More than once I've been asked how mentally sound John is. It's not right, people say in hushed tones, shaking their heads. No one in their right mind would choose to spend most of the day and night, day after day for weeks, pushing up mountains, taking power naps in inhospitable locations, being seen in public in Lycra, for the love of Pete!
Ah, I've countered, but that's just John! Mad dogs and Englishmen and all that. If he doesn't have a suitable challenge he's like a bear with a sore head.
Until today. At 7 am precisely. That's the moment I decided my husband has lost the plot.
John Bakewell using text-speak. John Bakewell, who recently went ballistic when I told him he was mansplaining ("That is NOT a word! That doesn't exist in the Oxford English Dictionary! Just do not ever say that again in my presence." To which I countered, "But now you're mansplaining about mansplaining."). John Bakewell, who prompts workmates to shout "Wot, wot!" in their best plummy accents and who routinely scolds his children from dropping their 't's - this John Bakewell has typed "OMG." Whatever next?
The phone call 12 hours later was no more reassuring. Although he's had about 4 hours sleep (for the second night in a row) and had already done about 160 miles today, as I type he's attempting to reach this year's first checkpoint on the Transcontinental Race. In fact, a quick check of the live tracking shows he's probably nearly at the top: http://trackleaders.com/transconrace15f (if you hover over race number 35, his current location pops up).
Known as "the Beast of Provence," Mont Ventoux has, according to Wikipedia, "become legendary as the scene of one of the most grueling climbs in the Tour de France bicycle race." It continues:
"South from Bédoin, the ascent is 1617 m over 21.8 km. This is the most famous and difficult ascent. The road to the summit has an average gradient of 7.43%. The last kilometres may have strong, violent winds."
Indeed, "wind speeds as high as 320 km/h (200 mph) have been recorded. The wind blows at 90+ km/h (56+ mph) 240 days a year. The road over the mountain is often closed due to high winds."
Given he's already succumbed to text speak, I think John's past redemption and I'm not really surprised he thinks it's a good idea to spend the remaining few hours of Day Three pedaling into wind up a mountain.
A rough guess estimates about half the racers have reached the first checkpoint at Mont Ventoux, with the leader already halfway across the top of Italy. So John's not the only bonkers one (though he is possibly the oldest!)
As I said before, the encouraging messages are pushing him ahead, so please keep them coming. The more LOLs the better.