Natty merino merchants Rapha have taken it upon themselves to encourage us roadies to get out on our bikes over the Christmas period and log some serious miles. The Festive 500 is a challenge, and a not inconsiderable one – cover 500km between the 23rd and 30th of this month.
With the weather forecast showing little sign of anything other than freezing conditions, snow and sleet I am not terribly confident about covering the distance. Particularly as my mountain bikes are both out of action, and so a backup plan of riding up and down the South Downs Way would appear to be out of the question.
However, I am prepared to brave the elements to some degree, and will give the challenge my best shot.
Motivation is paramount when such endeavours are concerned. As with the 100 Hours of Turbo Challenge, I thought this wintry escapade also deserved some impassioned prose. As such, I have again modified and muddled up a far greater poem for your amusement. Stick it on the fridge, on the inside of your front door. Or even on your bars in place of Pamela Anderson. And enjoy…
Cold cruel roads of Winter
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
And shut that door, lest Queen cries shrill about the draught.
On rest days there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of wind blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the Badger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect.
Don the armour of the road,
That magick darkened eyeglass to defend ‘gainst Rain and Sun,
Padded codpiece set in stretch’ed Hose of Lycra,
Hat of Rapha, Ruff of Silk, and Softshell Cloak upon the shoulder.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the ‘drops and put the power down
Through gaily coloured Speedplays. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is (mostly) free from physick potions!
Assuming thou hast refused strange meat from foreign lands,
Dishonour not your butcher; now attest
Your wattage, fueled by well-brew’d tea and lemon drizzle cake;
Good cause to conquer men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good Roadmen,
Whose limbs were forged on English lanes, show us here
Your mettle, and the metal of your steed; let us swear
That you are worth your training; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like good Sir Chris upon the track,
Straining upon the start. The ride’s away:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’