Holiday

The lunchtime pickup is done. The eldest has already been off since Tuesday afternoon. It is that glorious time of the year where there is nothing to worry about on Monday, and in 10 days I’ll be on holiday in another country. To say I’m looking forward to this is the mother of all understatements, but there are two bike rides to get through first.

I did my last bit of exercise earlier, and yes, my legs still work, now there’ll be a test to see if fitness is sufficient to get me to the end without incident. I know the hill I’m not looking forward to already, too. We’ll see how it goes, and assuming all is well, I’ll be doing extra PT on Monday. The good news, of course, is that Ride London’s a shorter distance, and on closed roads.

There’ll be pictures at the weekend, of course, but for now I have a backlog of work to catch up on…

Wednesday Week

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When I look back on this point from the future, there will be the understanding that 2018 was where everything changed: not just exercise, or mental outlook, or even the ability to discern truth from deception. This was the year when, driving to pick up my daughter, Brain successfully informed Body that we’d done enough and it was time to stop. I turned off Social media, came home and spent a couple of hours looking after myself. There was no cycling (I have two days worth of tests to run starting today) and no exercise (which will happen after I’ve written this) but what there was included writing novel and organising next week.

Then, I slept for nine hours.ย The elimination of caffeine after 6pm and removal of electronic devices which can be read from the bedroom has begun, finally, to bear fruit. It also helps that I’ve been physically exhausted by my new training plan, which is now pushing body in new and interesting ways. I had time to prepare breakfast the night before, and make a list of the things needed to continue to improve my food intake. Once I’m done here it is good enough weather to walk to and from the Gym for a weights session, and if it’s not too busy afterwards, I might even have lunch there.

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This is where I’d like to make my home, for a while. However, yesterday I was prompted by an e-mail that I might like to consider the Ballot for the Ride London 47: a shorter version of the main ride, without the killer hills, which would allow me to gain a sponsor and make some money for the time spent. I won’t know if I’ve managed to get in until late April, but it shows willing and is an acknowledgementย that there’s a desire to try a ‘proper’ event, rather than the more casually-based Eroica. It will also take place the day before we go on holiday, so I’ll have plenty of time to recover.

Entering myself, however, is a huge deal. I don’t like races, get nervous and itchy at the competition. The psychology of it all will be a bigger undertaking too because I’ll be doing it alone (husband will be on the full ride) and I’ve never had the confidence to do something this complex without support. That’s the biggest leap forwards of all. I am good enough. I can do this.ย There’s anxiety just thinking about it, typing the words, but beneath all of that remains the confidence in myself, that never existed before. Just as I’m about to finish a novel that’s taken two decades to grasp, I could ride alone and succeed.

All things are now possible, if I just believe enough in myself.

Rain is Falling

It is a foul day outside. I have not completed the scheduled early Gym session because after last night’s exercise on the bike, I needed to rest.

After an hour, I was in tears, again. This is a curious combination of knowing what I am capable of doing, not being able to do that and struggling with the mechanics of making everything work. It is the geared bike that is the problem, and in that regard, there’s a measure of gratefulness I am not doing this outside in the rain. However, last night was undoubtedly progress. The numbers do not lie, after all.

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If I can keep this up on a ‘real’ static bike as opposed to an ungeared one, I will shortly back to where I was. The key then is whether I can improve my FTP.ย If I stick at reasonably flat roads for a few weeks, it should be more than doable. Then I can look to increase (again) the level of my other Gym activities. However, the key last night was that represents 400 calories plus of exercise: once I can guarantee over 500 a day (and a gym day plus bike is closer to 1000) then we can look at weight loss and conditioning. Right now, undoubtedly, is just an awful lot of physical and emotional thrashing about.

The mental stuff is probably most tiring of all.

I do not remember a time for many years, going back to the period both my kids were being breastfed, that I felt as happy as I now do just to lie in bed. That sense of being able to stay put, and not having to worry about anything except just going back to sleep has become the indicator of how hard I’m working. Today I took an hour to look after the surface layer of my body too: exfoliation, feet care, a long (and almost painfully hot) shower and then being able to move around the house without having to worry about being anywhere or doing anything is EXACTLY what both brain and body need.

Tonight, however, I fully intend to do 22 miles plus to knock my 110 miles for the week early… except I got dragged out for a meal and now I’m shattered. So, rest day today and back at it tomorrow.

P.S: I love yoga pants. I should wear these more often.

Bicycle Race

Saturday and Sunday at the end of July, in this household, are reserved for RideLondon. Husband’s now completed his fourth 100 mile race, and on Saturday myself and the youngest joined him for the Freecycle, with 70,000 other cyclists.

To make it easier to get into and out of town with the minimum of fuss, we took three Bromptons . My husband’s love affair with these folding commuter bikes began when he won one in a contest about a decade ago. Since then, he’s picked up the other two dirt cheap at boot sales and restored them. They are huge fun to ride (though not that great on the arse, as mine still attests this morning) and, I discovered on Saturday, get raced just as often as ‘proper’ bikes do. In fact, on Saturday, after the Ladies Race in London, the Brompton World Championship was held.

It was not the best day weather wise but, I must admit, the experience of cycling past some of the Capital’s most iconic monuments was special indeed. Particularly satisfying was the ride up the Embankment, which I’ve used as fan-fiction backdrops for many things, and to imagine characters running as I cycled did give a bit of a special thrill. In the end we did 15 miles (including getting to and from the car which we parked near the Tower of London.) I’m going to do this every year from now on, because honestly I never need an excuse to be in London.

This year’s medal for my husband is particularly special: it was his best finish so far, and he’s now very close to breaking the six hour mark for the ride:

This year I could follow him around the course too, thanks to a microchip on his bike. It’s amazing how technology has changed since the ride began in 2013, and I have no doubt that will further improve next year. I’m really proud of him every time he completes this, but this one is particularly awesome.

Here’s to taking part in 2018’s events.

The Old Songs :: Two

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Okay, I’m back at a PC: I took a tablet with me across the weekend, but there was simply not enough time to write. Honestly, the last three days have been more packed than has been the case for MONTHS… and I want to make sure I get it all recorded before memories fade. Therefore, let us start with Friday night, and I’ll detail Saturday and Sunday starting next week.

This time, we left early as last year’s driving around in the dark in a strange place was, to put it mildly, quite stressful. Once the Hotel was found and we’d checked in, the next task was to find somewhere to eat. Having missed dinner, we were directed by hotel Staff to The Old Dog at Ashbourne, and dinner was simplicity and brilliance all rolled into a small, perfectly formed package. Mr Alt took a burger and I went healthy, until I ordered a pint of Rhubarb Cider and everything went downhill very fast. It was, more or less, like drinking highly alcoholic cordial, and there could have been many, MANY glasses bought. Fortunately, common sense prevailed, because the plan for Saturday morning was to cycle to the event.

Thanks to the wonderful way the railways were fairly savagely shut down back in the 1960’s [see Beeching’s Cuts] there are a lot of cycle paths around the Derbyshire Peak District, one of which is conveniently located at the back where we were staying, effectively providing a direct route to Eroica’s doorstep. Nine and a bit miles is more distance than I’ve taken on in any form since the operation, so I’ll admit being nervous, and that’s probably why not too much got drunk on Friday night. My bike was bought especially for the occasion: a Nigel Dean World Tour (circa 1982) which is now, I suspect, going to get a complete overhaul, and we were up bright and early on Saturday morning to do the run to the event.

You can have those stories tomorrow, after I’ve had a much needed night’s sleep in my own bed…