It was a bad day on the bike!

February 8th 2017

A chilly morning with a hint of rain. The sun is trying to edge its way around the clouds but I doubt it will do much. I am not working today and so I ‘have to’ get out on my training ride. But I was completely unprepared for what the session was going to throw at me.

When I came back from the ride I immediately wrote about the experience. It was in reading these few words back the following day that I realised how tough it was. My mind was all over the place. I could not imagine how I would be able to take on 13 days over longer distances and bigger climbs.  Here are some of the words I wrote. Please be aware they really are how I wrote them in my journal, not edited.

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I am drained, I can’t feel my toes – no I can’t feel my entire foot!!  I thought I had a stone in my shoe for about 5 minutes until I realised it was the bone in my foot and I couldn’t feel the flesh around it touching the inside of my shoe. Help me!  I am never going to make JOGLE at this rate. I can’t even get out of the proverbial first gear…..

I am sat now with a cup of tea warming up. Writing my notes on what went well and I can’t think of a bloody thing.  Well I suppose I got home in one peace. I guess I managed to make 58 miles in total even if it wasn’t the route I intended to ride.  Hell that was tough! I shouldn’t have been that hard. WHY was it so damn hard.

I set out with all good intentions – I was really happy to get out on the bike. It wasn’t that cold but I had everything on that I own.

What went well – come on think of something.

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Now I know the ride was tough – really bloody tough. However it was not the ride itself that caused me concern.  You get tough rides and you deal with the learning – what was my energy like and what do I need in place to deal with that. Tweaking training plans to include more of what you need to improve, ensuring you fuel better, carrying more water etc. But this ride was all about my mental state. I was really pushed to my limit. I was close to talking myself out of the ride at half way. I wanted to call in the cavalry (aka Peter and the car). My little monkey mind was chittering and chattering away at me from it’s comfy seat inside my head.

So what did I do, how did I manage to get through the worst of a bad training ride.

Here was what I eventually noticed, when I had warmed up enough to be kind to myself and give myself a break (see point 3)

1) Food – I had not fueled right for the ride – I need to think more about fueling for a cold wet day and once I realised this I addressed the problem with an extra stop.
2) I gave myself a good listening too – being honest with myself on the bike enabled me to really understand where I was giving in to myself. Owning how I felt – seriously COLD I could then deal with what was in my control and hang the rest – dropping a few mph letting my pedals turn and noticing how my feet were still working even though I couldn’t actually feel them!
3) Give myself a break – I was out there wasn’t I. Once I had done this the ride back became so much more a choice than a chore.

Now I didn’t enjoy it like I usually do, but when I had warmed up by the fire with my cup of tea and started to write out how I felt about it ‘warts and all’ I did feel that euphoria again. A job well done – well done at least.

April 2nd 2017

Now I am 7 weeks on in my training journey and halfway between that horrible ride and the main event. I still remember that ride and what it taught me. It has informed my training ever since. I have put in a few more 40 and 50 mile rides as well as increased the frequency of my outdoor cycling. I have learnt to recognise my self talk and deal with it earlier.

This week I undertook my longest solo ride of the plan. An 80 mile hilly route from home out to the Malvern’s. I was clearly nervous before I left the house. It took me 30 minutes to pull all my kit together and still I left without my water bottle. At least I only got to the end of my road, I was 3.5 miles away before I realised I had forgot my purse!

I had a ‘funny’ first 10 miles. Not quite with the rhythm of the bike. I think the gremlins from that last long ride were still with me. Noticing this I had a little chat with myself. This ride was not going to go the same way. For a start the weather was much better – sunshine all the way. I was also 7 weeks further on and 7 weeks ‘fitter’. I had mapped the route to take me somewhere I had never gone before and I told myself that I believed I could.

It took a while, as I said, for those first few nerves to go away. But the rhythm came. The joy of being out in the spring sunshine helped and I simply smiled to myself.

My little ‘I’m not good enough’ Gremlin was back in his box. Placated by the joy of the ride and the simple motion of my feet turning.

bike quote - Einstien's Meditation in Motion
Meditation in motion

When I came home my journal read very differently. In fact my face said it all as I metaphorically skipped around the house putting the kettle on for my post ride brew and making avocado on toast to fill me up. 80 miles ticked off, 4.500 ft of climbing done, averaging 15 mph on the dot – simply wow – and my legs and head felt great. Now the ride was not all plain sailing, even Disney doesn’t get it all perfect. I did feel quite tired in the legs and remember the first 10 miles I was a little out of sorts. I also needed to re-fuel on the return journey and I was flagging and muttering to myself before I recognised the signs. Overall though the feeling on this ride was one of success.

    

Beautiful sunshine encouraging me towards the Malvern Hills and the view looking back from the foot of the Hill.

Why I wouldn’t trade a good session for a bad one

The point of the blog was to say why I wouldn’t give up the bad ride for the good one. We would all love to have the best training rides every time we go out.  The ones were you can show your strava following how ‘AWESOME‘ you are. The ones that give way to ‘kudos to you’ and ‘chapeau’. But life is just not like that.  When I am out on the road on my own in May I want, no I need to know that I can rely on myself and my inner resources to get me through.

These training rides are all mini adventures and little steps on the way to building my resilience.

If I can’t cut it riding tired, riding cold and wet or notice when I my monkey is working up a storm from it’s comfy seat in my head. Then I am not going to get very far on my journey.

I am enough, I am ready. As my friend said to me a few weeks ago – Train Hard Ride Easy. Thanks Jayne x

 

Hugs Nic xx

 

Nicky is riding from John O’Groats to Lands End in May 2017 in support of Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice. If you want to donate then please head over to her just giving page. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Nicky-Harverson1