There appears to be a trend for ‘suffering’ at the moment. Pick up a cycling magazine, and you are very likely to find pictures of cyclists inflicting pain upon themselves. You can find faces grimacing as they battle the elements, or images of cyclists out of the saddle, seemingly oblivious to a camera focusing on their teeth, gritted with determination, as they fight to reach a summit.
There are many post-ride images of exhausted sweaty faces, tired legs, muddy shoes, and sometimes patched -up limbs, shot in moody black and white, that suggests some romance in the pain.
Names also suggest that a cyclist’s destiny is to endure agony. Take the popular indoor-cycling app. it’s called ‘Sufferfest’ and declares ‘Our app provides the software and the enterPAINment to keep you focused, working hard and seeing gains indoors’.
Earlier this month, the Mechanic did a sportive called “The Hell of the North”. The ride was billed as ‘a blistering tribute to the Paris-Roubaix – 100km of potholes, mud, and some of Hertfordshire’s meanest gravé*. Mr M signed up immediately, seemingly looking forward to his morning of torture.
He returned home after the event, he was hungry, tired and dirty, and had a few stinging nettle grazes. An audit of his bare legs, were also testament to the dusty terrain he had covered, there was a distinct change of colour where his socks had been – I believe its called a Belgian tan. He had survived ‘The Hell of North’ and by all accounts had a marvellous time. The weather had been great, the route challenging, he’d been fed delicious flapjacks on the way, and at the finish, ate chips and drank (a beer) whilst he watched the Paris – Roubaix.
It seems to me that sometimes its good fun to suffer, if you survive, the reward is greater.
- (an area of) farm track/road/footpath/bridleway etc. which consists of potholes, loose paving, stones, rubble, and mud.
Image of Mr M. the Mechanic courtesy of Rapha.