The man with the hammer

I’ve learnt a new cycling term.

In English when you can’t go any further, and just one more pedal turn, one more km, or one more hill is too much, you’ve hit the wall. It’s certainly not exclusively a cycling term, you say it just about to anyone, and it’s sort of obvious what you’re talking about.

In French (no, I’m not going to write in French), the man with the hammer hits you, or you’re attached by the witch with the green teeth. I’m sorry, maybe something is lost in translation, but a witch with green teeth? Doesn’t make any sense to me.

The man with the hammer does. He’s the bugger who hides around the corner and as you go past whacks you between the shoulder blades to make sure you can’t go any further. I think his brother, or maybe his cousin, is the brickie who builds the wall that people hit.

I headed out with my usual Saturday group this morning – great to see everyone after a month away, swap a few stories, and just have some general chit chat. 30 or so kilometres into the ride, most of the bunch turned around – family commitments, someone had to do some work, the usual excuses.

So then we were three.

Another 15k or so up the road, one more turned. So then we were two.

I wasn’t expecting to ride more than 80k, maybe 90, but as I didn’t have anything to do for the afternoon (other than this post), I kept riding.

We did some good climbs out the back of Frankston. We had a coffee in Mt Eliza, then started riding again, both feeling fresh. Great climbing up the highway behind Mt. Martha. We decided to turn around when we got to Dromana – maybe 75k from home. We kept riding, and chatting, and enjoying the day.

Then Shane flatted. He fixed the flat, but it happened again 10k later. He didn’t have another spare tube, mine didn’t fit his bike. So he called a cab and headed for a bike shop in Frankston.

Then there was one.

Some days riding can be hard, but it’s always harder on your own. In a group you always have someone to share the pain with. Someone to follow, or someone to follow you, on a tough climb.

I had my own company for the next 50k. And I was running out of steam. Half a Powerbar, quick stop at a Service Station to refill my bidon, and off again – but a little slower than I would have liked.

I struggled the last 25k … even the small hills felt huge. The man with the hammer took a few swings at me …. he missed. But I know he’s out there somewhere.

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