It’s the ride you’ll do the most. The hardest ride you’ll ever do, too. You’ll do it so often that it should be easy, but it never is. Its frequency is such that it really should morph into all the other rides of its ilk, therefore negating the actual nexus of this necessary, evil ride. But it never does, it’s always stuck out there on its own, no matter what the duration between it and the next one is, could be months, could be only a week, but it’ll never leave, like that mate who stays for a couple of nights yet really should be paying rent after the first month, or at least offering a 20 for some food. This is the modus operandi of the First Ride Back.
As you get older, the FRB becomes more regular, unlike yourself. Jesus, my latest FRB really shouldn’t have qualified for its status at all, but such is the fickle nature of fitness at an ‘advanced’ age that just six days off the bike is enough to send one into panic, that the hard earned fitness is somehow leaving the body at a rate many times faster than it was acquired. Even with a pretty solid few months of riding under the belt, the effects of six days off, caused by an errant finger meeting a spinning disc rotor, sounded a death knell to me. A couple of opportunities came and went, adding to the mental mire as well as the (mainly perceived) physical one. Jumping back into the Tuesday night jaunt brought the daunt. Begging for hostilities to secede always falls on deaf ears, and plea bargaining for no hills is as well received as a stripper at Sunday school.
I recall reading an article by recently retired Baden Cooke some years ago where he spoke of his own FRB, an annual rather than weekly or monthly occurrence for him. Unlike mere mortals, he would no doubt have a pretty good base to draw upon, and even after a month or two off the bike (and probably partying hard as Cookie was known to do), he would still have the kind of condition most of us could only dream of. Yet he suffered the same mental and physical barriers as a normal rider does, but with a distinctly different approach, namely a 300km ‘hell ride’ from which he’d return some seven hours later with a sense that his season was now ready to start. A 50km jaunt with a couple of efforts thrown in seems almost laughable by comparison, but mirth never seems to enter the equation until the bike is racked and the celebratory beer is poured.
By the conclusion of the FRB, everything always seems much better, no matter how badly you’ve suffered, how far out the ass you were, what portion of your lungs you’ve coughed up. Just when you think you could take no more, the surVival instincts kick in and wring one, two, three last droplets of the Essence of V from within, and gives pride a swift kick up the ass for good measure. The next day you are renewed, and can’t wait to do it again.
Just not any longer than a week away, ok?