Sol Invictus

Due to an annoying scheduling clash, I had to give this years Ride to the Sun a miss, having ridden the first year out of curiosity. I then returned with friends for an enjoyable down-and-back route last year due to increased interest in the event and the ever-present difficulty of getting more than one bike on a train in the UK.

It’s very much a “because it’s there” type of event; the only things that you’re racing are your bike light’s batteries and the sunrise at Cramond — there’s a great camaraderie in the shared adventure. The route is relatively flat with only one climb to speak of (the fantastically-named Devil’s Beef Tub — just after Moffat and the chip shop stop).

All being well, I’ll be back for 2018.

A new sport

Last week saw first leg of the annual composite shinty/hurling series contested between Ireland and Scotland. I don’t claim to be an aficionado of either sport. Practically all I know is that they are both renowned for being a proper “mans game” with hard knocks accepted as part and parcel.

I’m a big fan of combining words in order to make new words. Usually this just generates mild amusement but in this case I think that one of the resulting words genuinely manages to portray the gist of both the original words. I dismissed the option of “Shing” in favour of “Hurty”.

Olympic spirit

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games got off to a horrible start with the death of the 21 year-old Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili during training and there’s no doubt that this terrible event will cast a dark shadow on the memory of an otherwise excellent couple of weeks.

If this terrible accident was the low point, then the highlight had to be the debut of skier cross. A lot of people here in the UK dismiss the Winter Olympics, regarding the events as the mountain passtimes of the rich and spoiled, failing to recognise the years of training and sacrifice each and every athlete dedicate to their sport.

Throughout the Games, these athletes displayed tremendous feats of not only physical but also mental and emotional strength. None more so than ice skater Joannie Rochette who competed only days after the death of her mother and Petra Majdic who won bronze with five broken ribs and a punctured lung.

After Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang’s injury forced him to withdraw from the Beijing final in 2008, his sponsors offered their immedite support – Nike quickly releasing a special advert (from Wieden + Kennedy) with this message:

“Love competition.
Love risking your pride.
Love winning it back.
Love giving it everything you’ve got.
Love the glory. Love the pain.
Love sport even when it breaks your heart.”

You may think this was merely cynical corporate marketing but personally it beautifully encapsulates the spirit of the Games. Our day-to-day view of sport at the moment tends to be all about match fixing allegations, drug taking, personal scandal or cold-hearted business deals.

For some, the best Olympic moments feature the brave have-a-go underdog like Michael Edwards (you’ll probably know him better as Eddie the Eagle) or Eric “The Eel” Moussambani. However, in my eyes, nothing will ever eclipse the memory of Derek Redmond and his father on the track in 1992 and I don’t mind admitting that I well-up every single time I watch it.

Challenges

As part of a multi-pronged attack on my current bout of transient insomnia I went along to the gym late yesterday evening to relax awhile in the jacuzzi. Just under an hour later I was on my way out and about to head back to the flat for a hot chocolate when I was collared by the Virgin Active front-of-house staff who were pushing their “MoveMore Challenge” – perform a timed series of exercises 15 times over a three week period. I signed up.

This has come at a most opportune time as I’m in desperate need of some motivation to get back into a good routine. The gym is simply mobbed at the start of every year and it’s a real struggle to access the equipment you want, which has been an all too easy excuse for me to stay on the sofa too often.

I’m looking forward to this actually. It should be a bit of fun and not all that strenuous in reality. If you want to hear what a real challenge is then check out the guys attempting the Outer Hebrides Sub 60 in order to raise a target of an amazing £25,000 for the children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent. Please give generously.

Bicycle Race

Rock Racers

Last Saturday I woke up at 7am (which is the middle of the night at the weekend as far as I’m concerned) and got the train across to Glasgow for the start of the penultimate stage of the Tour of Britian before catching up with some friends for lunch at Kember & Jones.

There were a good few hundred people milling around the start area despite the damp weather. I’m willing to bet that the numbers will have been swelled by the awesome performance of the British cyclists in Beijing and the subsequent increased media exposure. Geraint Thomas, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Newton all were racing while Mark Cavendish plumped for riding the Tour of Missouri.