Longer, harder, stronger, faster

When I started serious bicycle riding a few months ago, the aim was simple. Lose a few kilos, and increase my stamina, purely to improve my climbing ability. And in this respect, it has been a very successful exercise, with my weight down by about 7kgs, and my climbing up a grade or two. So, why am I still doing it?

It’s pretty simple really. I’m really enjoying the cycling for it’s own sake. Since the last note I’ve decided that Time Trials really aren’t for me, and I almost certainly won’t enter another, as I just don’t enjoy the frantic chasing of the second hand around a stopwatch. I’m not a sprinter in any aspect of life, I prefer to take my time over things and savour the moments that they bring. So, I’ve been concentrating on longer rides when I get the time. I completed the Suffolk Villages 75km ride a few weeks ago (which was actually 80kms. The last five kms involved a lot of swearing when I realised that the finish line wasn’t where I expected it to be) which was at that point, my longest ride to date, and I was pleased to keep up a consistent pace without any drama. Well, no drama other than a large bee getting stuck behind my glasses and stinging me on the eyelid. Still, that was a new experience for me, as I’d never been stung by a bee before, so now I know that I’m not allergic to them anyway. Since then I’ve done a couple more long weekend rides, culminating in 100kms yesterday around the lanes of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire with Andy, which was hugely enjoyable, other than the puncture.

And so, given that I’ve kind of defaulted to longer distance rides, and that despite my non-competitive nature I like organised events, I’ve decided to have a go at a few cyclosportive events. The first of these is planned for September, and is 150kms around Essex. For next year, I’m planning something a bit more, um, adventurous.L’Étape du Tour is the plan. Which will involve lots of training, much of it on hills. Quite how I’m going to manage this, living in The Fens, I am not sure – my current method is to wait until it’s really windy, and then go out and ride into a headwind. I’ll also try and get a couple of weekends up in The Peak District for some hill training as well. Whatever happens, it will be an adventure. And even if I don’t complete it, I get to spend a few days in the mountains of the South of France, which is never a bad thing.

But, having made all these plans for longer and harder rides, the thing that really keeps me going, the thing that keeps me grinding away into a howling headwind after 90kms across The Fens, is planning to climb L’Arête ouest, back in the Gorge de la Jonte. And for that, I’m going to need to be fitter than I was last time I went.