There's nothing like amateur sport to make basic things beautiful.
Last weekend was the annual Rapha Cycling Club Road Race. I cycled up on the Saturday, stayed overnight and volunteered as a marshall on the Sunday. From the sweet taste of a mini malt loaf whilst standing on the roadside to the shared acceptance of wearing #capsnothats and joggers over lycra, the weekend was full of moments you can't find elsewhere.
Basic but beautiful.
Travelling to the event
The route was gorgeous. 70km of new roads, zero cars and a very welcomed tail wind.
Download the route here (and you can get the train straight back from Great Shepperton to Liverpool Street).
Nerves are often tamed by routine. The early morning was filled with people setting up rollers, pinning numbers on each other and aligning their socks with tan lines.
Food in tupperware
One of my favourite things in life is a packed lunch. Race HQ was a prepped-meal showcase, with consumption perfectly timed for their required calorie hit.
It was a carbon filled car park looked on by a group of envious spectators in their down jackets.
Carbon bikes won't go fast without caffeine filled legs. Riders and their fans (friends and family), waited eagerly next to the Rapha H Van. It may have been a 20 minute wait - an amount of time in a queue humans normally avoid at all costs - but us Brits see no barrier to a hot drink.
Military walky-talky precision
"There's three cars nearing point 3" "The breakaway are 1'25 in front. Over".
The precision that instructions were delivered from each marshall was inspired. I stood and listened on my marshalling corner with overwhelming respect as the squad calmly diffused every issue that appeared, including a school of deer trying to take part in the race.
Each lap was 15km. For a few minutes, as the race approached and passed, we were on full alert. For the 20-25 minutes between, we did nothing. We were in the middle of nowhere. I had no signal. I just stared at the landscape, admired the views, told my body not to need the toilet and, for once, did nothing.
Collectively, these basic but beautiful moments maketh the road race; a group of 'everyday people' making that extra effort, honouring their rituals and achieving. Even though it was tiring watching the ridiculous pace they maintained, I'll certainly never tire of being part of the culture.
Read more about the race, and a personal insight from one of the riders, here.
Final notes from the road: