Walking Away From the Mountain

Yellow: Be aware. Severe weather is possible over the next few days and could affect you. Yellow means that you should plan ahead thinking about possible travel delays, or the disruption of your day to day activities.

The Tour was my training focus for the last few months, the usual planning and preparations had been made and with training going well I was hopeful of a clean run come race day.

This would be my third run of the TBN, The first year I wasn’t the best prepared training or skills wise, but the two punctures were what slowed me down most. The second attempt I was mechanical free and feeling fit but my day was plagued with cramps that forced me to my knees. This time my goal was a clean run, the best run I could make, the third run would be the charm.

We left the morning before the race, leaving a Deeside that had been enjoying a prolonged period of dry weather. But traveling west the skies steadily built in density, the predicted storms seemed to be coming to fruition. Things didn’t improve once we had found and settled into the chalet as the rain started to lash across the windows. The wee man was delighted with the digs and was totally unfussed by this adventure or the weather. The sky continued to darken long before its time.

Whilst I stretched off that night and during the bike’s final going-over, the wind rattled and battered the chalet. I had drawn the curtains as much as a way to deny the weather as to keep the heat in. But I knew the following day was in question.

Racing and to some extent riding your bike is a singularly selfish pursuit, for what ever reasons we ride, ultimately we ride for ourselves. It takes us away from family, it makes us sacrifice time, energy and all too frequently, finances. It pushes us to try to better our fitness and skills, challenging us to push harder, but that can come at a cost. Sometimes the ride is not worth the potential cost.

Dawn barely broke the morning of the race and the sound of the wind had not eased. The minor miracle I had been vainly hoping for had not surfaced and the weather had not broken. I stepped outside to make an assessment and come to peace with the decision I knew was already made, a decision I had hoped the race organisers would make for me. I  looked down towards the north face of Nevis and across towards Aonoch Mor. I could see hints of mountain through razor thin breaks in the fast moving cloud, curtains of rain washed across the view and my face. I knew today wasn’t going to be a race for me. It would be too great a fall with the chances of the fall getting greater the higher I climbed on the course.

I had come to see the mountain, nodded my appreciation and the mountain was unmoved, stoic in its cloud bound vigil over the loch and all below. The race went ahead, what else could the organisers do, the route curtailed into a out and back sortie. From all accounts it was a grim affair with large portions of the course wallowing in standing and flowing water.

I will no doubt be back, this race has yet to get out of my system, I will never know if this year was the year were I was ready, luck had other ideas. I guess no race is the perfect race, there will always be mistakes made or opportunities that go uncapitalised. Ultimately all you are left with (and the reason why we do it) are the feelings and the experiences, to come down from the hill with a head full of magic and a story to tell.

There will always be other races and other stories to tell.


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I am an artist living and working in Aberdeen, I ride bikes and like to write about it sometimes.

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