Many of us have a group of cyclist friends, who we meet up with for regular sessions of group riding and ritual humiliation.
For the average ride I tend to assume that for every ten people you invite along, six will turn up (we all have lives to go to, after all).
Often, there’s one whose attendance is hit and miss, to put it mildly.
He hardly ever joins the fun – he’s got a wife and kids, a hectic job, he’s in the middle of some huge home building project, or he’s busy helping old folks across roads.
Frankly, he is far too saintly and well-rounded to have his life taken over by cycling.
Either that, or he’s hired a PR team to rigorously curate an Instagram feed of domestic and professional bliss.
But when he does join in, implausibly, he’s immediately up to speed.
Those who don’t know him well assume he’ll be off the pace and out the back – but no, there he is, respectably chugging along and holding his own in the group; never the quickest, but no slouch.
In other words, the man’s a natural.
You suspect that if he put his mind to it he could wipe the floor with all of us but he has no appetite for the petty games we play – he’s just too busy running his donkey sanctuary and rescuing orphan puppies from wells.
To take any pleasure in beating him to the random summit of a random stretch of local Tarmac seems churlish, and somehow diminishes us all, knowing that he’s barely trying.
But we celebrate none the less.
Little victories, an’ all that.
It’s possible that things aren’t quite as they seem, though.
Maybe he’s involved in a sophisticated program of stealth training, clocking up hidden mileage and then turning up to confound us all with his good form? Or perhaps he’s been ordering jiffy bags of EPO from a dodgy website and living a lie?
Or am I’m making the mistake of judging him by my own flawed standards?
Who am I kidding – the guy’s a natural.
I look forward to reading Part 3!
Thanks Bryan, part 3 will be on the way soon.
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