Every few weeks I spend a week at university learning stuff, and the one lecturer whose lectures are never a chore is Peter. He’s a Polish guy with a dry sense of humour, he’s a serious cyclist in his spare time and I’ve spotted him riding round campus on an old steel Raleigh. One thing that marks this Raleigh out (and I had a good nose around) is that it has SunTour power shifters on an otherwise Sachs Huret equipped bike – a classy touch. Anyway, I thought of one of Peter’s lectures earlier.
So, I’ve taken the plunge and signed up for Eroica Britannia. It is crazy expensive (me riding, my fiancée watching and my car parking is costing over £100) but I know I’ve just got to do it. My old B.S.A. needs to mix it with those Campagnolo-festooned Colnagos and Pinarellos that everyone with only a shallow understanding raves about. No-one in their right minds chucks high-end stuff away, so in a funny way 34 years later it’s the low end stuff that becomes rarer. In the same way, some of the rarest cars on Britain’s roads now aren’t Jaguar E-types, they’re mid-1980s Vauxhalls. Who would ride Eroica on a beat up old Raleigh cast-off? Well me I guess.
When I came to select my route, I thought of Peter. There’s a 25 mile route, a 55 mile route, and a 100 mile route. I know I’m not up to riding 100 miles, so that was simple. I know I can ride 25 miles, because I’ve done close to it half a dozen times now, including in July’s sportive. There’s nothing heroic in riding a distance I know I’m easily capable of. 55 miles sounds like too much though.
However, there was a part of one of Peter’s lectures where he was talking about setting a “BHAG” for reducing assembly time (he teaches us Design for Manufacture and Assembly) which he explained stood for “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”, and which he illustrated with this little chap:
As this came to mind a little smile played over my face. Here we are, this is my Big Hairy Audacious Goal for 2017. I’m going to do a 55 mile ride in June. As I write this it seems barely possible, but it’s too late. I’m signed up and I’ll just have to manage. I felt much the same about the sportive last July and in the end I found it probably a little easier than I was expecting, so that gives me a little hope.
One day, perhaps, I’ll be fit enough and brave enough to do the full century…