On Friday evenings the boys and girls go out to play at the park.
I’ve decided that there is a reason why nothing ever seems to go to plan for me, and that’s because otherwise I wouldn’t have anything to blog about.
You may have read my tale about missing a time trial last week due to an impromptu dog rescue. (If you haven’t, and you want to, it’s at the end of this post.) This week, I tried again. I made it to the TT with plenty of time to spare. The 12 mile ride from home was lovely and sunny – and no stray dogs in sight. I signed up, pinned on my number and rode to the start line. Chatting to some friendly riders in the queue, I admitted this was my first time trial – “But you know the course, right?” was their response. Well, if “know the course” means have looked at it on a map, seen it goes 5 miles in a pretty straight line, turns around, and comes back 5 miles on the same road, then yes – I knew the course. How hard could it be?
A kind chap from the club organising the TT held my bike and gave me a push start. Looking back at my Strava stats, I rocketed straight up to 30mph but slowed down quickly after my speedy start. It was unforgivingly windy – I kept on the drops and tucked myself in as much as possible but I still felt like a giant kite trying to go the wrong way. As the guy who set off after me overtook me within the first couple of miles, I told myself that it wouldn’t have happened if I was wearing TT kit and riding a fancy bike…
I deliberately hadn’t set myself any kind of time target, I was just keeping in mind the advice of a friend: “if you’re not sick at the end, you didn’t go hard enough.” I pushed myself pretty hard, but I could have pushed much harder (..next time).
Another couple of riders overtook me in the second 5 miles, having looped around the last big roundabout and headed back up the road we’d come down. Despite that, I was feeling pretty good – it was fun, “I could do this again”, I thought. You may be wondering where the ‘not going to plan’ bit comes into play in this particular story. Well I wasn’t sick – which for a change was actually my aim, so I suppose that is a fail. But you’ve yet to hear the best bit…
I took a wrong turn.
Yes, I went the wrong way. On a time trial. When I had already cycled the same bit of road in the other direction.
I straight away realised what I’d done, did some swearing, pulled into a small road, turned around, ignored the cramp in my leg which had kicked in the minute I stopped pedalling, and went back to the roundabout – this time taking the correct exit. I’d guess it cost me 2 minutes max, probably less. Up until that point I’d been feeling really positive. “Lois you f***ing idiot” I muttered to myself, but kept going, and finished in one piece. A result of sorts.
Next week I’ll go the right way, and faster.
Six ways to know that Spring is here:
1. The bright white legs are making an appearance
I rode without leg warmers for the first time in a long time yesterday. Apologies to anyone passing me on the road who was blinded by the glare shining off my bright white legs.
2. More insects than normal are flying into my ears, nose, mouth and eyes
We all know that feeling: 35mph down a hill and a fly decides to make for your eyeball. Mostly blind, you’re suddenly aware of how fast you’re going and a lot of panicked blinking ensues. Now that Spring is here, there are wasps and bees competing for a space in your face, too. I’m very grateful for my sunglasses.
3. The roadsides are colourful
Daffodils. Lots of daffodils.
4. The fair weather cyclists are out in force
Suddenly there seem to be lots of Team Sky members riding around. I hadn’t realised there were so many of them! I thought I saw Wiggins yesterday – he’s getting a bit of a beer belly I tell you.
5. My instagram feed is even more full of photos than normal
When it’s warm and the sky is bluer and the grass is greener it’s hard to resist the urge to capture it all in a photo. Plus nobody likes stopping when it’s cold and rainy.
6. I can’t stop grinning
This can cause problems with swallowing flies (see ’2′) but other than that is no bad thing. Cycling with the sun on my back is enough to cheer me up on the worst of days. Pure simple joy.
Things have been a bit mad here since the start of #30daysofbiking but I’ve finally found some time, so here is a little round up of the first sixteen days…
Day One - Riding without stabilisers.
Ride: A 40 mile loop through the Ashdown Forest.
Rode to Groombridge where I ate lunch and lots of easter eggs with my family. I also rode half a mile with my cousins Josie (who can ride without stabilisers and has a dolly seat on her bike) and Tom (who is very nifty going over speed bumps on his micro-scooter).
Days Two, Three, Four and Five- Riding to work, mostly..
Rides: The short ride to work, and a couple of lunchtime errands.
Bikes: Claud and Annie
The good thing about no longer working from home is that my studio is now a 5/10 minute ride away. That little bit of time on the bike is the perfect separation between work and home.
