Sunday, January 11, 2009

Friends, Romans, Citizens

My friend Ian once said you know a true friend when you ring them at three in the morning and say your car's broken down in the snow. Thankfully that's not happened yet, but I did email him to ask if he fancied driving five hundred miles to ride as my co-pilot in the World Mountain Bike Chariot Racing Championships. As you can see, he doesn't do things in half measures.

Our charioteer, Paul, was similarly cajoled into making the journey. Actually, Paul needs little persuasion for this sort of thing, and as I hadn't seen him in a few years it seemed a good excuse to have a laugh.

Most of the competitors had the same idea - we raced against two polar bears pulling an ice queen and narrowly lost out on a place in the final to Anthony and Cleopatra. We met Sally and James from
Wacky Nation who spend their lives doing these sorts of events, and cheered a trio of Roman Goddesses who took twice as long as anyone else to complete the course. It was a shame that the eventual winners were the only competitors with serious bikes, full cycling kit and a silth like charioteer who must have weighed less than my left leg. Talk about missing the point.

The venue was Llanwrtyd
Wells - home of the famous Man versus Horse race and World Bog Snorkelling Championships. They make a big deal of these events, not just because they attract visitors, but because they bring the community together. It seems to be working. Later, we met the three Roman Goddesses having lunch with their kids the Drovers Cafe; in the evening a toga party was planned at the pub. As I left, a drunken senator was stumbling across the square to a backdrop of the snow covered Elenydd mountains.

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