Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Windy Bank Challenge!!

The Windy Bank Challenge
by Mark Oldroyd

The day dawned, the skies were clear, the temperatures high for the summer gone, the atmosphere was heavy or was it the burden of expectation?

The competitors took their journey to work, some by car-resting, some by bike-loosening up? The previous days of bravado had given way to quiet contemplation and that the voice of confidence was now a whimper, even the excuses of feeling tired, my legs are heavy started to flow from the vocal chords from where boisterous confidence had once spewed.

Marketing the event!
The riders gathered outside, lycra clad, muscles flexing, photos taken, competitors eye balled – had London 2012 started early? Martin was the unknown, the dark horse, Tony had once been the confident race horse, Rob looked like the shire horse, Mark and Big un stood quietly, contemplating, two feeding horses, but who would be the stallion and who would be the donkey? It wasn’t long now.

Mark O 
Big Un
Spankles (Due to his very skinny sparrow ankles)
We rode down the hill, slowly, towards the start, we gathered outside the service centre entrance – was this really a hill to cycle or a mountain to climb? The warmest day of the year would sort the climbers from the sprinters, only the strong would survive. The motorcade of officials and supporters went past, to take positions at various vantage points – were they the smiles of encouragement from behind the tinted glass? Were they chuff, Lynne D and Kim R were laughing there … off !!

The gun, Oldroyd stormed off, those powerful thighs propelling him into an early lead, but after 8 yards Gregory and Craddock-road bike between thighs, stormed past !! Big un and Martin still behind, the road rose, steeply, the race was on. Or was it, a loud shout of “oh my bl…y gears” was heard behind Oldroyd – an excuse? A mechanical incident? We were to find out later, but of whom? Craddock was moving upto Gregory, would he pass, well yes, despite some underhand tactics by Gregory, the spankles defied their pointless existence and took Craddock into the lead, Gregory was puffing, Oldroyd was steady – but where was Martin and Big Un?

The second steep section was decisive, Craddock pulled away-spankles have no weight to carry, Gregory puffed-the shire horse’s stamina was telling, Oldroyd was in hot pursuit-would he catch? No, the road eased, and Gregory pulled away, Oldroyd was beat. Big Un and the dark horse, who had had the problem at the start??

Half way now, Craddock was in an unassailable lead, Oldroyd had got close, but not close enough, his only consolation would be to look good as he went past the posse of glamour that lined the course !!

Big Un, Martin???

Tony Craddock

Robert Gregory
Mark O
Big Un
Tony won, resoundingly, Gregory a strong second, Oldroyd had tried, but failed, the years of polishing off every cake, left over sandwich, pork pie or scrap of salad had taken its toll on his speed and he rolled in third. Who would be forth? Who would be the Donkey? Who would be immortalised with the likes of Eric the Eel and Eddie the Eagle as laughable participants? We looked down the hill, a head appeared, slowly but methodically, Big Un was approaching, the cheers went out, slow, maybe, but he wouldn’t be defeated, he pushed on and rolled in fourth.

So the dark horse, where was he? We looked, we talked, the victory ceremony took place, the supporters drifted away, the sun began to set, where was he? We could wait no longer, we departed, sport can be harsh. Could we sleep without knowing he was safe – you bet we could, we were knackered !The next day all became clear, a mechanical problem had caused him to lose his chain at the very bottom or was it an excuse – only Martin knows !!!

The race winner may have been Craddock, but in such severe conditions and steep gradient, all participants were winners, and while the result could have been predicted everyone who took part shares the glory, and while the Official Olympic motto is “Citius, Altius, Fortius”  – “Faster, Higher, Stronger”, the more well known phrase of De Coubertin is surely more appropriate, “The most important thing is not to win but to take part” .

Tony Craddock - The winner!!
Well done to all participants and thanks to those who came for a glimpse of pain, agony and glory

Mark O - Dying.
Big Un - Still standing!!!

Well done boys!! What is the next challenge then?

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