Big Mig is Muswell Hill Peloton’s voice of reason and moderation. It is difficult to reconcile this fact with the way he descends a mountain pass, or for that matter, Fitzjohn’s Avenue in Hampstead. At his age you would think that he should know better. Fearless, aerodynamic and young of outlook, he carves out the straightest of lines whilst plummeting down to Swiss Cottage or Le Bourg d’Oisans.
Like the rest of the ‘mature’ riders in the bunch, Big Mig’s mind is at odds with his body. When riding his bike in the group, he is a thirtysomething once again. And for the most part, his times on Strava endorse this ability as he consistently posts times that guys twenty years his junior would be proud of.
The same indicators apply to Iron Mike, Wild Bill, Pistol Pete, Wizard, Old Grey Socks, Killer Kay and The Wattmeister. On the bike, their minds are forever battling to control the body, to conjure up another effort, to manage the pain that this effort inflicts, to harness the dwindling reserves and to hang on in there to the end with the rest of the gang.
At some stage towards the end of a ride there is a sprint. Yesterday, after 100 kms of slippery Hertfordshire countryside, three old boys lined up against three (slightly) younger guys on Friern Barnet Lane. It was plain to see that the seniors were running on empty, but Big Mig and Iron Mike set a strong pace on the front before a resurgent Dingle Dave hit the final 200m at speed. The Wattmeister willed his heart and legs to deliver a final surge of power, 992 watts to be precise, but as he reached Dingle, the red livery of Young Nigel swept past to claim victory.
Immediately, cold air invades the bones, tiredness replaces energy and reality usurps fantasy. It’s not the exercise that defeats us, more the increased demand for recovery.
After this ride, the climb back up to Muswell Hill is the antithesis of yesterday’s sprint down to Regents Park. Big Mig doesn’t have a swoop left in him, but he’ll be back for more next week.
One thing is for sure, Young Nigel is a marked man.