The Long And Winding Road

When I returned to cycling I did so as a way of keeping fit, it was a way of mixing up exercise between jogging and the gym, not intended as anything else but the twists and turns of life offer different routes with unexpected destinations and embracing the opportunities that present themselves is all part of the puzzle. To start with the initial off-road weekend training rides sufficed but a preference for road cycling in my youth was always there below the surface and when my son emerged from the MTB dark side I had a good reason to take to the roads again and a good excuse for a new bike.

IMG_0253Having bought the bike the next step was to get out riding and this was the enjoyable bit which coincided with the Tour De France and The Olympics. Watching a bit of cycling on the telly does wonders for the enthusiasm and we were all introduced to the concept of marginal gains, the science of looking at small savings to add to overall performance. Could I employ this tactic in an effort to keep up with son David on our weekend rides.

Well I am certainly not going to be shaving my legs, I have round wheels so I obviously need to look at reducing the weight of individual components by a few grammes but this paled into insignificance by the extra 7kg I was carrying and as that was a weight reduction that was unlikely  to happen I was going to have to be content with my lot as is.

The summer enthusiasm continued with my first sportive and on completion the post ride debrief in the pub that evening saw the alcohol committing me to a coast to coast ride.  All agreed it was a good idea but as it was not for another six months it was out of sight and out of mind and thankfully I went home before the ale had me agreeing to cycling round the world.

My internet research into training programmes revealed a link to Rule 5* that says Harden up matey or Google “the rules of cycling ” for the unabridged version but the premise is if you want to do well you need to toughen up and as lots of people cycle big mileage I thought I would try a period of serious training in preparation for the big event.

Cycling over the winter period was difficult with the awful weather but I persevered and having recently retired this meant I could get out when I saw an opportunity. The near daily deliveries from Wiggle was beginning to add up to a considerable investment in water and windproof kit but still probably cheaper than a gym membership.

The beginning of March saw the training peak we me taking to the bike most days of the week in an effort to prepare and at about week three while showering after a ride I thought I would frighten the bathroom scales. Placing them just in front of the wash basin where you get the lowest reading I was astounded to see I had lost 7 lbs. I checked by moving the scales around the bathroom even tapping them to make sure they had not stuck. For 25 years I had been unsuccessfully trying to shift a few pounds with various diets but I always had great difficulty keeping my head out of the trough and now without starving myself I seemed to be achieving it. I had reduced alcohol intake to the odd pint at weekends and a glass of wine midweek and this result spurred me on to take a fresh look at my diet. I  always told myself that broken biscuits didn’t contain calories and chocolate was OK if you ate it all in one sitting and anyway all this calorie control zeros the counter again at midnight. The hard truth is that if you burn more calories than you consume the weight reduces and with this improvement comes a wish to carry on to see what you can achieve. I no longer wander round looking for a chocolate hobnob or that cold sausage stuck to the plate in the fridge.

The unexpected benefits of cycling have been overwhelming and not just for me. I have lost weight, I feel fitter and my cycling pace and endurance has improved.  Wiggles profits have probably gone through the roof although I suspect Sainsburys have noticed the decline in alcohol and cake sales.

The C2C is now just two weeks away and although I have done the hard yards training I am praying we will not be defeated by mother nature and the present snow covering the Lake District will thaw in time.

Two years ago while casually pushing a heavy MTB through the local woods I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams returning to road cycling and pedalling the width of the country clad in lycra. It’s a funny old world!

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