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WORDS: Max Leonard
‘Petrichor’ was coined by two Australian researchers writing in the journal Nature in 1964, deriving its meaning from the Greek words petra, ‘stone’, and ichor, the mythical fluid that flows through the veins of the gods (and some cyclists). Petrichor: the smell of rain hitting dry ground.
After a hot and dry April and May, riding in the rain has been something of a relief. Undifferentiated conditions – even good ones – can sap the enthusiasm, and this unseasonal weather also helps measure progress, providing a yardstick by which to judge how the sunny kilometres have improved the lungs and legs since the dark days earlier in the year. There’s a psychological aspect too.
Perversely, a rainy spell has improved my motivation. It is a reminder that riding is not only fun: there is a point to this training, and a little unpleasantness now is good mental and physical preparation for the tough times ahead – climbing the mountains, crossing the line.
Most important is the sensory kick, whether I was on a rain-lashed road across a firing range in Wales, watching the SAS out on training manoeuvres, or just pelting around Regent’s Park, that thick mineral odour smells good.
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