New Year Fitness Hopes
Back in October last year I was in pretty good shape for an old man. I completed my 100 mile circuit around Suffolk to raise money for Cancer Research UK without any problems. It was the first time I’d done that kind of distance and I was genuinely surprised at my performance, especially as in the last 5 miles there were three rather nasty hills. More especially, the last one in particular which was steep and then went on for what seemed like forever.
This hill was even crueler because at the top there is a fish and chip shop and after 90 or so miles the smell emanating from it nearly made me cry with desire for a very large cod and chips. However I powered my way up and past the chippy and consoled myself with the knowledge that later that evening I would be chomping my way through a very juicy steak.
As I said that was back in October. In winter I tend not to do anything like the sort of mileage out on the road as I do in the summer, mainly because I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to winter riding, i.e. I just don’t like the wet, cold, icy and dark conditions. That said I do get out a bit on my hybrid bike which is a task as it is twice the weight of my road bike.
Add to the mix the festivities of Christmas and all the food and drink that comes with it and I’m sure I’m not alone here when I say that I do put a few pounds on. I was a bit more careful this year though and I didn’t drink much at all and never really over did it on the food. At the end of the day I was still half a stone heavier than I was in October.
So what’s to be done about it? I will tell you. When the New Year dawns I go into a kind of annual ritual of getting myself back in shape slowly. There is no rush after all. I won’t get back on my road bike until March. I ease into the year by printing off a list of the UCI Pro Tour dates, so I can watch them on the telly and get fully inspired to do good things on the bike. This I convince myself is good mental training and I may be able to pick up some good tips from the riders on screen. I will be a better rider just by watching the telly, amazing.
Next bit involves a bit more physical stuff. I go to the dark recesses of the man cave to extract my faithful hybrid which will of course be covered in dust as it has been hanging up for best part of the last year. I give it a bit of a clean-up, not too much as it will only get dirty again and then I have to dig out my winter riding kit. Don’t know why but I’m always a little surprised when I first put it on that I can feel my stomach pushing at the front of my jersey.
Finally it’s time to get out on the road. I start by doing a couple of short rides into town using a combination of road and cycle routes, which is actually perfect for me just to get my heart used to doing something again. Then comes the first big one of the year, I say big one, it’s normally around twenty five miles or so which is small compared to the summer riding but I still manage to complain to myself for most of the way round that I’m uncomfortable or wonder why I do it at all.
I did the last part of the Summer 100 last week which meant I had to come back up the chip shop hill at the end of the ride. Oh my God, my legs had gone before I even got to the start of the climb and I found myself changing down onto the middle ring of my chain wheel, something that I wouldn’t dream of in the summer. I got slower and slower the further up I went until the familiar smell of the chippy hit me again. How cruel I thought, as I watched happy smiling people leaving the shop with their goodies under their arms. I tell myself not to be so daft and that the whole point of my torture, sorry training ride was to get back in shape.
When I got back home I sat with my recovery drink and wondered how it was possible that after just twenty five miles on the bike I couldn’t get up that hill like I could just three months earlier having already covered 90 plus miles.
I do know what will happen next though. Next weekend I will try again and this time it won’t hurt quite so much as last time and I won’t be moaning about it quite so much either. After a while I will start to actually enjoy the ride which means I am starting to get back in shape again. A few weeks of this and I start to get my road bike down, check it over to see if there is anything that needs replacing ready for the Spring.
The next big hurdle for me is when I get back on the road bike. It is totally different to the hybrid so it takes some getting used to again, but once I’m back on it the training can begin properly and I’m back to my summer weight and fighting fit in no time at all.