Monday, 18 November 2013

Catching up...

I'm so far behind with everything - including updating this blog. My defence is weak, a combination of events and circumstances that have colluded to distract me from worthwhile achievements. I've been suffering from a lingering cold that has slowly progressed around my body - currently manifesting in the chest and throat, I have a spluttering cough and runny eyes - generally I feel down. I ventured out on the bike for just a short ride last weekend, the preparation for which left me exhausted let alone the actual riding. It was a slow meander on a crisp, dry morning. The sky thumb-smudged with slate-grey clouds with the occasional brilliant white streak. I've ridden only five or so miles before i'm being peppered by heavy drops of rain, conspiring to dampen my spirits even further. I stop to shelter at a Church lychgate, reasoning that the last thing I need is a soaking.

Thankfully the downpour is short and I'm soon on my way. The roads, shiny and slippery, seem unfriendly - I sense a sudden shiver as a cross wind bites into my side. I'm not enjoying this, not one bit. I pass through countryside now closed for the winter, fields of grey, lifeless and solemn. There is a track to my left, a play route for four-wheel drive enthusiasts, demonstrated by deep ruts puddled with pond like water and topped with delicate patterned floating green and yellow leaves. There are a few oak trees around the perimeter, tall and majestic and surrounded by rows of younger upstarts. I press on, at last finding some rhythm. A stretch of downward road helps me along and I pick up a welcome turn of speed as I pass through quiet villages, not much sign of life, nothing much seems to be happening.

I start thinking about riding through the winter months - between now and next March the short days and testing conditions inevitably mean that miles will be few. I'm keen to find a way to do something but wonder what. Last year I experimented with a turbo trainer - a contraption designed for riding indoors - I didn't enjoy it all, I found it mind-numbingly boring. I'm now looking at a possible investment in a set of rollers - I had some many years ago and after the initial wobbly session I remember them being okay - more like real riding because the rider has to keep balanced and concentrated. Or maybe some sort of static exercise bike - there are many machines on the market these days, expensive machines that report back full statistics of all efforts - calories/heartrate/watts/average speed - etc. These machines also have internet hook ups so that it is possible to ride any route anywhere in the world via Google maps and an iPad - I could be riding Alpe d'Huez one day and a local route the next - all in the dry, relative warmth of the garage. It's a possibility. 

Next I'm thinking about our 'challenge' for next year - we need targets, something to aim for. The balance of available holiday time and realistic expectations is something that needs consideration and at this stage nothing is certain. Amsterdam maybe. Dunwich Dynamo?, Coast to Coast?, Tour de France (UK stages)? - there're plenty of options.

I arrive home and plonk the bike in the garage - not a great distance covered and certainly not a rewarding ride. But I'll be better soon, illness kills the desire and hinders the benefits of exercise - I'd have been better sitting in front of the fire with a glass of whisky.

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