I have a new outlook on life! The builders have managed to finish the loft and en suite and, although it isn’t painted or carpeted, it’s enough for me to put a table in for a makeshift office! Some brief respite from the noise of the rest of the house but no more staring out the front window!
As for cycling we’re still allowed to go outdoors at the moment, though good weather at the weekend caused the Government to remind people that sunbathing in parks and on beaches isn’t part of their social distancing guidelines and I feared the worst!
I went for a 50km ride on Saturday and I was pleasantly surprised by the people that I encountered as the vast majority were in ones and twos and cycling sensibly and responsibly. I only saw one group of three (who certainly didn’t look like they lived together) and they got a few choice words. The most difficult part of the ride was keeping a rhythm on hills when bridging gaps to other riders, unless I was going much quicker I hung back as overtaking would shorten a gap for too long and I didn’t want to annoy people but then it became difficult to cycle at my own pace.
I also made the decision, as the possibility of an outdoor ban looms, that I would revisit roads and segments that have given me trouble in the past. I’ve found that a bad experience on a road in the past gives me a huge mental block, but as I’m now a much stronger cyclist and my understanding of what could have just been a ‘bad day’ has improved I wanted to conquer those mental blocks. Beddlestead Lane is one such place.
When I first got back on a bike in 2014 as a very unfit man in his mid 30s, I made a mistake one day in going down Beddlestead Lane. What starts off as a gloriously fast descent soon kicks up to a 3km long climb. It is only a 3.8% average across the 3km which, to me now, seems quite insignificant, but back then it was like climbing Everest.
I remember stopping not even halfway up, coughing up a smoker’s lung and then suffering the indignity of having to walk up the rest of way. I was close to throwing that bike away that day and it really gave me a reality check of just how unfit I was. I never went back……until last Saturday.
I know I’m fitter, stronger and an all round better cyclist than I was all those years ago but it didn’t stop the mental block from questioning my ability, I’m finding the emotional and psychological side of sport a very interesting subject at the moment. I rode my usual route over to the turning for Beddlestead and stopped…..
I watched a couple of riders disappear over the lip of the descent and gave myself a bit of a talking to before pushing off down the road. As the descent levelled and the road began to rise I made sure I was in the correct gear and got into a good rhythm, the doubts washed away and I spun my way fairly easily up the lane. I caught up with the two guys that had gone on ahead which reassured my feeble mind of just how far I’ve developed as a rider, but I hung back and maintained the distance between us. As the end of the road appeared an embarrassment entered my head and I reminded myself not to be so bloody stupid next time!
The rest of the ride was a slow and steady enjoyment of my surroundings, the peace and the fine weather. When the cars come back I’m going to dream of days like Saturday.
So, while the roads are quiet, I’m going to do more of this. There are several roads that I want to go back to, to banish old memories and challenge the new me.
Stay well, stay safe