As a 17 year old I had it down to a tee, get out of school, head home, get the bike ready for that evenings club run, have the tea served up (an hour and a half before getting out! cheers Ma), upstairs put on some sick eighties pop and lie on the ground with my feet high against the wall until twenty to seven.
If your not going to have a good session with that preparation you can throw your hat at it. That routine would start a week or two before easter and carry on until the nights closed in on us sometime around the end of september, all through inter cert, all through leaving cert. Its hard to divert an addict. In any case my rationalisation for getting out was all to do with the importance of fresh air to the 'thinking' brain, this of course was fact, but the scales tipped heavily on the fresh air side instead of an ideal 'balance' with the book eating side.
|This picture was taken in 1971 at Pearse sq. Fermoy, A bit before my time but not a whole lot has changed on the domestic scene bar a bit more bling.|
That did'nt matter. Cycling mattered. Working for the day that it would all come together, the day's when I would'nt feel the pedals, be able to sit on the front of a lineout until it split and lead home the remainder of the group. those day's would come but not very often. Consistency was the key and for all the hard work a small but potent wreckless gene was always lurking to throw a spanner in the consistency works.
The hard work involved in being competitive at a local level was enough to snuff out any notions of taking it any further. An average week would mean anything from 12 to 16 hours on the bike and when things got specific it could hit the late teens, Thinking about it now I was fairly close to the top level of pure clean sport around these parts, In actual fact it was 'real racing'. Things start to change on the next rung up. We knew who was going well and we tried to beat them, if we did'nt, no harm done.
Pressure to win from the boss, the thought of 'losing' prize money, delays in getting the promised big win for the big sponsor changes the whole picture. Like in business, some people will do anything for the extra buck. Top level sport is not about sport but the business men on the sidelines, sport is the product and, no denying can at times be entertaining with the ability to make you forget what's actually going on in the background, if only for a time.
An interesting article by Ian O Riordan in The Irish Times last week shed light on a new level of underhand corruption in top level sport, this time in Australia and another piece in www.stickybottle.com outlines the attitudes of premiership footballers looking for that extra hand. If your maxed out on hours and starting to fall to pieces your choice is to call it a day or get some 'help'. Manufacturers and suppliers of the multitudes of PED's could not survive on the very limited cycling market. The products are there to be sold.
For the past few weeks I hav'nt had a leg on me, sore hamstrings and quads have been the norm. Not normally one for PED's, Iv just been putting up with it. A two night stag in the meantime did'nt help things. Against every textbook, I went out and ran four quick mile pieces tonight out of the blue, quicker than I'v run in a long time. It hurt a bit, but the buzz of knowing I hav'nt totally lost it as I approach the big four Oh! was enough to know I'll be out again before the end of the week.
So big thanks to whichever of my ancestors passed on that seed of wrecklessness. It continues to serve me well.