A blog by Mick Claridge:
Day Infinity (Subtitle: Malcolm in Trouble)
As we rode into Laverna it had always been the plan to take the long way round the mountains, rather than go over them. Riding south along the range, I began to sing, starting with ‘She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain When She Comes’, followed by ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’. We hit the southern tip of the range, rounded the edge and headed north.
The headwind hit me like a freight train. I stopped whistling. I stopped singing. I even stopped saying hi to cyclists coming the other way.
This headwind was all Malcolm’s fault. He had booked us into a monastery. This monastery meant we had to cycle into this headwind. How could he have done this to us? (Anyone with kids will be familiar with this logic.)
A rear tire explosion meant we had to stop at at small town where we spotted the van – and Malcolm and Denese swanning around like they owned the place. I quietly changed the tire and gave Malcolm the odd scowl.
We hit the road again….and ran directly into a 9% gradient climb. A monastery into a headwind and at the top of a mountain….Malcolm’s demise suddenly went from hypothetical to essential, and the details began to take shape. He had to be stopped, and I was the one to do it. The Reaper was nothing compared to me this day!
Looking at the climb ahead, in the lowest gear already with another 3 miles to go, I murmured to myself,
‘I’m gonna kill him.’
Then I said it louder,
‘I’m gonna kill him!’
Then for no reason I began to laugh aloud, like an evil Bond film baddie:
‘MALCOLM, CAN YOU HEAR ME?’
Half way up the hill now. 6 mph, breathing like a wounded rhino…..
I spoke aloud once more but this time with more detail.
‘I’m gonna kill him. Then I’m gonna bury him. Then I’m gonna dig him up. Re-animate his body……THEN I’M GONNA KILL HIM AGAIN! BRING HIM BACK TO LIFE. THEN I’M GONNA DRIVE A STEAM ROLLER OVER HIM AND FEED HIM TO ALL THE LITTLE HEDGEHOGS. MUAHAHAHA!!’
I’d seriously lost the plot.
The summit and monastery appeared just in time.
But something had changed. The Reaper was still on my back. But now I was the Reapers Apprentice on Malcolm’s back.
Would we ever be the same again? Would Malcolm ever redeem himself?
Day Infinity +1 (Subtitle: Malcolm’s Redemption)
Perugia to Assisi
13 miles and a day of riding for the whole team. And a sight to never forget. Was it the view of Assisi in the distance, standing like a giant on the horizon? The cake -tea – cake combo fed to me at the cafe? The beautiful Italian countryside bordering a dead straight Roman road, or the fluffy white cloud-filled sky?
No. It was something more spectacular.
The plan was for all six of us to ride the route that day and send Mike Burton back for the van. The van was parked and Denese emerged fully kitted up. Then the door opened….. and a calf muscle appeared. Then another. Dragging my eyes upward, I realised the person operating those calves was vaguely familiar. It was the bottom half of Arnold Schwarzenegger joined to the top half of………… Malcolm.
What twisted alchemist had Malcolm been visiting to grow these enormities?
Just then he turned his back to the road. This was a bad move. A car swerved across the middle lane and an ice cream van spilled its load trying to miss the car. Doors and windows slammed shut and people ran inside screaming. A woman emerged from a doorway, pointed at Malcolm and howled, “The prophecy! IT’S THE PROPHECY!!” A man ran past shouting, “PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!”
When the smoke cleared, Malcolm climbed on his bike. He pedalled once and the clouds parted. It felt like an earthquake. We could do nothing but bow down to the magnificence of these two steam engines powering the pedals. Before we knew it, we were on the road with Malcolm leading…and me following, hypnotised by the movement taking place under that smooth skin. Malcolm was pounding out 16.8 mph on a flat surface into a headwind. This was not the plan for the day. It was supposed to be a nice easy 13 miler for the whole team. We did the ride in 45 minutes. Well, at least Malcolm did.
I will NEVER trust that man again for as long as I live. Those calves are the real thing.
I’m truly glad he’s on our side!
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