Monday, 1 October 2012

Just when you think you might be dying ...

You find out that you're not. It happens a bit like this. You're in a bike race, and it's a hot-ish day - a cyclocross race on a hot-ish day, in September. It's about 28'C - maybe 29'C. You think that you've had enough to drink. You've been peeing clear this morning, so you think you're okay. You're worried and nervous about the race, but that's normal for you. It's a problem to be sure, but it's something you usually can manage. So the race starts and, since you've started farther back it takes you a while to get going, which isn't all bad. As you get going you start to pass a few folks and you're moving well, until you take a rising corner a bit awkwardly (the story of your life) and you flop over. You shift-lever is bent over so you hammer it back into position, and you're seat is sideways, so you bang it back too. By the time you're back on the bike, the people you passed have passed you again.

This is discouraging. Silly you. You let it get to you. You start to over think things. You get frustrated. Yet again however, you work to make up the lost ground. It's getting hard now. You're on the third lap, and you're wondering if you have enough in you to do the two more you're certain you're going to need to do to finish. Your body is telling you something, but your brain is saying, or trying to say, No, it's not going to be that way. We're going to keep going. Which you do. At some point on this third lap, you pass a guy with a camera taking pictures. This is likely the one he took of you at that point when the battle between your brain and your body was, shall we say, heating up:

You were not fully heated at this time, though indeed the time was near. By the end of the third lap, and into the fourth you're looking for a miracle to stay in, and you mean the sort of miracle in which the skies open and the angels harmonize a la the flying circus and the people cheer yeeeeaaaaaa. You stumble and pedal and run -ish and ride and gasp up and over and down and around and then ... nothing. For some interval of time there's nothing, and then your eyes open and there's this voice of Tom (oh thank you Tom) coming from somewhere. And you remember Tom from Spring rides and what he did for guys who wrecked themselves on that fine weekend, and you think, oh good it's Tom, but why now? And why am I looking at the sky? And why can't I breathe? And then why am I breathing so fast? And then why can't I puke? I really want to puke, but I can't? I try and try, but yet another failure. You hear people talking, there's water splashing on you, which feels nice. You're told to breathe deep and slow. You get the sense that you're at a bike race, but that somehow you've missed things. Something. Was it the end? 

There's not too much more to tell. Tom tells you it's heat exhaustion. He says that if it was heat stroke you'd be in worse shape. Which sounds pretty bad to you right then. And pretty good too. Tom keeps pouring water on you and giving you water to drink. You get a piece of banana to try (which works) from C. who eventually wins the next race, and then G. brings you a chocolate milk, which causes you to attempt to stand. It's taken you more than half an hour to get from angels singing and Tom talking, to standing on your own. It is a kind of miracle, you suppose, but not the kind you're much interested in revisiting. 

When you learn the next day that you made the front page of the WFP you feel like a bit of a cheat. It's a consolation prize of some kind, but that one picture is not worth the thousand words it's printed on. That one picture is a bit of a falsie. 'Cause that rider isn't going to make it. Sunny cyclocross indeed!

Lord save me from my unbelief.


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