Why on earth are all my friends half my size and 20 kg lighter than me? I have asked myself this question on many occasions during my cycling life, yet never more so than the last few days of this trip.
Whilst Larry dances off into the distance doing ’30/30′ intervals and torque efforts, I ‘hack’ on behind. Then I begin praying that I’ll make it to the top with enough time to put my jacket on for the descent before Larry starts barking orders of attack.
Today he forced me to eat a whole bag of shark Haribos halfway up Col de l’Iseran because he thought I might blow my doors off. The thing is, this is exactly what Larry Warbasse has done for me every single day since I met him on a mild December morning in Nice.
Larry has looked after me so much, that sometimes I feel like his overgrown baby brother.
During the 2017 Vuelta, when he crashed out of the race with a broken elbow, he literally gave me every single bit of kit, equipment and advice he possibly could before flying home. It was one of the most generous and genuine acts of kindness I have known, at one of his lowest moments – and it brought me close to tears. I wouldn’t have survived the Vuelta without him.
As Larry donated his entire bag of precious sharks sweeties to me on Col de L’Iseran yesterday, I couldn’t help thinking that it was purely as a way of helping me that he has joined me on this trip. This is why I can’t let him hang around at the top of this climb and must press on: I’m not letting him down, even if I am carrying half of the friggin supermarket in my pannier.
We still can’t really believe we are doing this in all honesty. I mean: we cycled our bikes all the way here from Nice? Last week we had a team, race program and plans for the future, now we are smashing it up Cormet de Roselend with a maxi-size pack of cookies strapped to my bike – and a €40 pair of sandals for which my girlfriend, Stacey, will never forgive me.
I had to buy the sandals today in Bourg St Maurice after my last pair fell off my saddle bag descending Colle delle Finestre on day two. It was a tragic loss, which I still mourn.
The funny thing is, finding a pair of sandals that fit me in a crappy shoe store on the outskirts of Bourg made me so happy. It was as if I’d won a race. Above all else, this is my favourite thing about riding bicycles: you appreciate the little things.
It doesn’t matter who you are. When you’re tired, hungry and about to zone out up the Col de I-don’t-even-know-anymore and someone gives you a bag of sweets, you know you’ve made friends for life.
Anyway, this is how I feel about Larry Warbasse.
However, as I write this in our hotel room atop the Cormet de Roselend, Larry is route planning. And he’s just told me: ‘Dude, I don’t want to be a slave driver but I think we need to do at least six hours tomorrow’.
There are still five days to go on our #NoGoTour. That means plenty more Cols to push him off if things get rocky. I will keep you updated!
Larry and Conor’s Great Adventure blogs