I packed a ride yesterday. It wasn't the first I've ever packed, and it won't be the last.
There are all sorts of reasons for packing. The obvious one is when your bike breaks in half, or is assailed by some other terminal mechanical situation. These barely need discussion - beyond the one or two legendary cases where randonneurs have tracked down a local Smithy and had their frame re-welded; or have made some other amazing comeback.
I was on a ride once where the rear wheel of the rider in front of me folded in half for no immediately apparent reason. "It's alright." he said, and pointed "That's my house over there." whereupon he slung his unwell bike over his shoulder and strode off to his garage for a replacement. Jammy sod
No, the Packing I'm talking about involves the rider - not the ridden. That voice in your head. The nasty little horned devil sitting on your shoulder whispering in your ear - "There's no need to carry on. Your RRTY is safe for this month. It's going to rain later. You are near a railway station...".
This is what separates the men from the boys and... erm... the women from the girls. Getting past that point of no return when all you want to do is return - to base.
It's a mental thing, I'm sure of that (Yes, audax is mental - you've only just noticed? Ed). Last week I did the hardest ride I've ever done in my short audax career - the Midlander Super Grimpeur. That voice was giving it welly as I entered a mentally dark place on the climb up to Axe Edge Moor. "Find a B&B at Longnor. You'll never make it - it's still 90km to go after Longnor, and you know it won't be flat...". I resisted that, despite great pain and discomfort at the time, and finished the ride. The ride had been on my plan for this year for a long time - it meant a lot to me, and I was highly motivated.
Yesterday, I was riding a much easier ride - a DIY 400 encompassing the Dunwich Dynamo. After 100km and five hours of waiting for the cyclist in me to turn up, I packed at a convenient railway station and went home. The ride was expendable. I didn't need it for some long targetted achievement and I got to the stage where I didn't see any point carrying on.
So is that it? Does it all come down to motivation?