The last year has been very tough in multiple ways. Lockdowns meant the kids were home from school a lot so spare time was at a premium, and then I separated from my wife and had to find somewhere to live, move everything across and start again. Now though I feel like I can start again. The children have gone back to school and there is more routine to my life, so I can try and work out some kind of training plan to return to fitness.
The number of times I’ve properly cycled since my last entry is maybe not even to double figures. I had massive struggles with my mental health which meant I cycled less. Cycling was always one method I had for dealing with stress so it meant things got pretty bad. I’m happier now than I have been in a long time, perhaps ever.
I’m doing London-Southend this weekend. It feels a bit like jumping in at the deep end! I went for a 40km ride last weekend just to see how my legs would feel. My legs were OK but other areas were feeling a bit sore! It was very windy too, so I think Sunday should be fine: it should be more sheltered and I’ll be riding with friends so can get a bit of a tow.
I went for a mountain bike ride a couple of weeks ago with a friend. It’s such a different discipline to road cycling. I was not confident riding down hills when the ground is not solid! It was fun though and I’m going to try and head off-road a bit more in the winter months.
I didn’t cycle much at the start of the year as I had a nasty cold which included a lot of coughing. Not conducive to performing well on a bike! The irony is that my cycling has increased massively since the lockdown began. I’ve no other outlets for exercise as capoeira and boot camp are no longer on, and I’ve rediscovered the joy of cycling.
There are some mechanical issues. The chain rings on the Carrera TdF need replacing, but they don’t seem to be individually fitted so I think the whole crank needs replacing, something I’m not sure I’m up to. I’ll take another look later in the year, but for now I’ve simply swapped to the Ribble. The warm weather has coincided nicely with the lockdown! However, the chain and cassette need replacing, I’ve ordered the parts but there’s been a bit of a delay witih the retailer despatching them – fair enough given the circumstances.
I think I’m going to order some new sunglasses soon, as the prescription insert on my current ones is practically falling part – there’s only so much superglue I can put on it! I think a new helmet is due as well, as the clasp is starting to fall apart. It’s not urgent so I’ll keep an eye out for any offers.
On the family side, Rory has finally learned how to cycle without stabilisers. I got him a new bike for his birthday and something has finally clicked – we managed a 6km ride with me and the children last week, and Rory has discovered the joy of cycling downhill. I look forward to some more family rides, especially if the lockdown continues into the summer.
As I’ve done for the past few years now, I took my eldest son Nicky to see the Six Day Cycling at the Lee Valley Velodrome. We’ve enjoyed previous years and were looking forward to seeing some great sprint action given the quality of the line-up – Viviani, Ewan and Cav aren’t too shabby! We went on the Tuesday and mostly enjoyed it. Nicky had a go on the turbo trainer race and beat his opponent, so won a BMC cycling cap!
There was a new addition to this year’s proceedings – a Zwift race featuring the young riders. Imagine organising an event in one of the world’s best velodromes, then getting the audience to squint at a screen in the distance to watch virtual racing. Sounds great, right?
I honestly struggle to remember a time when I was more bored. It was impossible to follow who was winning. We also had no idea how long it was supposed to last for. Many people in the crowd gave up and left at this point.
I had enjoyed the rest of the evening but wrote a complaint on Twitter just to offer my feedback. I hadn’t expected any kind of response but Six Day were kind enough to offer me complimentary tickets to the final Sunday session which I was very happy to accept!
The Sunday session was brilliant – our seats were on the start/finish straight and there was a great atmosphere, helped by Cav and Doull being near the top of the leaderboard.
It was great to watch the final Madison with Cav and Doull in with a shout of winning, but in the end Viviani and his teammate were just too strong. I guess if you’re going to have a gold bike, you need to make sure your performance merits it!
I spent ages looking at gravel bikes but decided rather than spending a lot I’d be better off waiting, so in the meantime I’ve bought a mountain bike to replace my bike-shaped object. Thanks to a Black Friday offer, I’m now the proud owner of a Scott Aspect 750 (2019)!
