There were certainly a lot of sore heads in Wales this weekend after a trimphant victory in the 6 Nations rugby. Wales turned over the French and completed the clean sweep and grand slam.
Cardiff is quite a special place to be when the international game is in town, the whole place erupts into a carnival atmosphere with everyone out for a good time and to get behind the national side.
It was living here a few years ago that really converted me to the game, having grown up very much a footballer I played schoolboy football for several teams before being scouted to play for Norwich City. At that age I thought Rugby was a clumsy and ugly game played by people without the physique to run and play ' the beautiful game', well I think I can hold my hands up and say I was wrong. At the age of 16 I quit football for good and started out on my new passion for bikes - I've never looked back really and it was this step away from football together with spending more time around the Welsh capitol when the big games were on that converted me to the tough but incredibly exciting game of rugby which I have enjoyed following over the last 10 yrs.
After a great evenings celebration in Cardiff I spent Sunday up in my local woods on the bike on some short downhills I have. These are decidous woods with the slickest of red clay, and yesterday was wet... real wet! This riding cleared my head and gave me time to reflect on our sport and where we fit into this country so passionate about sport. I wondered how those 10's or hundreds of thousands of people would view us sliding about the woods in the mud, covered from head to toe - pushing harder until we crash but always grinning. Then I reasoned that they would probably be indifferent, while football and rugby are a sport for the masses, engaging to watch, teams to get behind and with tangible results and achievements, mountain biking to the masses is a little less clear cut, to many it is still probably viewed as a minority perverse pastime involving mud, lycra and lots of climbing.
The difference comes if you actually get out there and do it, then it all becomes clear and painfully simple, our tangible goals being to hold that line, make the turn or just to push yourself to bring a grin to your face. It's really about yourself, although riding with your mates is often the most fun, it's what you do on your bike that brings about that simple pleasure and I remembered one of the main reasons I left football was the feeling that you had given everything you had left in you only to be let down by other people who didn't put in 100%, well on a mountain bike you can't blame anyone else... the buck stops with you, and I like that.
Wales - Grand Slam Champions - Watched by Millions
Rowan - Local Woods - Course record holder - watched by none