Richard the Colombian

Richard Wright (pictured below) is the man who recommended to me that I read Mr Armstrong's "It's not about the bike" before anyone had ever heard of Lance. Rich has been riding since our university days and taught me how to handle and ride my first bike.

He's the quintessential climber with an uphill acceleration that few can match. You'd think he was born in the Colombian mountains with his penchant for addictive ingestants (chocolate in his case) and craggy hills, if it were not for his Scottish-Joburger's brogue. Unfortunately what he has in finesse he lacks, despite my encouragements, in the consummation of adequate fuels to support riding for 8 hours day-in day-out for a week. The pictures below taken during the Alpine Raid explain what I mean.

Below is a picture of Richard thinking about them thar hills and a slab of dark chocolate.

Being my room mate for the entire build up and duration of the Raid Alpine (7 days of riding), I was able to see Richard's metamorphosis from weekend warrior into man of tempered steel. Below is Richard after two days of easy riding. You have to love those red UV arm and leg sleeves.

Having a particular diet which included only chicken, fruit, vegetables and chocolates, and avoided things that most Frenchmen consume (i.e. cappuccinos, pastries, red meat, bread, pasta, red wine, beer, etc) meant that Richard was depleted after each session. Note the well placed beer during his afternoon recovery kip after completing a particularly tough day in the saddle. That's the closest he came to partaking in alcohol.

Rich turned 40 and we celebrated his birthday in style. Beaucoup de gateaux chocolat. There were several Welshmen in the group of 20, and the Happy Birthday that was sung at Rich's birthday dinner with our adopted Welsh choir must go down as the best one I have ever heard sung.

Aware of his culinary requirements, we spent a good two days trying to source a chicken for Richard's dinner. At long last after phoning ahead to various B&Bs we found him a baby chicken which the chefs, as it turns out, had not really seen or practised on before as they ended up under cooking the wee bird.

What happens on the Raid Alpine stays on the Raid Alpine. Note how Rich is slowly leaning out. One should always question if this was in his quest for a six-pack or to pull the ladies.

Here's Rich on the penultimate day.......more shredded than a tuna salad.

740 kilometres after leaving Geneva and arriving in Nice, this is what Richard looked like.

You learn a lot from a friend when you room with them for a week under conditions of intense exercise. Rich is a perfectionist with attention to detail which you see in his cycling fashion sense, adherence to his diet and the way he manicures his bike. It's interesting how I see half of what he does as overkill and time consuming with too much attention paid to detail, and yet you learn that the pursuit of perfection and excellence is an art which is acquired through methodical and painstaking attention to the detail which forms part of the whole. There is no easy way.

The great thing about rooming with Rich is that I learned something from him every day, especially that no matter how broken and tired you think you are: clean cycling kit, lots of humour and a smidge of camaraderie - mixed with chocolate - will always get you out the door and onto your bike.

Onwards, upwards,


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