It has been a bewildering twelve months; as we countdown to the first anniversary of the initial lockdown and for way too many the life changing Covid deaths and illnesses, we all have had to alter plans and the various further "waves" and lockdowns have caused us to make some pretty radical changes while juggling even greater demands on our time and energy from work and family commitments.
I am sure that like most of us, at times you have probably felt tired, stressed, frustrated, fearful, and perhaps all of these at the same time.
As a cyclist, you no doubt miss riding with friends, meeting at the cafe stops, the ever changing rules have not made it particularly clear where and how far we can ride either socially, to keep fit or train for whatever events may be left on the calendar.
The need to be able to get out on the bike, enjoy the freedom while getting exercise for both body and mind has seemed almost impossible, not just the logistics but perhaps the peer pressure to "stay local" whatever that means, has limited the miles you are doing.
Indoor training has boomed, the plethora and realism of online Apps and realtime cycling studios has exploded, Zwift and its competitors are running hundreds of group rides and races every week - which is great, but not really a substitute for the type of long distance riding that our season's cycling requires. We will come on to that later.
Like me, you just want to get back to normal. It can be difficult to keep a positive spirit, to keep motivated to do the training, to keep working towards your goal.
However, at least we have a roadmap out of this lockdown. So what we know is that the Government and the various regional administrations plan to unlock us in stages, and hopefully, if all goes well, then the final restrictions will end on the 21st June, at least in England. So we should have the summer to catch up on longer rides, with friends and travel further afield for training.
Perhaps then let's try not to dwell on things are not under our control and try to look positively at what we can control so that we are as prepared as we can be.
So how can we keep ourselves positive and motivated. The following are a few hints and tips that I hope you will find useful if your motivation is starting to wane.
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While cycling solo is the norm for many people, there are joys to be had from cycling with a group or hopefully like-minded friends.
The advantages of riding in a group are both functional in terms of safety and having someone close to hand to help you in the event of you getting a mechanical issue, such as a puncture, and morale support when you are not feeling on top form.
Riding with friends is also good for building rapport in terms of gaining bragging rights by sprinting to the village sign or the social competitiveness of having the best time on a Strava segment or grabbing the “King of the Mountain” title on a local hill.
However, for this to be pleasurable, you need to be able to keep up with the group. There is nothing more demoralising than being dropped off the back of the group, especially when it is not even on a hill!
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Perhaps the cold, or even snow is making you stare out of the window, putting off the training ride that you have planned. But you remind your inner self that you have committed to being ready for when spring arrives and it really is down to you; fitness and mental toughness do not just appear by watching Boris or Joe Wicks on the TV, it takes personal commitment and self motivation.
So, if you are struggling with the idea or are not sure where to start, here are a few of my tips for training ahead of your summer rides
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It’s been a few weeks since I put anything down here on the site, however as perhaps with the warmest days over in the UK, I wanted to take stock of a few points regarding how we percived ourselves and new cyclists in particular.
If you follow or are part of the cycling fraternity then you’ll be familiar with the “Rules” (loving them or hating them), understand what N+1 means, the advantages of deep rim wheels, the importance of crank length and the pros and cons of tubes versus clinchers. Take a bow, you are a guru and possibly a cycling geek.
On the otherhand, if you are new to cycling, have no idea of what I just said above or really can’t be bothered with the technical stuff, treating your bike as if it was your car (if it squeaks or breaks, then take it to the shop) then you are probably dazed and may be even a little intimidated by the strange language cyclists use. That’s okay, I bet you get as big a thrill out of cycling as the geeks and snobs.
So what is the obsession with all the lingo that the “in crowd” use, and does it really matter ?
Let’s talk about rain
So the last couple of weeks of wall to wall sunshine has ended, the weather has broken and we have seen the return of rainy days and showers typical of a British summer, making many of us hesitate in getting on the bike, especially if it is a new found love because of lockdown.
I began to think about what impact rain has on our motivation to keep cycling, whether for pleasure or as our exercise. The good news is that with a few minor precautions and a little preparation, riding in the rain is not only possible, it can be…liberating.