Some people are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them; and finally there are those who dress up as the great (super) heroes of our time.
Last weekend I had the unparalleled privilege of doing a charity ride in aid of Dreams and Wishes with my wife (and I got to dress up as Deadpool as a little bonus). Dreams and wishes started in 2011 with the aim of fulfilling the dreams of seriously ill children, from games consoles and iPads to help while away the many hours spent in hospital, to family trips and meeting their sporting heroes to help make lifelong positive memories. Alongside this they also aim to provide support to for both children and their families.
I’ve had myself lined up to do this for a while, but my wife Sian (who, by her own admission, isn’t a cyclist) only gave in to increasing peer pressure 2 weeks before hand, giving her no time to prepare. She had been keen to do it but was concerned about a few of the hills and also riding on the roads. We go out cycling as a family, but we use designated traffic free routes, so contending with traffic isn’t something she has to do.
If we are all super heroes, the villain of the piece is potentially the weather. I am woken up by the sound of rain – lots of rain – pounding against the window. More of a concern is the tree bending, phone line troubling gusty wind. By the time we have sorted ourselves out and made our way to the start at Pontardulais Rugby Club the rain had ceased and the wind had begun to lull.
At 11 a band of 30 plus super heroes and the odd super villain set off on a journey for justice, otherwise known as a charity ride. As a road cyclist I spend a bit of time riding a bike on the road, and I can honestly say that if you want cars to give you more room get your mates to tag along and dress up as something. I can honestly only remember one bad pass, and they were towing a caravan – no more explanation required.
The planed route was a circular affair with three main stop points for refreshments, to regroup for photos and most importantly for Jaffa cakes. The three stops were the Parc y Scarlets (home of the Scarlets rugby union team) in Llanelli, The Wave radio station, and the Liberty Stadium (Home of Swansea City Football Club) in Swansea. There was then one final regroup/pint stop at a pub on the edge of Pontardulais before we all returned to the Rugby club in one group.
I’m not sure I can overstate how proud I am of Sian. Despite the complete lack of preparation she did incredibly well. I should probably admit to almost sabotaging her ride too. I had done a little bit of last minute adjustments to her gears – in an attempt to get the gears shifting a little smoother. Drive chain cleaned, adjusted and clean lube reapplied, but importantly I didn’t test it under load. All worked fine on the work stand, but in the real world as soon as she tied to drop onto the little ring it threw the chain off. Mechanic fired. This meant that she was left with the choice of having to stop on or just before the hill or taking on the climbs in a bigger gear. By the last two climbs this was really taking its toll, but with a little help she made it.