Wellington isn’t renown for its great summers; a mate is always quick to remind me that if the weather was perfect all the time, everyone would want to live here and we’d be overrun by Aucklanders (just like Aussies but not quite dumb enough to live in Canberra). As our summer goes into its last death throes of amazingly calm, sunny, cloudless days, the arm warmers and undershirt have only just emerged from their longest hibernation ever. And I probably won’t need them for tomorrow’s ride either.
Come next Monday, however, I’ll be on the other side of the world and months of unzipped jerseys and SPF30 will be but a memory; a cold, wet, distant memory. And I have to say I’m almost looking forward to it with a strange enthusiasm and a hint of romanticism. Almost. No amount of fitness gleaned from training in perfect weather can prepare one for the rigours of a Belgian spring.
We know how the body will react when it is pulled from its warm cocoon and plunged into an icy bath. How the mind will handle it is a bigger concern. We can prepare ourselves physically to the nth degree, but if we’re mentally inept then the sag wagon becomes a likely option. At which point something deep inside takes over, thought processes return to normal and the mere thought of getting off the bike is quickly and methodically banished. Not here, not now.
Let the hardmen be hardmen, let it rain and blow and the cobbles turn to mud when they grace these roads. But Merckx have mercy on a fair-weather soul, even if only for a few selected days. Let our Flandrian Best suffice and our tubulars have sure grip on dry stones. Failing that, at least keep us upright and we will drink a toast to you night after night.
Bring it on.