Day Six- Coffee, cake and an eclectic collection of bicycles.
Ride: A seafront ride to Shoreham and back.
7 of us rode to Shoreham for coffee – two road bikes (belonging to Sid and Gill), one single speed (that would be Annie), one mountain bike (John’s), one Isla bike (Fynn’s) and one bike with a trike on the back (the combined leg power of Mandy and Cain). Love it.
Day Seven – Vulpine collisions and crash-filled racing
Ride: Night ride and a trip to Chertsey (by car, sorry) to help out at the racing
All the best lessons are learnt by making stupid judgements, in other words: the hard way. I missed a train and ended up riding to Lewes in the wee small hours of the morning. I was riding Annie, who is kitted out for city riding, and as such doesn’t have the kind of lights which illuminate the pitch black cycle path on the side of the A27. The end of this story is that a fox ran out in front of me, I slammed on the brakes and…ouch, over the handlebars I went. Luckily I was rescued by a sensible person who told me what a wally I was. Lesson learnt.
After some sleep I woke up only slightly bruised from the vulpine incident, and headed off to Chertsey to watch some friends racing. I ended up in the passenger seat of the Assistant Commissaire car, which was fun. The only bad thing about the day was that there were a LOT of crashes. Highlight: Team ASL360′s Anna Railton winning the women’s race :-)
Days Eight, Nine and Ten - If only I was one of those people who can cycle in a pencil skirt and heels.
Work was really, really busy until day 10. I had some important meetings and stuff that meant I didn’t get much riding in, other than the short trip to work. To make up for this, I took Thursday off for a day of bike……
Day Eleven - A love of gears and afternoon beers.
Ride: 32 miles of Sussex roads, with Monika.
Mon came down from London for the day, with her swanky new Genesis bike. We had lots of fun despite a few clippy-pedal-fail moments (not mine) and some wrong turns (mine). Mon’s been riding way longer than I have, but this is her first geared bike. What better way to celebrate than to find some hills to go up..and down :-)
We ended our Sussex ride in a Sussex pub, naturally.
Days Twelve and Thirteen - Just the short commute, again.
Day Fourteen – Good Lord, is that the SUN?!
Ride: 52 miles of glorious sunshine
There are fewer things better than making new friends – especially if they ride a bike! Carine had read the blog and spotted that I was organising a road ride – having recently bought a new road bike and rediscovered her love of cycling, she joined Claud and I for our Sunday ride. We had coffee, and tried not to get too over-excited about the blue skies. It turned out we needn’t have contained our excitement – because it turned out to be a stunning day.
We avoided the crowds of the Brighton Marathon by riding over Devil’s Dyke to Henfield, out to Partridge Green and then East through Hurstpierpoint and Hassocks to Ditchling, where we stopped for coffee and food. I think I had a grin on my face for pretty much the whole ride – you just can’t beat a sociable ride on a sunny day. Once we’d conquered a few last hills and got back to Brighton, I decided to make the most of the day and headed out for a few more miles on my own.
Day Fifteen - Ditchling Beacon has expanded in the heat.
Ride – Lewes to Brighton the painful way (over that hill people go on about)
Bike – Claud
I was pleased to find that I could still get over the Beacon in one go without the promise of free food at the end (the last time I rode it was for the Puncheur Sportif). Having said that, I am sure it has got longer and steeper since then.
Day Sixteen – The dog ate my homework.
Ride: The 24ish miles to Steyning and back, with good intentions.
Dogs often feature in excuses – so here is mine:
I rode to Steyning last night to compete in my first time trial. I was a bit nervous, but mostly excited. On my way there I came across a very sweet looking dog wandering up the road on its own. Naturally I stopped and had a little chat with the creature, she was very sweet, and after knocking on some doors we reunited her with her owners. The conclusion of this tail (see what I did there?) is that I got to Steyning 5 minutes too late to enter the TT. Still, I had a very nice ride home again, and feel like I have now balanced out my karma after the fox incident.
Here’s to the next 14 days!
At the weekends I like to hang around in industrial estate car parks in particularly dull bits of greater London. Actually that’s a lie, but that is what I spent this last Sunday afternoon doing. Claud was in the boot of my car looking rather sorry for himself, and me, well, I spent the best part of an hour staring blankly at the Sainsbury’s sign looming over me. I had one of those very odd days where nothing goes to plan and you think your world is going to end, but then you end up having an epiphany. Or is it just me that has those?..
