Katie Archibald column: Not getting drunk, and the shame of petty disappointment

“I’ve never mastered walking the tightrope that separates loss of inhibition from throwing up on the pavement”

Katie Archibald.

(Image credit: Nick Hill)

Olympic and world champion Katie Archibald got into cycling after winning handicap races on a Highland Games grass track

I am on the last train home from Edinburgh to Glasgow and it’s rammed. No drinking allowed on trains after 9pm, which is no issue because everyone here is at the pint-of-water-and-slice-of-toast stage in a night out. I myself am stone-cold sober because I like to show off that I’m an athlete.

In truth I find getting drunk expensive and hard work. A more Russian approach of drinking neat vodka might help me but there’s a stigma in the sporting world around copying Russian habits. I’ve also never mastered walking the tightrope that separates loss of inhibition from throwing up on the pavement. The Russian system likely wouldn’t help that.

This big sacrifice of not getting bladdered every weekend, when trumpeted as a ‘sacrifice’ rather than revealed as a ‘relief’, helps alleviate guilt for my more sincere vices.

>>> Katie Archibald column: ‘It was a pretty savage race, bodies everywhere’

Yes, I’ve managed to produce an empty container where once there was a litre of ice cream, but I’ve not touched the tequila all week! With this system I sleep like a baby. A very full baby with sticky hands who passed out on the sofa and woke up with a spoon stuck to their face.

There are no babies on this train. There are some crying people though. This is another stage of drunk that I’ve never mastered (anything that falls between mildly tipsy and chundering out the window I rarely experience).

I have, however, cried after being beaten in a bike race so I feel I recognise the icky emotions tied to self-indulgent crying. It was the 2015 Track World Championships and I was part of the team that ended GB’s four-year team pursuit winning streak.

A silver medal punched the air out of my chest and I rode straight from the finish line to the toilets to sit, hot-faced and gasping for breath between snotty, gurgling sobs. The shame of such petty disappointment was equal to the shame of losing.

Crying person two seats down — I feel your pain.

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