pretty much the perfect XC or endurance racing machine. I find perfect flow. I will make you a better rider.
And yet, after these races, what is my fate? While he gorges himself on yummy meals, I sit on the roof, get a cursory wash, then get chucked in the shed, only to get taken out and abused further during the week through ice, mud, and all manner of horrid concoctions.
In lieu of this, I am going to write about the Rocky Trail 7 hour at Mt Annan from my perspective.
The day began far too early, when I was hauled onto the roof of an old Subaru, and made to clash shoulders with two other bikes. A long journey through freezing, pea-soup thick fog in the darkness soon followed. Moisture settled on my spokes and froze into long, flared icicles in the pre-dawn mire. The cold ached through my bearings, gnawed at my drivetrain, and deflated my tyres.
Eventually, I arrived in sunny Sydney on a pleasant winter’s morning. I soon noticed something was severely wrong with my abusive rider, as he made frequent trips to the bathroom in the hour before the race, perhaps induced by somewhat curdled ice coffee. Perhaps, I thought, I could be in for a shorter, easier day.
The race started with all the aplomb of an all-too busy start line. Rapidly, I was mashed and crunched into big gears, twisted under poorly timed accelerations, and drifted loosely through dusty corners. An ominous sign of things to come. I was following a Cannondale Scalpel who was looking exceptionally speedy, and pushing very hard.
While its rider still occasionally gets misnamed as a cricketer, this particular cricketer-bearing bike was moving rather rapidly. This put my rider into considerable distress, which he attempted to hide via a shabby veneer of chit-chat. With all the 80s drabness of the decade he was born, this shabby veneer was soon completely exposed in all its dazzling mediocrity, and he slipped off the back.
Meanwhile, I was left to endure Mount Annan. Of steep pinches, rough fireroads, big rockgardens, tight trees, dusty corners – and a smorgasboard of chain-snapping opportunities. Under a rider riding well, this might be enjoyable. Under a rider who’s just been dropped and is mashing, flailing and making a desperate mockery of mechanical efficiency, Mt Annan was hard work.
So, ever the underappreciated slave, I got to work putting his race back together. I climbed the pinches with surprising zest for a dually. I compensated for his horrendous mistakes on the descents, and sent him rocketing out of the corners. I reminded him gently that Mt Annan can be easier if he backs off just a tiny little bit, and stops trying to go fast.
Gradually, under my coaxing influence, the race began to sway back to his favour. It was soon revealed that Callum was similarly debilitated by consuming iced coffee from the same service station. 4 hour riders began to be reeled in, and the train soon formed complete with Paris Basson.
Meanwhile, the dust of the course was taking its toll. Chains were creaking, pivots were squeaking, and riders were slowly getting layered in a black, thick deposition. The day was warming up, and gradually, the course was grinding riders and bikes alike down.
I could sense my rider’s gut problems were beginning to abate. He was lighter on the descents, and more fluent of pedal stroke. With the end of the 4 hour race in sight, he made a slight move to jump away. The move stuck, and he began to settle in for a long, solo haul instead, trying to look after me and prevent mechanicals in the tough conditions.
With a quieter track, the race soon passed quite smoothly and well. I was treated to a re-application of chain lube – a true delight! – and was soon purring away across the singletrack once more. I began to learn the lines better, and carve more smoothly through the corners. I coaxed my rider into staying on the pace, trusting my smoothness, and riding strongly to the finish. While he obliged with some bad shifts and heavy pedal strokes up the climbs, the remaining laps soon whittled by in a pleasant blur.
… but getting to the finish line, nothing changed. Though resplendently dirty and heroically strong, the cameras paid no respect to me, and instead focused on my rider, chugging a beer in another falsetto pretence of masculinity. He grabbed the microphone and made gracious gestures, but completely overlooked me.
I guess that is the fate of a race bike. To be loved in brutality, but neglected under the delusion that “it’s not about the bike”.
Although, perhaps dear Reader, on reading this post, you’ll realise what a fraudster this blogger is. He’s completely shameless in it too, and I can only hope that someone might buy one of my brothers or sisters and love them more.
I’d like to thank Onya Bike Civic for keeping me running smoothly, and Rocky Trail Entertainment and the Mt Annan Botanic Gardens for letting me play in the sun!