Whilst revenge may be a dish best served cold, adventures are without a doubt best undertaken with friends, preferably under some sort of sunshine - good for moral.
Almost seven days ago to the minute I found myself ascending a long, half an hour or so climb, just north of Uleila del Campo in the Almeria region of Spain. James Fairbank (said adventurer/legendary friend) and I had been climbing for barely five minutes when a rider turned onto our road from the east. He had about two hundred meters on us and at first I fancied our chances of catching him. I had heard various tales of pro teams training in the region, yet had so far only seen a few club teams and lone riders. We rode for another minute or so, yet the gap refused to budge.
After a undesignated time period the dynamic changed, I pressed harder, grabbed another gear and stepped onto the pedals. James slotted into my wheel and for a minute or two I enjoyed having a carrot to chase after some, albeit lovely, very quiet roads. Yet the gap didnt considerably shift, the rider in navy, hips still as standing, was still ahead.
James gave the word, sensing my need to catch the rider. I pressed once more a little harder, spinning my sprocket up to speed and standing out of the saddle as I shifted down once again. I closed the gap, if it were a race inexperience would have taken its toll, patience meeting its match with my bubbling intrigue as too who it was up the road.
I get within a few meters and finally suck right up onto the wheel. It is a rider from the ProContinental Endura-NetApp team. I try to recover, sensing a slight lift in the pace already yet thinking little of it. The lactic build up is minimal, yet my enthusiasm to jump the gap may leave its mark later up this unknown climb.
Time passes fast and as I spin away I notice his cadence at first, his big ring levering round in comparison to my fast spinning legs. I notice his pearl white shoes, slight electric green accents on the logos matching his kit. I realise how much, if the roles were reversed, this would piss me off, a rider sucking along behind me, upsetting the tempo just with their very existence. Just as I think this, I am sure the pace was raised. Intimidation as much as anything kept me hidden inside the wheel, not wanting to infringe his effort, make a fool of myself. I was, for once, happy to be sucked along behind another riders cover.
When I think back now I am sure the pace rose considerably for the time I spent on the wheel. I sat there for a good twenty minutes before turning round to find James, it seemed like I had made a good effort, yet I was conscious our man could probably sit at this speed all day.
Five hours later I was still exhilarated by the experience. Riding alongside someone for whom my ambitions are a reality isn't an everyday occurrence and no matter how many times it happens I am sure I will always be just as thrilled.