I have always loved cycling and it’s possibly one of my best sports. Swimming is my other love, especially outside when it’s sunny. Over the years I have begun to love running too. I normally have a go at all three and have taken part in the odd triathlon and running event.
This year I have had to give up running and more recently swimming too to focus on cycling. The only draw back with cycling is that it is time-consuming and I have discovered that I also miss the other disciplines. I actually found myself admitting to being somewhat bored by just cycling.
I managed to keep up the running at least once a week up until April – running with 3 other people around Towcester. The sessions would have stopped for summer but I have found myself being a little jealous. I could see Jenny, Sean and Toby posting some great runs and times. To be honest I also miss the banter, but don’t tell them!
Then come the moments that I forget I am not supposed to be running and I accidentally take part in some track runs. The most recent one left my legs feeling more than a little strained. It’s only a mile, ‘you can do it’ they said. I did – not having run for weeks I managed a mile in 6 minutes 41 seconds. In fact I am sure some of my ‘friends’ should have persuaded me it was the wrong thing to do! Always good to give responsibility to someone else! As a quite competitive sort it isn’t difficult to get me to agree to do sporty when I should say NO!
Strength and Core
Strength is an essential part of this type of cycling. I don’t think I appreciated how much strength you need in your arms and hands until Phil from Cycle-Tech taught me to change tyres without levers! This is important as you can puncture your inner tubes using levers.
Core strength, that is your middle, and arm strength are also important for cycling uphill particularly with heavy bags. If you experience back pain when cycling it can be because you are not using your core. This can be very debilitating.
I probably don’t have much core strength thanks to excuses and a few operations! Laura Bowley, Happy Bodies, may never teach my body co-ordination but she has helped to build my upper body, arm and core strength. I can’t say these sessions were my favourite but I can say they and her advice helped hugely.
The other training that has been essential is spin and turbo training. While I’m not a fan of indoor exercise there are clear benefits. Turbo training is sitting on your bike in your house and cycling without going anywhere. It is not the most exciting but it is good for building leg strength when you can’t get out. Spin training is sitting on a bike with a group of other people with an instructor at the front. The instructor tells you what to do – speed up or down, add or release tension. Laura’s classes, Happy Bodies, were very different from any I’d ever been to before because they involved a lot of co-ordination and arm strength building. She has learned not to expect too much from me!
It’s not long
It’s not long now till I go and the next couple of weeks will be about winding down. My legs are quite tired at the moment from all the training so rest and stretching are now very important. I will continue to have a few rides but they will be slower and more gentle. This is incredibly exciting for me but I am also quite nervous. Will I succeed? What do I do if I don’t make my destination? These are questions that go through my head hourly at the moment but I can say that I will give it a very good go.
In the mean time …
I can’t leave without giving you these details