Posts Tagged ‘weather’

The perfect ride

The Downs, from the crest of the bank.

Ah. How many times do I have to ride in the cold, wet and grey before I get a day like this? Yesterday was a cheat-the-week classic: 3 hours, 45 miles or so, plenty of hills, bits of tempo. I was test-riding the new Easton EA90 SLXs (of which more later), it was warm enough for a single layer, traffic was sparse, my legs felt strong.

My girlfriend asked me, as I was pulling on my lycra after lunch:

Shouldn’t you be working?

My answer was yes, I probably should. However I have a real problem not riding when I’m inside and the sun starts shining. This may be the one factor that prevents me becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg: when he was coding, I was out riding.

Riding comes first. I realised this 45 minutes into the ride, as I broke my first sweat of the day, and heard my phone ringing from my jersey pocket. It was a call from a client. I knew who it was – I had even asked them to call that afternoon, before I decided to go riding. I listened to the call ring off, imagining the testy voicemail, the urgent deadline reminder. At the sound of the message alert I kicked up a gear, filled my chest with air, and rode on into the afternoon sunshine.

Cycling is higher up in my pyramid of needs than work. Naturally, I need some work to have money to buy a bike in the first place – but if you offered me 50% extra salary with no more riding, or even with only 1 ride permitted per fortnight, I’d turn you down flat. I need to ride. Riding bikes has been something fixed in me since I was a young boy. Cycling has been a hobby, then a pursuit, then an obsession. Sometimes it’s a yoke I feel compelled to put my shoulders into (training – it has to happen, lots of it).

Sometimes I wonder if I could ever sit inside on a sunny day with a bike waiting to be ridden, and just not ride. Currently it’s not possible.

Tears in the rain

I made only 5 commute legs last week, but on every single one I got drenched. Standing at my side gate on Thursday evening, fumbling with a set of keys, I turned to look at the rain drizzling around a street lamp, and recalled Blade Runner.

January

My goal this January is to ride for more days / hours than last January.

In Jan 09 I had 15 days or 21 hours of some on-bike activity, 10 hours of which were commute days, and the others being regular winter training rides on the road. So far, I’ve already racked up 4 days and 7 hours, so hopefully, weather permitting, this should be an easily achievable goal. However, the weather isn’t exactly permitting – it’s the coldest winter for 30 years.

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Hey - nice!

Another comparison with last year is that I’m starting it lighter. In Jan 09 I was a stocky 11st 12 – this year I’m probably around 11st 5-6 (lighter than I was in March last year). True, my form is fairly rubbish, but one thing about starting a third year of serious riding is a certain mental confidence. I’m more in tune with my own fitness levels after several seasons of waxing and waning form. I know what’s required of me come July, and I know that my body will respond to the training in due course – better, even, than in years past, because your legs do remember.

In addition to the riding, I’m building in plenty of core work now. I realised too late last year that my core muscles (abs, back and hip flexors) needed to be stronger to avoid fatigue on long, hard rides. I would go into the exercises in detail but Millsy’s already done it for me.

Sunday forecast

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Oh great. 112 miles in the drizzle.

February: shocking start, improving steadily

Last week was a bad one. The harsh weather was dragging on, the fall on the ice near Buckland was painful, and I was prevented from even a cautious commute by further sleet and cold winds.

But then, the weather started looking up. I put in 2 hours on Saturday – some brisk intervals around Regent’s Park – followed by a 6-hour epic on the Sunday, starting in Brixton and heading out to Cobham and the North Downs via Richmond Park, then returning all the way up to Archway. I followed this with 2 days of commuting, and another good session this morning – of which more later.

The sight of this weather forecast was truly a morale boost:

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Epsom 45-miler


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Rode this last Sunday with Joe, who was over for a Christmas visit. It came after 5 days of parties and not much sleep, and the temperature was sub-zero: the water in our bottles was slush after a couple of hours. We completed it in 3 hours.

I am now ill and missing out on this weekend’s training!