I had been looking at the Calibre Two Cubed, but due to some stock issues and hassle with Go Outdoors I opted for the Scott instead. It was £349 reduced from £549. I’ve been out a couple of times and rediscovered my love of cycling. Really looking forward to taking it off-road in the near future! Of course, the main reasons for buying it were because my other bike was too small, and this will allow me to cycle alongside the kids on their bikes.
I need some kind of target to aim for, because for one reason or another I’m not cycling enough. Either I have too much going on (work, family time, other exercise) or I’m too tired. I’m missing that extra motivation that comes with having a big event to aim for. With this in mind, I’m going to start looking for a triathlon to do next year. I’m 40 next year and I always wanted to try and do a triathlon before then. It’s more likely to be a sprint triathlon than a full-on Olympic one, but we’ll see.
The major barrier is the run – I’m pretty sure I could get my swimming up to scratch, and cycling would not be an issue, but I always worry about my right calf. Running seems to make it hurt and I’ve pulled it a couple of times. It’s been like this for a couple of years – I remember it hurting at Glastonbury 2017 – so if it’s still like this at Christmas I’m going to have to find a physio.
I’ve been on one decent length ride in the past couple of months. I went out with a friend who hasn’t been out on his shiny new road bike much, so the pace was fairly relaxed, and we did a little exploring too.
The ride featured my first ever coffee stop in seven and a half years of being a cyclist!
The days have started getting colder and wetter so I’ve made the switch to the Carrera. I still need to swap the saddles over, but that’ll only matter if I go for a long ride. At the moment it’s only used for getting to the gym and back.
My bike shaped object (the Firefox Ranger) has always felt too small for me, and recently it’s started hurting my knees whenever I ride it. I only use it when I’m riding with the kids, but as they get older and can go further I’m looking at getting another bike. I’m thinking of getting an adventure bike, one that could replace the Ranger and the Carrera. Long-term I’d like to go touring and off-road, so getting a decent adventure bike now would hopefully sort me out for life! I’ve been looking at the steel Ribble CGR which has had good reviews. It’s the kind of thing I could research forever I think!
I’ve not done anywhere near enough exercise this month. After my brief flurry of activity at the start of the month, things have quietened down considerably. Annoyingly the school sports days were all scheduled at the time I would normally go to circuit training so I missed a few days one week, and I’ve just returned from holiday. I did a lot of walking on holiday (I managed 10,000 steps every single day last week) but only properly exercised once – a quick run on the beach:
Hopefully things will return to normal soon. I’ve definitely noticed the difference that all the weights and training have made to my body – I’m in much better shape than I was last year, I still have a slight belly but if I breath in there’s actually muscle definition there! I’m going to try and shift the last of it by Christmas. I’m not massively worried about the way my body looks (although it is a pleasant side-effect) – the main consideration is that I want my clothes to fit properly, right now I’m kind of halfway between 32″ and 34″ with various brands measuring up differently. My t-shirts have also started getting tighter in all the right places. I need to overhaul my wardrobe but it’s not ideal to do so whilst my body keeps changing shape!
Tour de France
Up until halfway through this year’s Tour it was the most exciting it has been since I started taking an interest (2009). Everything was balanced nicely and there was no runaway leader. Unfortunately the bad weather conditions meant they had to shorten a stage. I understand why they did so but I think they should have neutralised the stage rather than take the results at the top of the penultimate col. Kruijswijk still had a team-mate and was looking good, and Thomas would surely have come back too. Bernal might well have won anyway but the way it happened was very anti-climactic. I was gutted when Pinot had to pull out as well.
It was even worse because where I was staying on holiday had very poor mobile coverage, so I was trying to follow the race on Twitter (livestreaming gave up after 5 seconds!) Luckily stage 19 was broadcast on 5 Live Sports Extra so I did get to follow some of it ‘live’.