My mood gradually lightened as the bus neared the top of the mountain and as I began to put things in perspective. So much so that I was able to take a selfie at the top of the mountain that had punished us so. I later found out that one of our friends had to be given emergency medical treatment at the finish as his blood sugar levels were dangerously low. So low in fact, that he should have gone into shock. A narrow escape for him.
Technically I failed. There is no question about it. I did not cross the finish line with my bike and I was not classified as a finisher by the organizers (even though I got a finishers medal). But by no accounts should I consider this a ‘failure’ considering where I was coming from, and the fact that just a few years ago, almost to the month, I was in intensive care after ‘flat-lining’ on the operating table after a serious motorbike accident.
I spent months in hospital and it took me months to be able to walk properly and I have been in physical rehabilitation of some sort since. If you had told me then that I’d riding my bicycle less than a year later, I’d have called you a liar. If you told me then that I’d be taken part in such a sporting event, riding a stage of The Tour De France no less, I’d have signed the section papers without hesitation. I’d have thought you had gone mad.
The famous mountaineer, Sir Edmund Hillary (the first person to climb mount Everest. I’m currently fascinated by the strength and fortitude of those early mountain men) said: “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”
Technically I failed, but in that failure I conquered myself. I pushed myself way beyond what I thought I was capable of, pushed to my absolute physical and mental limits. I came from the dark days of that intensive care unit 4 years ago to this.
I can live with such failures.
* Stage 18 of the Tour de France was won by the Frenchman Warren Barguil riding for the Sunweb team in a time of 4:40:33, more than 30 minutes faster than the fastest Etape rider, Norwegian Jonas Abrahamsen, who completed the course in a time of 5 hrs 15 minutes, despite racing for over 2 weeks before tackling this stage. Needless to say, my respect for Grand Tour riders, and professional cyclists in general has increased exponentially. They truly are not from the same planet as the rest of us.
Truly, they are aliens.
Bike: 2015 Colnago C60
Wheelset: Enve SES 4.5 Custom build. Chris Kings R45 Hubs
Groupset: Shimano Dura Ace DI2. Compact chainset\11-32 Cassette.
3T Finishing kit. 3T Aeronova carbon bars. Lizard skin tape.
Quarq D-Zero Power Meter with carbon cranks. Look Titanium Pedals
Edge 1000 Performance bundle
Lake CX-402 Carbon mouldable shoes