Training for the 3 day, 200 mile #RatRaceCrossing has not only required a change in riding style but also a change in mindset, in the short term at least. I have paid quite a bit of money to enter and I want to complete the event so not only do I raise as much as I can for my charities, but also to have the privilege and experience of riding through three of the country’s beautiful national parks. So, next month I have the first of the awesome Tweedlove enduro races – how do I approach that…
Even though my days of flying at 250ft above the ground at 500mph in the pitch back of night are sadly over, I still need some form of adrenaline kick and excitement in order to ‘feel alive’. Racing bikes provides that for me but the dangers are apparent – last summer one of the local pro racers that I look to for inspiration, on his local trails that he knows so well, had a big crash and fractured his spine. It was great to then ride with him again recently during a photoshoot for Enduro Magazine and hopefully his 2016 season will be full of racing and not rehab! Accidents can happen to anyone, especially in a sport where external factors play such a huge part. This is why I am raising money for the Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team and Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance as fingers crossed I will never need them but, if I do, I want them to help me out of the dwang!
Local Ibis Cycles rider Gary Forrest back on the bike after a huge injury last year. Photo: Trevor Worsey
I have been doing quite a bit of riding focusing on lower heart rates, endurance and stamina in order to prepare for long hours in the saddle for three consecutive days. This I am sure will be of benefit for the more intense style of enduro racing but, why enter a race if you don’t give it a 100% – I am not going to trouble the podium, I know that, but I also came 31st in a field of 389 in the Scottish Open Enduro last autumn so I don’t want to take a step back! But, if I do have an accident, it could write me out of completing The Crossing and be of little help to my wife as the birth of our second child rapidly nears.
People don’t like the inherent uncertainty but life is full of risk; some measured, some unavoidable. It’s the approach one takes that determines what they are prepared to accept and the subsequent outcome(s). I spent a year working in military aviation risk management and that opened my eyes up to the variations in approach by every individual, even when there were extensive corporate guidelines. I know people that are very risk adverse when it comes to finances or injury yet will conduct the most crazy overtaking manoeuvre to try and save themselves thirty seconds on the drive to work.
In full race flow during last years Tweedlove Scottish Open Enduro
So, how am I going to approach the race? The only way I know and that is full on. If I want to have a fun and have an enjoyable ride I will go out with my mates and ride well within my abilities and the conditions. This is a race; I have paid to race and I still need that kick. If something happens I will deal with it, but I am not going to race in the fear that I might crash, the chain might snap, I get a puncture etc – I am going to race to do the best I can not only for me but also so that my son can watch, be proud of his dad and in some small way at the age of three, see that life is full of risks. Plus he loves ringing his Tweedlove cowbell!
Only you can judge the amount of risk you want to take for any given scenario, but life would be unworkable being totally risk adverse and reckless if you just waded in without due consideration of the risk v. reward calculation. I leave you with this quote from Evel Knievel; I saw it in a bike magazine many years ago, cut it out and have it framed on a wall as I thought it was brilliant.
“I think it is better to risk my life and to be a ‘has been’ than to never have been at all. Even though crippled and busted in half, it has been better to take a chance to win a victory or suffer defeat than to live like others do who will never know a victory or defeat because they have not had the guts to try either”.