A good race is like a good story in that it has a start, a middle and an end.
It has a central character, the protagonist; an opposing force, the antagonist and a great bunch of companions that bring colour and context.
And of course it has a quest.
I’ve heard some authors say that the arc of their story arrived in an easeful manner after weeks of weeding through ideas.
This is exactly how the race descended one morning while I was cleaning my bike.
International travel and World Cup racing was unfortunately going to have to take a back seat due to COVID for a while longer. In 2020 I’d been up and down the length of Ireland and side-to-side so that was out.
I’d been thinking about the recent melding of Guinness and the World Ultra-Cycling Association’s World Records and our guiding principle of Reaching Further. If another world record was the best way forward it would have to be one that ‘reached further’, way further.
Part duel-part dance
So when it descended, it descended as the complete Wild Atlantic Way, 2343 kilometres and 23,231 meters of climbing that intimately hugs the west coast of Ireland. But let’s throw in an extra twist right up front by going north to south; against the prevailing wind.
You might think that I’m the only protagonist in this story and that the obstacles along the way, the hills, weather, wind, time, etc., provide the opposing forces but that’s not the whole truth.
Once a race goes over 1500 kilometers it takes on a different personality, the relationship becomes more complicated. You’re not dating any more, you’ve moved in!
As days become nights and nights become days the race shape-shifts and changes. It can assume at will and whim the protagonist or the antagonist role.
The best endurance racers learn to adapt and shift within the race or as the inner condition dictates. And dictate it will, I can assure you.
Ireland will insist on becoming the central character at times. After all this is her most wild, untamed and beautiful self. How could she not command center stage?
But she can turn just as quick to be an antagonist of great force. Anyone who has raced here knows that she can be villainess, vicious, fierce and unrelenting.
But so can I.
This race will be part duel and part dance between Ireland and my physical, mental and emotional capacity. Who creates the rhythm? Well that’s the fine art of being in the heart of the race. Sometimes you beat the drum and sometimes you have to dance to the beat.
The result will be what it is, a measurement of myself versus the race and I’m aiming to lay down a time worthy of a Guinness World Record but that’s not the real quest.
The Quest-The Why
I’m drawn to the edges, the places I have yet to visit inside myself and after all this time there is still more to discover.
How fierce, wise, courageous, gritty, vulnerable, resilient am I? How is time or the world I have recently found myself in, changing me? What are the undiscovered frontiers in the places I call home?
Endurance holds up a brutally honest mirror and if you’re brave enough to look, really look, there you are, completely exposed. It might take 30 or it might take 105-hours.
To know myself as I truly am, this is the ultimate quest.
This is why I race.
I can’t quest to this level without my merry band of companions who each play a vital role and have their own reasons to be on the race. We’ve spent more time talking about this as a team than ever before.
We share the road but not the journey, but we’re also an intrinsic part of each other’s journey and we’re committed to bearing witness to that.
So while the media camera may be pointed at me watch for the story unfolding within the crew – the support, personal challenge, expertise, loyalty, courage and fun.
I’d be lost, literally and figuratively, without them.
I hope you join us on this epic quest. There will be live GPS tracking. We’re aiming to bring you Ireland at her best and most brilliant and hopefully we can rise to our best and most brilliant too.
However the story writes itself I have a feeling it will be a good one.
Stay tuned for more content coming fast and furious. We’ll be talking about how we organise and prepare for a race of this magnitude.
We’ll be showing you our new bespoke Reaching Further race van built by team member, Eamonn Diver, and we’ll talk about our use of Hyundai alternative fuel vehicles, supplied by our new vehicle partner, Daly's Garage Limited, a family owned and run business since 1919.
Joe will walk you through his new SPIEGEL San Marino & Diablo builds in detail, the equipment and clothing he’s chosen for this race and what’s in store for 2021.
And there will be a very special guest for this particular race! We're excited to introduce you to him.
Join us on our media channels to make sure you don’t miss out on anything.
Dare to change? Check out SPIEGEL Bikes and Xentis Wheels. Joe's offering a custom build option for all his SPIEGEL customers.