Five days to go until the Paris-Roubaix cyclo-sportive and as it gets nearer my almost puppyish excitement is being tempered by some rather black thoughts.
I decided the most positive thing I could do was to write them down in a list and then laugh at each of them, diminishing them in scale.
1. The distance
It?s 255 kilometres, or 158 miles in English money, which is quite a long way. It doesn?t take a GCSE in maths to calculate that in order to reach the Roubaix velodrome inside ten hours we?ll have to average 16 miles per hour, including stops. Ten hours. That?s quite a long time.
2. The cobbles
I?ve ridden the Arenberg Forest before and thought my bones were snapping one by one. That?s not an exaggeration. Every jolt feels like you?ve just had your crown jewels trapped in a slamming fire door. My own personal deal with myself is that I will ride the Arenberg section like the pros ? bang in the centre of the cobbles. On race day the cinder track to the side is out of bounds to the riders, so I will stick my guns and ride on the pavé too. Just like a real man. However, on every other section I will be seeking the coward?s line.
3. Major mechanical breakdown
Very little I can do about this other than trust the Pinarello FP5. The bike is courtesy of the nice people at Yellow and I am confident it is up to the job.
4. Major physical breakdown
Very little I can do about this either. I?ve ridden more than 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) in May so there?s little more I could have done in terms of quantity of training. Of late the quality of one or two of my sessions has been a bit lacking but if I eat and drink properly and resist the temptation to go too fast too early, I should be okay.
You can?t rule it out. It rained at the Tour of Flanders sportive in April and I saw some really unpleasant stacks on the cobbles. My biggest concern is remaining concentrated later on as the cobbles come thick and fast and my reaction times slow as I get tired.
6. Needing a ?number two?
I intend to eat a very, very large breakfast at about 5am on the day of the ride. By the time we reach the first section of pavé at Troisvilles it?ll be around 10am. I just hope the bumpy road doesn?t bring on an unwelcome stirring.
7. The rain
The weather is so unpredictable it could rain. After hoping for rain for the pro race in April this would be an unwelcome but thoroughly deserved piece of justice. Please don?t rain. I?m prepared to beg.
There are 250 British riders in the field of 2,150 registered for the event, which only takes place once every two years. It promises to be quite an experience.
Are you riding too? If so I?d love to hear about your ride. Email me at email@example.com when it?s all over and we?ll publish the best anecdotes and most epic tales on the website.
In the meantime, good luck. Try not to laugh as you pass me. And if you see me by the side of the road in some kind of physical or mechanical distress, don?t worry. I?ll be fine. You ride on. I?ll catch you up.
IAN CLEVERLY’S PARIS-ROUBAIX BLOG
I’m ready to rumble