As Mike and I have been watching the weather forecast like the vital signs of a dying man, we knew today would be a great day to have off. But imagine my disappointment when, after the jubilant excesses of yesterday’s climb to the top of Livigno’s mountains, I woke up again with a painfully sore, candystriped throat and blocked, stabbing sinuses. Sick. Again.
Well let’s be positive. It’s still a good day to be sick. 7 degrees and constant rain, fog, and other chilly winter mix weather. The weather is entirely expected, but it’s amazing how universally the mood changes. Everything washed out and dulled, people walk with their heads bowed against the tumbling wet, the trails sit sodden and colourless. I combated all this by eating a block of chocolate, then worried that instead of creating all those millions of lovely little healthy red blood cells, I’d actually filled my veins with microscopic globs of cocoa butter. So I switched to cheese. We listened, taunted, as the pros who share our chalet abused their rollers in the garage, then reminded each other that we actually really, really needed a rest day. Plus we’re feeling sick anyway.
It’s becoming more and more of an effort to remain positive about The Really Big Races coming up, but hey. I know I’ve done everything I can, made the best decisions I could, and everything else is just down to luck. And maybe abstaining from chocolate binges.
I’ve been reflecting a lot on how much performance in a sport is down to luck, and more than that, good fortune. Many pros and semi-pros we meet are sustained not by their teams, as such, but by generous partners or parents, inheritances or family fortunes. It’s long been apparent to me that mountain biking is really a wealthy person’s sport, and it’s more and more obvious in Europe, where those who can afford endless travel, expensive bikes and spares, accommodation at altitude, coaching, oh. And not working – are the people who have the best chance to succeed. That’s fine, really. I think it’s also important to pause and appreciate how lucky we are just to be here when performance – the old return on all this investment – is in question, as mine surely is now.
So we did some laundry and went for a drive to pick up some bits and pieces we’d misplaced in our travels, driving all the way back to Scuol and returning again. We enjoyed the views over the Bernina Pass, the sodden trails we weren’t riding, the views of the Swiss Nationalpark, wherein, somewhere, wander Europe’s last bears. Mike regaled me with his own brand of ‘edutainment’, abridged historical accounts mixed with intensely detailed descriptions of previous travels.
Tomorrow the forecast is very similar. I’d planned some 10 minute intervals but unless an immunological miracle occurs overnight I’ll either take another day off, or stick to an easy ride. Mike will pick up our training diary, and by Sunday, let’s hope that this train is back on the rails.