Every now and again I need to see my mate Jim.
My inbuilt 'phys ninja' capacity has a pretty good run time, but like all our modern gucci kit essentials, I occasionally need recharging, and that's Jim's job. Before you think that this is heading off down Brokeback Mountain territory, ain't nobody poisoning my watering hole pardner.
Jim is a few years older than me, and a bit of an enigma. In the fifteen years that I've known him, I have no idea what he does for a living other than 'be Jim'. But I suppose that if I did, it would be akin to finding out that Thor is a part-time I.T. consultant. In my life, that is not Jim's role.
I have a vague recollection that he has a sister,I suppose he must have parents although I wouldn't be surprised if he was created by elemental forces and hatched out of an egg; probably already in his p.e. kit. I know his wife and luckily she is Jim in a blonde wig. But in my life, family tree knowledge is not Jim's role.
Spend half an hour with Jim and you'll find yourself doubling the amount of training you are currently doing.
Spend an evening with him and you will quit your job, enter 3 races a week for the rest of your life and join the Royal Marines. He is a walking, talking Mr. Motivator without the leotard.
Jim is not on Facebook. I know for a fact that he has emailed me in the past but his messages have some kind of sneaky in-built James Bond shit that means I have no record of his address and no way of pitifully offering excuses for poor performances. We communicate only by 'man text'- brief, to the point and with at least one race result included per text. No kisses, no smileys, no acronyms other than MTFU. Jim doesn't have a Garmin, you won't find him on Strava, and I've never seen him with a heart rate monitor.
Jim has done some coaching in the past, and his philosophy is that if you aren't prepared to put in 30 hours a week, you aren't worth bothering with. Jim is a bit of a 'one pace wonder', but that pace is nosebleed fast. Out of the blocks, in first place, death or glory.
If you need an excuse to get you out of bed and onto the bike, if you want to be the best athlete you can possibly be, don't look for a gym, look for a Jim.
The cross country season yet again ends at a time when the trails are in tip-top condition, our motivation is still high and bikes are still intact. The weekend just gone hosted the last round of the National MTB XC Series at a 'new' venue that has only been raced and ridden by mountain bikers in the know for the last 30 years.
We used to ride Cannock Chase in the days when I first had a car that could be depended on to make the hour journey there, and could be trusted to get us back in the dark. We would chuck our shonky bikes in the back of my Metro; a well-posh one with five doors and everything and splutter there with no plan, no spares, no food and no idea where we were going.
We would ride all day, following our noses, until we knew we were pushing our luck with daylight / parents and we'd ask the nearest indecipherable local for the quickest way back to the car, McDonalds and running the gauntlet back through Wolverhampton.
These days, if there isn't a way-marked trail centre there, 90% of mountain bikers wouldn't get out of their cars. I'm just glad I didn't invest heavily in shares in Ordnance Survey and neon highlighters when I had the chance.
I love trail centres as much as everyone else. I appreciate a well-designed berm and have ridden enough of them to have a mental top-ten that every male of an autistic bent will undoubtedly have stored away. However, trail centres in my opinion suffer from society's need to be entertained all day long and are only a short step away from having piped music on the way round. The awful truth about cycling is that sometimes it is just a miserable experience. If you haven't suffered across a misty moorland, got lost in a knee-deep bog or done numerous hours on interminable fire-roads, you don't deserve to enjoy a trail centre.
But Cannock's round of the Nationals was great. Nice campsite, lots and lots of firewood for our hundredth barbeque of the season (one of our friends says that the xcracer tent smells like a Jamaican smoke house) and loads of trails round the arena for the ADHD kids to rip up all weekend.
Highlight? Liam Killeen racing in his Malvern Cycles top. Arguably the best xc rider we've ever produced, could ride for anyone he wanted to, and who does he choose? His local club. Good effort Liam, riders belong in clubs.