Monday, 27 October 2014

Back out on the road!

View from the back!

Far from fully recovered after my hospital visit I was still determined to get some miles under my belt before a week away in Rome. So I coughed and spluttered my way around the roads of West Sussex for 3 hours; hanging on at the back of the group, desperately drafting to stay with the wheels.

After a week of Pasta and Pizza I should return fighting fit and ready for action. Which is lucky since the first Sunday back will be the second Gorrick Autumn race at Crowthorne.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Break in Proceedings

Just as everything was looking rosey and my training was going well, life pulls the rug from under my feet again! This week I had hoped to put in some good base training miles before a week off on holiday in Rome. 

Monday started out to plan, nearly 40 miles chalked up on the usual commute. That evening I sat down for my evening dinner and a piece of chicken wedged in my throat. After spending the entire night in the Queen Alexandra A&E department I was admitted for surgery and have spent the last few days on a drip unable to eat solids. 

The way this year is going I think I should take out a season ticket with the NHS! 

I am home now and hopeful I might try and get out on the bike before flying to Italy. The past few weeks I really felt I was coming into form.  In the grand scheme of things it probably doesn't make much difference, but it is frustrating to think I will be sitting out two weeks.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Incentive to ride

After such a long beautiful summer it is getting to that time of year when the commute to work isn’t quite as enjoyable. Nevertheless I still find the incentive to step out into the dark on a wet autumn morning.

I find one of my biggest motivators is found on the days I decide to take the car. I experience a really strong feeling of guilt and also a pang of envy as I drive past the cyclists who have made the effort. Seeing the familiar faces I normally nod too as I pedal the other way, is enough to ensure I am out there with them the next day.

It might sound counter intuitive but I have far more energy on days when I ride to the office. I arrive with vitality, ready for the day ahead. I use the time on the bike to plan my day so I arrived prepped and ready to go. The cycle commute gives me time alone with my thoughts with no external pressures. In comparison the commute by car is a stressful and frustrating experience. I have been working in Portsmouth for nearly 8 years and the increase in traffic means the car journey is taking noticeably longer than it once did. The choice of 45 hectic minutes in the car is starting to lose its main advantage of extra time in bed, when compared to 60 minutes on the bike. In truth there is still a 30 minute difference once you factor in the shower and change of clothes, but I’d rather sacrifice those 30 minutes in bed for a better state of body and mind.

Apart from the personal enjoyment I get from riding a bike, my competitive nature means racing is an important outlet for my personal ambitions. Chasing improved results is a constant objective that can only be achieved by spending time on the bike and maintaining my fitness. Maybe it is my age, or fatherhood, but this has become less important to me recently than it was a few years ago. I have now reached a point where I ride as often as is feasible, while maintaining  a happy home life balance. Increased or more focused training would undoubtedly lead to improved results, but at the moment there isn’t the desire or commitment to make the sacrifices this would require. I am happy knowing what level of cyclist I am, without constantly proving it on the race track. Perhaps in a few years when I hit the Veterans (40+) class I might find the drive to focus again on specific racing goals. 

The final challenge and targets for me are personal cycling achievements. I have recorded every ride I have done since my teenage years nearly 20 years ago. Every month this provides me with a target to beat. During 2014 I have bettered my previous best totals of miles and ride time for six of the nine months. I am currently out on the road and trails chasing down my highest total annual mileage of  6770 miles and 450 hours. Can I make it to 7000 miles?

Other ‘bucket list’ cycling objectives are a multi stage mountain bike race and I still dream of reaching the Mediterranean under my own power. Staying fit and in the saddle is a step towards one day making these dreams a reality.

In truth I don’t really need motivation to ride a bike. The simple pleasure I get, when I am fit and healthy, of powering a bicycle across the countryside is incentive enough.

Monday, 6 October 2014

South Downs Bikes Club Ride

On the first Monday of every month South Downs Bikes host an off-road ride. It is open to all, and has recently been attracting in excess of 50+ riders. I can remember a few years ago, when on a rainy night it might just be 5 or 6 of us ducking out into the gloom from behind the old shop. 

The social aspect of the ride makes for an enjoyable evening. It's a chance to catch-up with other club members or meet new riders. We share stories of recent races or rides, discuss training, talk bikes and very occasionally we might mention non-cycling topics too!

With such a big peleton we usually split at the top of the first climb into three sub-groups and head our different ways. This month the fast group thrashed around the Whiteways singletrack before a team timetrial back to the shop! A stream of headlights blazing a path through the woods.

When we get back to Storrington Martin lays on food for everyone free of charge. In the summer months this if frequently a BBQ, sometimes a curry and occasionally fish 'n' chips! This month however it was pizza, cooked freshly onsite in a mobile Pizza oven. Fantastic!

Thats me sitting with my back to the camera tucking into a slice of Pepperoni Pizza