And we are back!
What a couple of weeks it has been, both from a cycling perspective and a personal perspective. Not to mention, Boris’s Roadmap.
2 weeks ago, despite being in my own mind ‘relatively fit’, I hadn’t ridden a single 100km ride since January 2020 and I hadn’t ridden a single 100 mile ride since June 2017.
I found myself talking to some friends after a 50km ride a few weeks back saying I thought I would be ‘OK’ on LEJOG. This was based on how I felt from a 50km ride and extrapolating out the distance and elevation to conclude ‘how bad can it be?’ When you consider you have 12 hours (7am-7pm) and my 50km would likely take me just under 2 hours, there was room in my mind for some naivety. Let me tell you know, this way of thinking, is dangerous.
And it is this way of thinking that has led me in the past to make, let’s say, less favourable decisions. For me, I think everyone is capable of a little devilment, ‘reckless mischief’ if you will, some more so than others, but this way of thinking and the way I allow myself to arrive at certain decisions is my devilment.
To provide some examples;
1. Popping out for one beer results in a night out (pre COVID);
2. I decide to take things easy one month and save some money. The next thing you know the delivery man is at the door with a new TV, a PS5 and new cycling kit;
3. I book onto LEJOG and then also decide after completing only 6 months of yoga to investigate a yoga teaching course (at a cost of £3000).
Drop the devil
After a short break, I have in the last couple of weeks restarted my meditating course which I complete through a popular app. It is brilliant. Allowing yourself that time in the day to just sit and (attempt) to clear the mind is fantastic. It’s really helped me with my cycling, during both those longer training sessions or those sessions on the turbo trainer where it’s simply you, the bike and 4 walls. I have now learnt to realise when I am unfocused or allowing that little bit of devilment to pop in and say hello. The skill to recognise this is already having a positive impact.
I recognise that whilst I have developed a serious enjoyment for yoga and all of the associated benefits, a 200 hour yoga course which requires 4-5 hours of practice and lectures most weekends between now and December is likely not a rationale decision to take. I do have LEJOG to train for as well as carry on planning and getting excited for our wedding. I also doubt Sophie would be delighted at the fact she would suddenly be looking after Winston almost single handedly. Could I have my reckless decision making in check?
Secondly, 2 weeks ago I set out to complete a 100km. As I mentioned above; the first one in over 12 months. I must say, I wasn’t too nervous about it. After all the sun was shining, the wind wasn’t too aggressive and I was easily capable of doing 60km. I also took on confidence that I have done 100km numerous times before. Looking at when I had last ridden 100km, you can see the devilment appearing again, but there was more.
I did something on this ride I never usually do.
I had my radio playing on my phone. What could go wrong hey? I was 75km in and had just ascended one of the steepest hills around. Topping out at 20%, the ‘Col de Hen’ as its known on Strava, is most definitely a tough climb. At the top, after polishing off half a sausage roll, I decided I needed to turn up the music a little bit. Who could refuse when McFlys ‘5 colours in her hair’ had just started. Pressing the volume button to turn it up I suddenly heard a loud siren coming from my phone!! Stopping at pace and frantically trying to reach for the phone, a task made more difficult thanks to my fabulous (just not on this occasion) thick winter gloves, certainly had me sweating double time. I looked down at the screen which informed me ‘my emergency contacts are being contacted, swipe here to stop.’ The only option was to use my tongue to lick the slider across my iPhone to stop the notification. Ridiculous scenes.
Screen licked, the panic over, I placed the phone back into jersey and off I pedalled for the remaining 25km. Within 5 seconds of setting off my phone begins to ring. Stressed now, who could this be? Mum, Dad or Sophie? Probably calling to ask if I am OK after receiving a panic call? Not on this occasion. “Hello there, this is Northamptonshire Police, we received a 999 call from this phone, is everything OK, do you need emergency help.” Embarrassment cant do justice to how I felt. It was a little wrap on the knuckles from the Police and I will now not be altering any volume controls whilst moving nor for that fact listening to the radio whilst cycling.
Cycling with Angels and resetting the mindset
Today, I set out with a positive mindset and a goal. 100 miles. I set off at 08:30, sun shining, the sun rays passing through the tree branches, interacting with some early morning mist, resulting in a simply mystical setting for the early part of the ride.
Cycling along today I was focussed on my cycling, but also tuned into my body. I was trying to learn how I feel at different parts of the ride: when I need to eat, drink, stop for a stretch etc. I was delighted to reach a lovely farm shop at 75km for a much needed double espresso and scotch egg. I took a sausage roll for later in the ride. A few kilometres before the stop I took on ‘Newnham Hill’, a categorised 1.96Km climb that averages 5.6% which the Pro Women fly up in 4 mins or so; my PB is 7 mins. I know there are far more climbs with much more elevation but on this route, the sky closer with every pedal. Looking out over the country side at the summit; head in the clouds; I felt I was spinning with angels.
I am sure as I continue my training more lessons will become clear but I have learnt a lot in these past couple of weeks;
1. Improved decision making and realising when my mind is being distracted;
2. I know how my body reacts during long rides;
3. I am learning when and what to eat and drink to keep the pedals turning;
4. Most of all, I have learnt to ride the road I am on. Not get too hung up with future climbs or future challenges. Enjoy being in that moment, if its tough, it will ease. If it is all going well, recognise it won’t last forever and soak up the good times.
I almost forgot to mention, Boris. Boris’s roadmap give’s us hope that we were nearly there. Soon we can restart the lives we want to live. All restrictions lifted on June 21st 2021. Brilliant, Brilliant news. Or not.
Our wedding was due to happen on the 19th June 2021. 2 days before the complete lifting of restrictions. To say there was a few tears and some strong conversations would possibly be an understatement but again, two focussed minds made a decision and executed the task perfectly.
Sophie and I, also learnt this week, how to replan an entire wedding within 24 hours. A task I will never do again!
Anyway, its time to put the feet up and learn how to effectively recover. This is the next key lesson needed for RAB. The thought of doing what I have done today for another 8 days is a little daunting but I am sure that I have the both the physicality and mentality to do it. The biggest thing is to learn how to rest and recover between days.
Until next time, stay safe and stay positive! Matt.