I think it’s fair to say I have a love hate relationship with the bike. I hate it and, actually no, that’s it. I just hate the bike. I can’t take my hands off the handlebars to signal or eat or drink unless I am on a straight, smooth and flat bit of road, I have never used the drops off the turbo and I really don’t like going downhill.
However, this has not stopped me cycling in the past nor entering, and doing, triathlons on roads that were not closed to traffic. Until yesterday at the Winchester (May Day) Triathlon that is. I don’t really know why and to be honest I’m not really interested in finding out why at the moment, I just couldn’t do it.
Maybe it’s because I haven’t cycled on the roads since September last year, although I’ve done at least one, if not two, turbo sessions each week since November/December time so I have retained, if not improved, my fitness in this discipline over the winter.
Maybe it’s because last year I was run injured until the beginning of May so I had more time to focus on the bike. And, to be fair, now I have been running reasonably well again I was simply not interested in going on a bike ride so I just didn’t but as a result I have lost all my confidence on the road.
I knew this though so I forced myself out on a recce of the route (although I knew it from last year) to get some practice on the road with people I could trust to look out for me and treat my (irrational) fear seriously even if they maybe didn’t fully understand it.
I expect this recce may have gone OK if the weather was not so bad and/or I had realised this beforehand and been better prepared with more appropriate clothing. In short, I was cold and wet without the right gloves on to the point that I couldn’t feel my fingers so turned back within the first mile for fear of not being able to brake or change gear.
This was the right decision on that day as by the time I got back to the car I could barely unlock it and spent a good 15 minutes waiting for my hands to warm up and stop being so painful to be able to drive home. However, this was not good preparation for May Day Triathlon. Especially as it was looking like the roads were going to be wet even if not as cold on the day.
I had a bit of (truthfully a bit more than a bit) of a wobble in the week thinking about the triathlon and said I wasn’t doing it. End of. Well until it was lovely and sunny in the couple of days leading up to the race and I allowed myself to think I could actually do it.
I took it day by day, hour by hour and eventually minute by minute. I put the bike in the car, packed my bag, got up at 5am, ate my pre race breakfast and got dressed in my kit. I was still going to do this although I could feel the nerves setting in.
On the drive there it started raining but as I was driving it meant I couldn’t freak out and by the time we got there it had stopped raining. But the roads were still wet. And it was quite chilly. Still working on the minute by minute principle I got my bike and bag out the car and went to registration.
Seeing the other guys from HERC Triathlon around transition on the way to registration and the realisation that registering would be committing to racing just got too much and I bottled it. I just wasn’t ready mentally for this even if I could easily do the distance…I did a half ironman six months ago FFS! It just wasn’t going to happen on this occasion.
In the state I had got myself into it was not a good idea to race on top of the nerves and apprehension I already had so feeling like a pathetic idiot and incredibly annoyed with myself I took my bike and bag back to the car. It was the right decision.
Albeit 11 months away my focus is now Brighton marathon. I have an eleven month plan to improve my base fitness to a level from which I can tailor and build my training specifically for my goals at Brighton which includes not crashing and burning afterwards like last time.
Although I felt utterly disappointed with myself yesterday, I knew that if I had come off that bike or injured myself doing a race that I really didn’t care about it would have been soul destroying knowing what I want to achieve in the next year. I thought about Southampton half last week and this wonderful photo of me and my teammate(s) crossing the finish line and I knew pulling out of the triathlon was the right decision so that I could focus on repeating this again with them in our upcoming run races.
I of course stayed to support the rest of the club that did race yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed watching everyone achieve such fantastic results, from our GB Age Groupers right through to our first time triathletes.
I went home just as knackered and possibly just as happy as had I managed to do the race but safe in the knowledge that I was still in one piece!
Next stop is Endure 24 which I can assure you will be just as tiring and emotional, if not more so!