The year is 2004. It’s winter. Sleety rain is lashing against the steamed up windows of a grimy northern pub and huddled inside a couple of semi drunk mountain bikers laugh and joke about what crazy adventures they could get up to in the upcoming year.

Bouyed by many pints of ale, ideas become crazier and crazier. Theories swirl around the table with an impetus created by alcohol and agreements are washed down with the consequencelessness bravery that only draft beer can provide. Hands get shaken as A Plan forms. This is definitely The One. We’re going All Out this time. Hic.

The walk home is stumbled and as the next day blinds with it’s cold, harsh light, the heroism in the pub the night before is forgotten. Lost, until, with a shock a few months later a “Congratulations, you’re in the Transalp” email appears.

Oh crap.
8 stage profiles are glanced at for the first time
Oh CRAP
Bigger, longer, steeper climbs for further than either of us has ever ridden before. Every day for a week.
OH
CRAP
Anyone know how you train to get fit, rather than just doss about on bikes? That information could be really useful right now…

Books on the subject are read. Internet research takes up much time when we should be working and after a few weeks, a training plan is formed.

The training works and we survive the race. After promising my girlfriend that al the extra riding is a “one off” I find myself quite enjoying the process of getting fit and, instead of getting back to dossing about once or twice a week, I start to seek out other races to aim for.

By 2006 I’ve had a few decent results in local races and it’s suggested, after several years of racing in a team at various 24 hour races, that I should give riding solo a go. I do. I actually fall asleep while sat on the bike at one point, run out of lights before dawn and discover that normally-tasty food can become utterly disgusting when trying to force it down your neck at 3am, but I love it and end up 3rd.

More of this please!

Many more races are attempted, results grow and riding becomes as much a part of what I do and who I am as anything else, if not more so. Big Rides become central to my own take on training, which seems to work as regards both race results and general happiness. People step in, start to help me out and somehow I find myself racing ‘properly’. Still working full time, but usually thinking about the next ride, the next race and if I can leave early to get out on the bike…

A desire to go and experience racing abroad again surfaced last year when 3 of us roadtripped our way over to the Paris-Roubaix sportive. It was great fun. It cemented in my head that a trip over to Europe for some race action was very much The Thing To Do each year…but what to do in 2012?

Well that was answered in no uncertain terms when Jase won Relentless24 and got, as a prize, an entry to the 2012 24hr solo World Champs, in Italy. There was no way he was going to experince THAT on his own! Race entries opened and I hit “Go” without even baulking at the cost (I did that shortly afterwards).

That was last night. Now, in the cold light of day a sudden realisation that I should get some sort of ‘proper’ training sorted for it has surfaced…it’s a strangely familiar feeling!