A Little Bit Of Cycling Goes A Long Way

This post is really more for my benefit to reflect back on how far I have come and also a benchmark from which to build in my first proper season as a triathlete (currently still a triathlee).

I joined the triathlon club at the end of last season when we were discussing the winter training sessions which, for the bike, was turbo sessions with the odd group ride. The seasoned cyclists all said the turbo is not the same as the road but keeps the fitness up and they couldn’t wait to get back on the roads come Spring. I, however, quite liked the safety of my little turbo in the confines of a warehouse where I couldn’t fall off or get run over and thought they were all mad!

In fact these kinda sum up where I began all those months back not having a clue about what to do with a bike!

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I wouldn’t go as far as to say I hated my first group ride with the club at the end of last year but I would be lying if I said I really enjoyed it. It was 12 miles round West End and Hedge End, pretty flat except for one enormous hill which pretty much finished me off for the remaining two miles of the ride. I was scared to take my hands off the handlebars to even signal, was terrified of the roads and don’t get me started on the roundabout where I pulled onto the pavement to avoid a visually wide open and perfectly manageable left turn!

But now I’m starting to get it.

In the last couple of months I have cycled over Portsdown Hill, done a 22 mile bike ride, cycled on my own without even thinking about it, tackled that ‘enormous’ hill again (that isn’t actually that big) and done a time trial on a route including three roundabouts in the space of 4 miles that all required right turns, including the one I couldn’t even turn left at 3 months ago.

On one ride I even found myself cycling along with one hand on the handlebars and the other doing up my coat…this was more out of necessity than choice as I stupidly left it wide open after a stop where I was unsuccessfully trying to wipe the rain off my glasses onto my T-shirt. Finding myself in this situation is not likely to surprise some people who know how utterly useless I am at most things requiring my brain and/or memory but the point is that my hand was not only off the handlebars but actually doing something other than just signalling!

The next step with this new found skill will be drinking while cycling…I think locating the bottle and possibly even drinking may be doable but I’m not so confident about finding the bottle holder again afterwards…I may need to have a supply of spare water bottles while I’m getting the hang of this one!

And apparently there are these thing called cleats that people use…I am not convinced that I need these just yet. No doubt it will be very similar to the turbo vs road debate and once I have them and gotten over the first couple of (apparently obligatory) tumbles there will be no going back and I’ll wish I had done it sooner, but for now I am happy with my little cages and will probably continue with these for this season while I am building up my confidence on the road *cue abuse from pretty much everyone who uses cleats*.

I am proud of what I have achieved in the last few months and is the silver lining with this injury as I would never have done all this bike training if I could run. It does still play on my mind that I haven’t even cycled on one ride as far as I have run in one race and that my average weekly cycling mileage at the moment is the same as I was running but I also know that without this injury I would still be scared of the bike and unable to do a 4 mile time trial in 14:45 that is apparently ‘pretty good for a girl’.

I have a Physio appointment this week to try and understand what is going on with my hip but unless I am told I will put myself out for the rest of the season by doing so, I am going to do my first triathlon next month whether I have to walk, hop or even crawl the 5k at the end. The plus side of this part being the last discipline is that I can really race the first two and at least get an idea of what I could achieve once I am run fit again.

As for my original A race of the year, the ultra marathon in July, this is not looking possible as a solo runner as I have probably run out of time to sensibly build the miles back up again but the next few weeks of Physio and rehab sessions will determine this for sure and then it may well be plan B instead…

But for now, with today being a rest day I am naturally writing about training and planning tomorrow’s training which will hopefully take me past that longest ever mileage on foot or two wheels point.

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