well children, I know that I'm not a frequent poster, but I said I'd write an account of the Transwales, and here it is. And it was, from the very start, the single most challenging event that I have ever undertaken. It was obvious from the beginning that the nearest I'd ever get to the nightly podium was a mud encrusted trudge past on the way to yet another late shower. I missed the cut off time on the first day by a country mile, was 1 minute inside on the second day and hopelessly lost in yet another dismal rain swept forest on the third. But it wasn't all good, there were days when I felt like weeping with the pain off yet one more endless lung and leg burning climb. On and on and on because I knew there was no other way. The days just got harder and harder, ride when you can, grab a gear when you're able and push when you have to, but don't stop. There are (there must be) those who enjoyed each day, I am not one of that elite few. But I never expected to be one. What I did expect, and what I did get, was the immeasurable feeling of fulfilment that came with each nights crossing of the finishing line. And there were times that I took short cuts, and once or twice felt bad about that, but aged flesh can only push so far. Yet every night I rode across that winners line.
Though as the days grew harder, the camp site camaraderie grew stronger, faces that had been strangers turned out to be close friends, we shared a common hardship, a great respect developed. I felt privileged to be in such company, we happy band of brothers, and sisters, we happy few.
And of those few, the ones to me who stood out. Mark, I met you on the first day, both of us uncertain, we shared many weary miles, you were a stronger man than me, well done. Rob, Matt, Matt, Stephan, Josh, thanks for all the help, that dreadful Dyfi valley, rain swept and treacherous, one wrong turn disaster, we all of us got home safely. Annie, you cheered me up when I was down, encouraged me when things were bad. But please remember that time is a hard master, don't leave painful decisions till it's too late. And Bill, Henry, Jeremy (your three stooges Annie?) Bloody good fun to meet you all, I hope we'll meet again another day. Brian, far better than me, yet never once talked me down, thanks. Julie, you were a wonderful woman, I'm going to tell me mam all about you. So many others, Raf, Claire, Johan, all of you stronger yet all of you good.
The staff. Bob, a stalwart, there when he was needed, never a drama from a crisis. Carl, my heartfelt thanks, you kept my bike going so many times when 27 gears had been reduced to one. Terry, an eye for quality (although my merino vest has now been washed). Colin, when all was lost I'm glad that I saw you. Liz, a lunchtime superstar. Ever cheerful John.
And Singletrack's Nathan? A pleasure to have met you Nathan, There with brother Bill. You with a mere 200k? of training and Bill who'd been conned into that stupidity by your smooth talking Irish banter. Yet there you were, day after day, till injury forced a stop. You both deserved the final jersey.
And me? yes I received that coveted top, one of perhaps 250 people in the whole wide world who are entitled to wear the TransWales 2010 finishers jersey. And I've given it to our daughter, because it looks nice on her. And in any case, you're only as good as your last tee-shirt.
Oh, and the title? i wasn't quite last, but I was a bloody sight closer to last than I was to first. I'll check the final results when I'm feeling a little bit stronger.