The Awkward Guide

In every situation in life, there's always a way to make a tit of yourself

Tour de Mottram – The Triumph of Optimism Over Ability

I don’t think I’ve actually mentioned this before but if I have then I apologise profusely for repeating myself. Some of you know, but others may not, that I will be taking part in my very first triathlon on the 4th of September. And like all the top professionals I’ve persuaded my mum to do it with me. That way if it all goes wrong at least I’ll have an equally sweaty shoulder to cry on.

So since I finished my exams and came home at the end of May we’ve been steadily training away with fluctuating levels of enthusiasm and tiredness. This morning we tuned in to watch some of the Tour de France highlights from yesterday’s stage, perhaps slightly hoping to absorb some of the talent of people who can ride bikes impressively quickly through Alpine mountain passes by some form of miraculous televisual osmosis.

Needless to say that did not happen. What did happen, however, was that we were inspired to seize the one day of British summer when it wasn’t pissing it down and embark on our own feat of physical endurance. Which was not actually a feat of anything at all, except some perilous traffic dodging and overcoming the fact that our legs were a bit tired from running earlier in the week. But for the sake of dramatic embellishment, let’s call that a feat.

Our feat consisted of doing the same route we’ve done several times before, but this time we gave it a name. As we set off under the steely grey skies of Greater Manchester, we called it the Tour de Mottram (because it circumnavigates Mottram, we’re clever like that you know) and we attacked those slight gradients and negligible inclines like Alberto Contador attacks the Pyrenees.

It was just like the Tour de France only with fewer mountains to climb and more WAGs in 4x4s to dodge. I’m not sure which is more dangerous. Actually, with our track record with bikes we were probably more at risk of having an unholy pile-up on Bonis Hall Lane than the pros are on treacherous Alpine descents.

Instead of being cheered by crowds of Frenchmen, we were ignored encouragingly by the occasional dog-walker. Instead of deftly snatching up water bottles and packets of energy gel, we tried not to swallow too many flies or get hit in the face by slightly overgrown hedgerows. Instead of sweeping round cordoned off roads, we attempted to not get mown down by crazed mothers doing the school run. Instead of lithe, toned bodies in sponsored jerseys, we tried not to think about what our derrieres looked like in padded shorts with the “for the love of God don’t run me over” reflective strips.

Ok, so it was nothing like the Tour de France. But as we peddled away pretending to be proper cyclists we actually managed to do the circuit faster than on previous attempts, despite the slight fatigue and training weariness. This small victory, coming in the same week as managing to knock a minute off our 5km run time (with the added bonus of also not wheezing like an injured water buffalo) has given me more faith in a proverb I had been starting to suspect may be true.

I’d love to say this is an ancient proverb passed down through generations of great and noble thinkers. But that would be a downright lie. I made it up, which probably means that it’s not technically a proverb at all but nevermind, based on a combination of training experience and those stirring speeches from cheesy sports films (“It’s not in his feet, Charlie, it’s in his heart!”)

And it is as follows:

If you haven’t realised yet that you can’t do something, then you probably can.

So far Mum and I haven’t realised that we are too slow, too red-faced when running, too old, too inexperienced, too likely to drown if splashed in the face by a wave, too prone to biking accidents, and generally too bad at the whole thing to complete a triathlon.

Here’s hoping that come September my proverb will turn out to be true and that in the end optimism will triumph over a lack of ability.


One comment on “Tour de Mottram – The Triumph of Optimism Over Ability

  1. Badger of Woodford

    Complete it you almost certainly will ……….. but will you be able to live with the consequences?


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