Training and the Elements
Training and the elements is an essential experience. And, there is nothing quite like the British weather. As many of my friends will tell you, even when I am running my hardest I can still be frozen! I have to say, during this year I have experienced one or two extremes – severe cold and more recently severe heat but with twists along the way.
I prefer to cycle outside as exposure to the wind, rain and even the odd bit of sun is essential to this kind of training. It prepares your body and mind. You can jump off at anytime when inside but outside even when your muscles are burning and your mind is saying ‘I can’t go any further’ you have to plod on. If focussed on your inside cycling there can be no let up and boredom creeps in very quickly.
The wind is really hard work when blowing in the wrong direction. One minute you are achieving speeds you dream about thanks to the wind – I even managed average 18.7 mph for 12 miles one day. This was a very proud moment that I didn’t actually record! The next minute the frustration of cycling uphill into the wind is exceedingly disheartening. When average speeds drop and you find yourself travelling as slow as 5 mph, the effort starts to drain you.
On one of my rides I was cycling along one of the smaller country roads leading to Hanslope. The plan was simple, right at Long Street and home, straight to work. As I was going along the hedgerows seemed to be getting deeper and deeper in snow. As it had not snowed for over a week and had completely melted in most places I was not concerned. Then I could go no further – a snow drift probably half a metre or deeper in some places was covering the entire road. There was no way through. That was another 5 miles added onto my route.
Rain and Storms
In May, on another ride, I was by-passing Deanshanger, luckily riding relatively slowly after the previous evening’s storm. I could see a man and his dog up ahead and then I spotted a tree right across the road. I’m pleased to say this kind man helped me to lift the bike over said tree. He was surprised to learn there had been a storm and I still don’t know how he could not have heard it. I tried so hard to remember his name on the rest of the ride but to no avail! If anyone knows him please tell him how grateful I was.
On one of my longer rides with my friend Chrisie, we had checked the weather before leaving to head down toward Ivinghoe Beacon. Although sun was promised by 9.00am as we approached Wing we began to feel the first drops of rain. At the beacon the rain was a little more than a few drops. With the 90 degree driving rain you can’t see with sunglasses on but equally you can’t see if you take them off as it whips your eyes!
I’m not sure if the cold weather is worse but it has probably been one of the hardest things about the training. I can cope with rain slightly better than the cold and believe it or not we have had some very cold days up until May. My tactic to prepare my feet was simple:
- de-feet wool cycling socks
- cling film wrapped over my socks
- winter cycling shoes
- finally neoprene covers over my shoes
Despite these measures my feet still felt frozen after only about 35-40 minutes although I have continued in my normal determined spirit.
This year has been a nightmare for hayfever and I think my symptoms seemed to start quite early. Despite Beconase and Piriton some days I have felt completely drained by it. One morning I forgot to put on my sunglasses and by the time I arrived home I could hardly see out of my left eye. I promise I am not complaining about the sun! Cycling while the sun beats down on you with a cool, gentle breeze is hard to beat.
Keeping the bike clean
The problem with the elements is that it can destroy you bike. My outside training therefore has been balanced with the potential damage that bad weather like rain can cause. Water in the bottom bracket or headset is a disaster. To minimise damage it is essential to clean your bike down – removing mud, grime from the road, cleaning the chain, taking out small stones and grit from the tyres. Not my favourite job and not one I always get round to as many who have seen my bike will confirm! However for the last few months, I have religiously cleaned it.
So this is also about raising funds for York House Centre and Cancer Research. York House have just increased my target to £750 as they now want to build a cycle rack with a cover. I’m really pleased about this as I believe more of us should get on bikes! As for Cancer Research I have had some really generous donations – on my sponsor forms but I would love to see a few more on-line. Whatever you can give from 10p to £100 it would make me so happy – thank you for reading to the end of my latest ramble!
Cancer Research – Because it funds life-saving research and aims to bring forward the day when all cancers can be cured. https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/for-the-love-of-chips
York House Centre – The aim of “Outside is for Everyone!’ is to make York House Centre’s outside spaces fully accessible for all users and to encourage activities, including sports.