Any given ride is like ordering a coffee from an unknown cafe; it can go perfectly smooth and you finish it feeling energised and inspired. On the other hand, it can go tits up and leave you disappointed and with a terribly bitter taste. Today was the latter. I set out to ride 140km with 2,000m of climbing but ended up sitting on a curb, only 40km later, in -1 degrees waiting to be picked up. Despite the excessive planning, today’s fate was to be a teacher not a training ride.
Below you’ll see the headlines of how this student went from effortlessly gliding through the German forests, swooning over the autumnal trees and affirming how wonderful this sport is to scaring the locals as I sat in more lycra than people in a derelict village felt comfortable with, feeling all the shitty feels as I tried to figure out how to get home.
Filled with porridge and enthusiasm
Snow, but not enough to effect the ride, just enough to feel like a badass for being out
Hopeful and happy
Road closure ahead
Walking 15 minutes up hill across a muddy field
Bike on shoulder pretending it’s cross (just being cross instead)
10 mins spent taking shit out of my cleats so I could clip in again
Annoyed but entertained
Longest inner tube change in history
No feeling left in hands
No friend to laugh with
Onwards to the first hill with a tyre as deflated as my energy levels
Hill amazing. 15% middle section
Second puncture on the descent
No more inner tubes
50km from home
No such thing as Uber
Limited phone signal
It’s -1 degrees
Shit. The. Bed
I set off on a 20 minute walk, desperately trying to find someone who speaks English or enough signal to make a call. Gorgeous setting around me, but when you’re in trouble an aesthetic tree is not going to drive you home. I managed to find enough 3G to whatsapp a friend who could pick me up. After sending my pin location, I made friends with the icy curb for the next 45 minutes whilst waiting for the superhero, armed with hoody and joggers, to arrive.
As the snow fell down, survival mode kicked in. I ate my remaining energy bars and told a passing driver that ‘alles gut, danke’ as he looked at me worryingly. All was not good, and the pain in my hands was becoming unbearable (I couldn't even type, so whatsapp updates to my boyfriend looked like code). I stood up and went for one more walk, stumbling across a little shop that opened at 1100. It was 1055. They looked at the state of me and welcomed me in. After realising they didn’t speak English, the only German I could muster was ‘Kaffee, bitte?!’. I’ve never been happier to hear the words ‘Ja’ as they began prepping the dish water filled polystyrene cup. Who cares, this is one shit coffee that will taste like an artisan poured flat white.
I had planned to arrive home late afternoon cold but fulfilled. Tired but energised by the training. As I stumbled in at midday, pushing the broken bike forward, placing my mud caped shoes on the floor, and looking into the mirror at my mascara smeared face, I realised I was not the legend I thought would be returning home.
Cycling, you’ve taught me that you can achieve a lot in this life. You can plan hard, work hard and be a better rider and human being. You’ve also taught me that life isn't always designed to go to plan. The only way to even have a chance of being consistently content, is to let go of the outcome and embrace what every ride (and every plan) teaches you.
You may have rebelled against my plans today, but I’ll be back for another class tomorrow. To be safe, it will probably be on the turbo.