Here is a snapshot of what separates us from the normal people.
By ‘us’ I mean people who ride bikes - doesn’t matter for now what kind or where we go - and by normal people I mean that grey horde living sad, meaningless existences without bikes.
OK that is probably a bit much. Dial that back to people who have yet to discover bikes.
I connected with a mate from Queensland for a lap of the local.
Nearing the top of a tedious climb there is an intersection with an even more tedious climb. Hauling his carcass up the last few metres of that ascent was Craig, whose back story is here.
We gathered at the top of the hill to compare notes. Craig had just returned from a trip to the USA, so we reminisced about trails we had both ridden, learned about other stuff he had ridden, and pondered the general differences between Colorado high country and our little joint.
We then moved on to ‘in other news’, and that is when things became weird.
Craig was attempting to complete the course planned for the upcoming Whaka 100.
The Whaka 100 is a hideous experience that I can not recommend highly enough, it is a must-do for anybody who likes very long and difficult days in the saddle. I may do it again sometime, but then again, maybe not. Nowadays there is an even less attractive option that has people lining up to enter: a 160km version that I can comfortably say will never be a thing, for me anyway.
But back to Craig.
It turns out he did the 100 last year, and finished it (an achievement in itself). He had planned to improve his time this year, with all that recent high-altitude gas in the tank.
Then life got in the way.
His success at building pump tracks was carrying him off to a foreign land for a month. A month that straddles the Whaka weekend.
A normal person would take that as a sign, and count themselves lucky to have dodged that date with lactic overload. But then I guess a normal person (see above) would not be on the start list in the first place.
But Craig is one of ‘us’. So here he was, on a sunny Friday, when he could have been mowing the lawn, or painting something, or just sitting around waiting for lunch, riding 100 kilometres of trail with nobody watching. The only witness to this mammoth effort was his own conscience.
We rode together briefly to the top of Gunna Gotta, where I foolishly let him go first. I had forgotten how fast he is down a hill, so by the time I popped out he was disappearing into the trees a few hundred metres up the road. We didn’t cross paths again that day, but I did get a message late that night.
“103km. 8.5hrs. Still alive”
Faith in our version of humanity renewed.