Well, here we are, only about three weeks since my last post on cycling, and things have rather moved on… As mentioned before, I did finally go out and buy a shiny new bicycle. And really, it’s lovely. I went slightly over my initial budget, but that’s OK – I’ll just have a couple of skint months (errrm, starting tomorrow. Last nights epic curry doesn’t count). The main effect of having a decent bike to ride is that my lunchtime rides have gone from ~18kms to somewhere between 20 and 25, depending on how lost I get. And when I’ve had the time, I’ve been putting in some longer rides, culminating in a 75km ride on Sunday, which was hugely enjoyable.
Aside from all this bimbling around in my on time enjoying the scenery and fresh air, I also entered a local time trial. This is the first competitive thing I’ve done since I finished motorcycle racing back in 2005 – and if you can be bothered reading through that lot, you’ll notice that I’m not really a particularly competitive person. You’ll also notice that I wasn’t a particularly good motorcycle racer either, but that never stopped me enjoying it. So I was a bit unsure of what to expect from racing a bicycle – both in terms of results and enjoyment. One thing that was certain though was that I was not taking this as seriously as, um, everyone else there. I felt wonderfully out of place, lining up for the start in my baggy shorts, ill-fitting freebie T-shirt, Converse Chuck Taylors and with my drinks bottle and puncture repair kit still attached to the bike. Everyone around me was wearing tight lycra, pointy helmets, clippy shoes and had eye-wateringly expensive looking carbon fibre and titanium bikes. This isn’t meant as an excuse, as it was also bloody obvious that they were all a lot fitter and stronger than me too. However, I completed the 5 mile (why the bloody hell do we do these things in miles, not kilometres? I may as well be riding a penny farthing) course in a little over 15 minutes, at an average of just over 30km/h. The faster riders seemed to be about three minutes quicker than this, which I find rather difficult to comprehend. I’ve no idea where in the field I finished, as like I said before, I’m not that competitive and couldn’t be bothered to hang around and find out when I could just as easily ride home for a nice cup of tea.
Did I enjoy it? Yes. Will I do another one? Maybe. I’m enjoying the long rides by myself far more than the 15 minutes of hell-for-leather chasing the second hand around a stopwatch to get back to where I started, but I’ll probably do a few more this year. I just don’t really get that inspired by the chasing numbers aspect of cycling (or anything else for that matter). For me, the enjoyment at the moment comes more from the peace and tranquility of pottering around The Fens by myself, in my own time, with no planned course and no schedule. See? Told you I wasn’t competitive.
I do have one more organised event planned, which I think will be more my cup of tea than a time trial. I’m taking part in the Suffolk Villages Charity Ride in a few weeks, riding 75kms to raise money for the British Heart Foundation. If you fancy sponsoring me, let me know. Again, we seem to be stuck in the 19th century, as the organising charity doesn’t have any method of online donating. I’m surprised that they don’t measure the distance in bushels, pikes, chains, fathoms or whatever.