Make rides, not excuses

Even if you’re the most enthusiastic rider in town, sometimes you can’t help but take a break. A simple excuse is all you need.

By David Moseley

It is inevitable. No matter if you’re super fit, super enthusiastic or Superman, a time will come when you’ll have no option but to make an excuse. In endurance sports like cycling and running the excuses often only pop into your head, never passing your lips for fear of falling behind on a training programme or simply letting yourself or your chums down. But sometimes, on some days, when the wind may be howling, or the rain clattering down, or the legs unwilling, or the snooze button just too darn appealing, an excuse is needed. They needn’t be extravagant. Sometimes simplicity is the best policy.

In my tight-knit cycling group excuses are rare, but they happen. We’re a bunch that has braved cold winter mornings, violent south-easters and mud-splattered events throughout 2013 just so we can ride in 2014 fitter, faster and stronger than ever before. In fact, such was our determination that we made a pact at the start of last year: the only viable excuse for not making a group ride was to be out of town or drunk, or drunk out of town. Feeble hangovers would not pass muster, nor would late nights at the office. You commit to ride, so you ride.

But the members of this group are not without their wiles. And as the training days piled on top of one and other noncommittal replies crept into WhatsApp group messages. “Ja, keen to ride guys. Just fighting a head cold. But count me in.” You know what happens next. The ride starts the next day one cyclist short.

Personally, I prefer the “Gippo Guts Gambit”, where you announce your bowel movements to the group knowing that no one in their right mind desires any further detail. But you can only blame your dodgy guts so many times before your mates start encouraging you to visit the nearest spastic colon clinic, so I save that for the most miserable of mornings.

While most strive for creativity when they wish to skip a ride (“my geyser burst in the middle of the night”, “I have an early coffee meeting”, “burglars ran through my house, only to break into my neighbour and leave me unscathed”) one man in our crew is not afraid to use a timeless classic, a throwaway line that’s been utilised from errant school kids to jaded office workers since time began. What irritates the rest of us is not that our pal skips his rides, it’s that none of us thought of it first.

Waiting at our designated meeting point in the morning, with time ticking away, we start to ask, “Did Mike say he was coming?” asks Chris, a man who can’t afford to waste time. “Ja man, he said was in,” I assure, wishing I was still in bed. “He’ll be here, for sure,” concurs Jonno, whose time to ride is all the time. Watches are glanced at and sighs are released. “No man, let’s just go,” insists Andrew, who no one had noticed.

And as we head off four phones beep in unison and there it is, the Excuse de Grâce. “Sorry guys,” writes Mike, unapologetic as a puppy peeing on your Persian rug. “Alarm didn’t off. I overslept. Keen for tomorrow, though.” Wry smiles and the clank of cleats hitting pedals fill the knowing silence…