I was meant to be in London for race training but I was late, forgot to bring cash, and then proceeded to have a big-arsed panic attack because I’m an idiot. Post-panic-attack my legs were all shaky and I couldn’t bring myself to get out of the car and onto my bike.
If sitting in your kit eating carb filled snacks is training (I have been informed it counts), then I did a lot of training. And then I had a coffee. And then I drove around the industrial estate, and then I had another coffee.
Why am I telling you this? The conclusion of this dull tale is that I realised I’ve been getting my knickers in a twist over a load of stuff that doesn’t really matter. I haven’t ridden my bike much recently, partly because of the cold, but mainly because whenever I do ride I am worrying about whether I’m working hard enough, and whether I’m going to be ready for my next race. So I have made a decision. For now… no races, or race training, or time trials, or competitions of any kind. Because even though those things are awesome, it isn’t why I ride, and it isn’t why I write this blog. I started this because I really like riding a bicycle. And recently I’ve been less than enthused by that idea, which is sad. So for the next 30 days, I’m on a mission to remember why I ride. I’m going to have as much fun as is possible, and if the sun shines, well… that would be a bonus.
If you’re a long suffering reader of Claud & I then you may remember why I started it – to document my adventures during September’s round of 30 Days of Biking. In the process I completely fell in love with cycling, and found a community of cyclists – both locally and online – who have encouraged me to keep riding my bike, and keep the blog going. It’s almost April which means time for another round of 30 Days of Biking. Lots has changed in the last 8 months or so, but there is also plenty that hasn’t: I still love riding my bike, and I still love talking about it (try and stop me!)
Riding a bike is a simple pleasure; the bicycle a simple, yet wonderful, machine. And 30 Days of Biking is a simple idea: ride your bike every day for 30 days – and share your experiences online in whichever ways you like. There’s no form to fill in, no Strava badge to collect, no certificate at the end. I like anything that cuts the crap and gets people riding a bike, and 30 days of Biking does just that.
So, what does it actually involve? Joining 30 Days of Biking means making a two-part pledge:
- To ride your bike every single day in April, and
- To share your adventures online.
Facebook, Twitter, Instragram, your own blog…wherever it may be. It’s a wonderfully simple idea: ride your bike lots, and share it with a community of cyclists online. I also love the idea that if we have enough fun, people who don’t normally ride a bike will want to get involved – that’s how I ended up here!
During April I’ll be organising a couple of social rides (have a look on the Rides page), and I’m sure others will be too. One of my most favourite memories from September’s round was a group ride in Brighton: there were road bikes, mountain bikes and hired Amsterdam style bikes – a bunch of misfits brought together.
30 Days of Biking isn’t a political statement. It’s not a bunch of eco-warriors, or road safety campaigners (not that I object to either of those groups!) or any other stereotype which may spring to mind. It’s an inclusive community who don’t care what your bike looks like, or what you look like, or how far you can ride in a day. It’s for the love of cycling: simple.
Throughout April I’ll be cycling every day, and sharing my experiences online. Why not join me? Let’s hope for some sunshine…
Make the pledge: http://30daysofbiking.com/pledge
I’ve just had a look at my diary, and have concluded it is going to be a busy start to 2013…in a good way. If you’re thinking of heading along to any of the following events and rides, be sure to come and say hello to me and Claud! Leave a comment and I might even buy you coffee ;-)
Friday 18th & Saturday 19th – London Bike Show
Sunday 20th – Kent Velo Girls Race Training Day, at Cyclopark
Sunday 27th – Lewes Wanderers Reliability Ride
Sunday 17th – Kent Velo Girls Race Training Day, at Cyclopark
Sunday 24th - Hell of the Ashdown sportive
Sunday 10th – Puncheur Sportive
Saturday 16th – Winter in the Park, Women’s 3/4 race
Sunday 17th - Kent Velo Girls Race Training Day, at Cyclopark
Saturday 23rd – Winter in the Park, Women’s 3/4 race
I’ll be organising some fun, social rides in Lewes / Brighton area.
Here’s what I wrote at the end of my first blog post back in August…
I think I have fallen in love with cycling. If I still feel that way after the next 30 days, then it must be true love. Watch this space!
Well I do, and it is. I’m not going to stop riding my bike and I’m not going to stop this blog either.