I should warn you all that this is likely to be the start of a few posts about cycling over the next couple of months as I gear (like what I did there?) up for Tour o’ the Borders in August. Two weeks ago I finally accepted that cycling 12 miles a day on my commute was unlikely to prepare me that well for 55 miles and 3615ft of climbing and looked for a training plan. The mate I am doing it with has done a lot more cycling than me and is strong on her bike (and strong mentally, she has the ability to just keep going which I really admire) but she is also a social whirlwind meaning long training rides with her are unlikely to happen. So I have had to strike out on my own and I have found out something…I love cycling. I sang that Pharell Williams song ‘Happy’ as I cycled up and through East Lothian for 20 miles last Saturday, it probably helped that the sun was shining that day and I had been out riding earlier on and had enjoyed a great riding experience.
Last weekend was tough as I actually covered around 50 miles in two days (not a lot for a seasoned cyclist but a fair whack for me), this week I have done two twenty mile cycles so far alongside my normal commute and combined with two sets of horse riding I am pretty knackered but the changes have started already. I have started to notice my legs are becoming stronger and I think I can see more muscle definition on them. I have started to think more about my positioning on the bike, using my muscles more and ensuring that I don’t have a “death grip” on my handlebars. The training plan I have also gives tips of things to focus on each week and this week it has been balance and co-ordination, haha not sure I have either of those – check out my horse riding posts for proof, and I like that aspect of it as it helps me feel I am building bike handling skills as well as my muscles. 🙂 I haven’t managed to do any tempo work or threshold work as suggested so that still needs worked on, I might go to a spin class to achieve that more regularly. All in all though it has been fun.
A downside to cycling does mean that I am running less, I need to start to motivate myself here again even if it is just to get out for 3 miles a couple of times a week. I miss my running buddies!
It also feels like I have an ever growing list of “things to buy”, I joke about the little consumer screaming inside me to buy, buy, buy and I am finding it difficult to resist. However, I think there are a couple of cycling-specific things I need to invest in:
- A water bottle which I can drink from while cycling, currently I am using an ordinary bottle and have to stop to drink
- A cycling jersey, or some form of cycling top that has a pocket so that I can carry food and not have to stop to eat – that aspect is really only for the sportive, let’s face it normally I am going to stop, frankly if I have the chance I will stop in a cafe with macaroni cheese.
- Panniers, not for the sportive (although could be handed to carry my macaroni cheese and camping stove 🙂 ), these would be really great for the rides out to the stables and my commute.
Ideally I want to try and do my consume less and more wisely principles on these and have been looking at Howies for both the cycling jersey and the water bottle although also scouring the ever-popular eBay for the jersey and panniers too.
So let me introduce you to Cadfael the cdf (named after Ellis Peters famous crime solving monk from the 12th century), my trusty steed for this one and I am looking forward to this challenge.