A bit of cycling "cod" philosophy....or "Faking it"Whilst writing a Blog, it can easily appear you are alone with your thoughts and musings. I'm pretty sanguine that I mainly write for myself. Expressing yourself can come in many forms, but writing, at least, has the benefit of allow me to see what it was I was actually thinking at the time as opposed to spouting off. At this point, you might be thinking "what on earth is he warbling on about this time?"
Well, it struck me that in cycling, like life, we are really all alone. I certainly don't mean that we are in some Matrix style "reality", where everything is illusion. No, what I mean is that is it hard for anyone to know what its like to be "you" and for you to be "them". This is why cycle racing or just hammering your mates is both a physical and mental challenge. You are alone in your world of pain as you grind up that 3+ km climb (out of Nailsworth, for those interested in next year's Sodbury Sportive...), and whilst you know that your fellow cyclists are in a similar world, you can't be sure who is going to make it to the top first.
Many a time, I've known I'm not the fittest cyclist in a group (certainly the oldest) but I've kept up or got to the top of a climb or been fastest in the singletrack. This is a skill I call "Faking it". Using the slope to your advantage, looking more tired than you are, braking in a strange place to put off a follower. Faking it is a skill that cyclists develop over the years. I mean who wants to be last at the cake shop, if "tail end Charlie" is going to buy the coffees?
So, if I was to strike off into philosophy again, cycling is a bit like life. The confident are often covering for their fears and the fearful are being true to themselves. Admitting what you can't do is hard. But the first step to improvement is an honest assessment of your strengths AND importantly, your weaknesses. Becoming a better, fitter, lighter cyclist requires an assessment of where you are right now. I have found it quite liberating to admit (in life terms..) that I am rubbish at parking cars and have a useless memory for places and maps. (This might come as a worry to those who follow me round ski resorts....but I am a good faker!) My next task is to make an honest assessment of what will make me a better cyclist.
Actually, that assessment has not been hard. Pushing a small dog (as I call my excess weight) up a hill may be good for the soul, but pretty bad for my pace and my now ageing knees. So once I get over eating Canadian sized portions, I need to get back on the straight and narrow (and no, that is not my favourite singletrack in Ashton Court) and eat less and do more. Well, we'll see!
Sea to Sea (C2C for the text generation)
Ok, if I am going to improve, I do need a target. The JOGLE fell by the wayside in a combination of injuries, and failing fitness. I was reminded the other day that I was pretty lucky to cancel as the two weeks ear marked for the ride were amongst the wettest we've had in this "summer". I think after 5 days of continuous rain and wet cycling clothing, I would have arrived home courtesy of the rail system, rather than leg power.
So, instead of the JOGLE (which is parked, not abandoned, perhaps for a joint "holiday"...) a C2C looks do-able, and indeed fake-able. The C2C for the uninitiated, is a ride from the Far West (of Wales) to "near Holland" (Suffolk) crossing from sea to sea. I am planning to leave from St Davids in Pembrokeshire and aiming for Southwold. 6 days, 60 odd miles a day, getting flatter as you go East.
Before I actually commit, I will be spending a couple of weeks riding as often as rain allows, to see if anything falls off. Not off my bike, but off me, even 6 days is a long time, if you've got a dodgy leg!
Recipe of the week - pancakes...not with sugar and lemon
Whilst in Canada for my hols, I was offered pancakes for brekkie by my kind hosts and indeed pancakes, bacon and maple syrup ended up on my plate, all at the same time. Looking at the recipe used, it looked a lot like a Scots Pancake, only given that I was in North America, it looked a lot like a Scots Pancake on serious body building drugs!
So this Pancake Recipe is from James Martin. It looks good and includes all you need to know for a real "heart stopper" of a breakfast. Indeed, guests may get offered this for brekkie, next time anyone comes to stay as its easy and the batter can be made the night before. Enjoy (but do go for a long cycle if you indulge!)
Ok, so its not actually winter, but the challenges are the same. No salt on the roads yet, but I think its probably as well to be prepared. So if you have the time, I would recommend doing this:
- clean chain and lube with winter chain oil
- fit mudguards if you can, a face full of muddy slurry is never fun or healthy
- if you have a winter bike, service it now and do the above if required
- get a garden sprayer like this fill with cold water - use to remove salt and mud after every ride
If you were wondering, cold water is recommended by Motorcycle Magazines to clean off salt as hot water may increase the reaction between salt and metal. A quick sluice takes no time. Useful for cleaning the bike properly too. And chasing cats off your lawn