#IceIceBaby

I’m either focussed, or obsessed, or mix of the two: but at the end of the day I absolutely hate to let anyone down. Ever. I’ve been wracking my brains all week and with my hand on a golden heart, I can’t remember a week anything like this one.

I looked back in the archive and a year ago I was sat on a train in Preston station for two and a half hours going absolutely nowhere: the line was blocked an hour up the road. I’d been in Liverpool with my work and coupled with an icefest at the beginning of the week, it turned out to be seven days that registered just 42 miles on the Rickshaw Scale.

January ’17 registered just 485 in total: and February was worse at just 389.

Let me go off at a tangent for a minute: see the big freeze of 1963? It didn’t kick in until this very week and I remember my old man, who was something of a Villain, telling me that they’d been top six at Christmas before the wheels came off after the freeze. They played just TWO league games between Hogmanay and the 9th March and won just three of the next nineteen games after football resumed. If they hadn’t beaten Leicester and Liverpool in May, they’d have gone down. Shame…

I don’t know how January 2018 is shaping up in your neck of the woods (although my Aussie friends are telling me it’s currently 41C in Adelaide) but see at LCFN HQ, we’ve not managed 3C yet. Every day has been a repeat of the day before: baltic mercury, three layers of everything (including gloves and socks) and still it’s cold. See the people who design all this fancy bikeware that’s supposed to withstand the elements: they should come and spend three hours on LCFN in the middle of winter: it’s not a physical challenge, it’s never a physical challenge..

It’s a mental challenge: it’s like how many days in a row can you resist being smashed in the face by hail, sleet and show for three hours. Today I copped a hailstone right on my eyeball: it slipped by my glasses and whacked me a right sore one. For two hundred yards, I was struggling to see a thing as I hammered down this slush filled, single track country road.

It’s the nature of the beast.

Monday seems so long ago, I’ve almost forgotten how it was: I went to Ardrossan via a detour round the back of Kilwinning, I remember that bit: I just don’t remember when and where I got soaked. But I do remember having looked at the forecast for the week and thinking “shit, I need to get this week done early doors”. Do you know that phrase “you only had one job”? Well it fits this week to a tee…

Y’see I have this craving to smash 2017 to smithereens: I so wanted to bag 10,000 miles last year, I set my heart on it for Puddles, and it was taken from me by the weather. So I came into this year with a sense of never again: put the work in early, and keep the foot on the gas for as long as possible. That’s how momentum is gained…

And this shit weather just adds to the mix: I know that these freezing temperatures cannae go on forever, even if they did only kick in that week when I was just ten years old. I’m working on the assumption that every day that I can kick sand in the face of winter is a day nearer to when I can throws away the winter jacket (that’s full of holes from the times that I kept falling off on black ice in days gone by): the holes are held together by duct tape on the inside.

I missed 10K miles last year by just 469. Nineteen days into 2018, LCFN is just 102 miles behind the combined total for both January and February last year. Take the hit from the weather; take the pain; take the cold, even if it does take another three hours to get the feeling fully back into your feet after you climb off the bike. Draw strength from the fact that as you go to bed, knowing that tomorrow is gonna be Groundhog Day again, you know, you just know, that three hours survived today tells you that you can go through it all again tomorrow. It’s like your whole life’s on repeat. The shoes are on the radiator, drying out; the overshoes are on another radiator, drying out; all the gloves (three pairs) are on yet another radiator, drying out. And all of today’s kit’s in the tumble dryer ready for tomorrow…

The mentality is straightforward enough: never, ever allow yourself to be defeated by the weather: plan against it, plan around it, plan the route so you get blown home by it. Just never let the weather defeat you at this time of year. These are my days: these days are the closest that I will ever come to feeling the pain of wanting this to be over, knowing deep down that it probably never will be.

I went up to the shop tonight to buy blog beer. We had around three inches of snow late afternoon then the motors turned it to hard packed slush. By six o’clock, you couldn’t get into or out of the town: all roads were blocked by stricken vehicles. And tonight the mercury’s to plummet. So there will be no bike ride from LCFN HQ tomorrow: rutted ice is a recipe for disaster and broken bones…

Instead, the mountain bike will be getting loaded into the back of the big motor and taken off to the coast. I’m actually wondering if the Largs ferry to Millport will be running. I need somewhere flat, that’s been gritted, that will allow me to bag another thirty. Three laps of Cumbrae’ll deliver that. Of course getting to Largs will be no mean feat in itself. Maybe I should just dump the motor at what used to be the Magnum in Irvine and leg it down to Prestwick Airport and back. Chuck in a wee detour round the golf course at Troon and it’ll be job done.

There’s another reason that all of these 30 milers matter: 98 two hundred mile weeks. I’m sitting here tonight, surrounded by snow and black ice, twenty five miles short of a 99th. In the history of LCFN, there has never been a double hundred to rival this one. Smashed in the face by hail, sleet and snow four days in a row: favourite routes off limits (through attempted experience) because they’re just too downright dangerous. Potholes everywhere (and there’s nothing quite as dangerous as a pothole filled with water or snow). Black road today, pothole tomorrow is pretty much the way it goes: you get helluva used to looking for chucky stones scattered all over the road… danger!

And the backdrop to all of this intense difficulty is that next Thursday, it’s wee Layla’s funeral. I’m gonna go. I followed her journey, even though I was still struggling to come to terms with Puddles’ angel wings, but Layla’s mum has followed the bike ride so it’s absolutely the right thing to do. I might take the Gold bike and make sure it’s locked securely: it is after all the bond that ties all of these sad events together. Louise, Layla’s mum, has asked for lots of colour: a celebration of her wee daughter’s short life. I have plenty of colour: out on the road, my life depends on it: be seen or be wiped out is very much the way it is.

Which brings me finally to the summer, and to Australia: I need to get custom kit sorted: LCFN in Australian gold livery bearing the logo of Neuroblastoma Australia. There are no sponsors of LCFN: never have been and probably never will be. I fund everything: even this blog is close on a hundred quid a year. Too many players in too small a market, and in any case I’ve never been a marketing guy. I’m a doer, a techie, a worker ant amongst the millions of other branded ants.

Sometimes I kid myself on that this will get easier, but it never does. And this week has been extra, extra difficult: four consecutive days of hail, sleet and snow…

#IceIceBaby

Author: Von Schiehallion

I'm an old endurance athlete who's pulled a few tricks in his time. I ran my first marathon at 19 round a grass athletics track, ran/hobbled 100 miles in a day at 30, cycled from Manchester to Glasgow in a day at 40, kickstarted the Highland March at 50 and now, at 60, I'm doing LifeCycle. Life's too short to sit still for long. I like doing stuff that just seems impossible...

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s