There’s not a lot you’d expect to be able to say about a ride you’ve ridden six times previously and written at least a couple of blog posts about. But the truth is, every year is different. For a start, this year will be my son Ben’s first Cycle Tour – ok, at the age of 5 he’s still seven years away from riding his first full Argus. He does get to take part in his first Junior Cycle Tour this year though, and with no training wheels on his lovely 16″ bike either. A proud moment for both of us as parents.
As if that weren’t enough to take my focus off the main event, this year pretty much all of my thoughts and training have been working towards my first South African Audax – a 600km ride in Johannesburg that will hopefully serve as my PBP pre-qualifier. That’s assuming of course I can complete it. The first of my 200km training rides created some doubts, but the most recent one in February was much more reassuring, and more realistic with considerably less climbing as will be the case for the Joburg route. Even with the confidence though, comes the uncertainty of riding at altitude, on long featureless roads with little in the way of scenery to keep the mind fresh and alert.
Preparing for such a tough mental and physical endurance test has left the Argus to take care of itself as something of a routine ride this year – no real speed training, or even thoughts of attacking a personal best time. So I’ll be lining up and starting on Sunday without any real solid plan in mind. I’m not eager to plod slowly around and treat it as just a fun ride. Realistically though, I probably don’t have the pace in my legs at present to really attack it and race for a time. On the day, it’ll really come down to making it up as I go along – see what the weather and route conditions are in terms of bottlenecks and bunches, and judge as I go. In a way, that takes the pressure off, but of course that presumes I don’t care about my time at all. And that could never really be the case for an Argus. Having achieved a sub 4 once, it’d be a shame not to be able to do it again.