Category Archives: Inspiration

Inspirations – Post-FNRttC Ponderings…

So now I’ve popped my long-distance-cycling cherry (no giggling at the back, 50-odd miles is far for me!) and it’s left me wondering… what’s next?

An accurate map of England and Wales with the principal roads from the best authorities

I’m not particularly competitive, so going faster is only really important to me in so much as allowing me to do things I couldn’t do otherwise, and it’s more about the journey and the achievement than getting a medal or a prize. Well so far, here are a few ideas I’ve had:

  • The classic, long-way-off, Lands End to John O’Groats. A fortnight of 60-mile days, and realistically a whole lot of planning and organisation (not to mention cost).
  • Driving/train-catching somewhere then going cycle camping. Probably leaving the car at my mother’s house in Worcestershire and heading into Mid Wales. Picturesque, but probably a bit lonely.
  • Taking part in more organised rides such as Audax UK.
  • … Or just doing stupid stuff like getting up on Saturday morning and cycling the 90-ish miles to London, having a well-earnt pint and catching a train home.

Got any other ideas?

Inspiration – Time-trialling

Despite the apparent lack of results so far (to be blamed, entirely, on cake and pizza) one of my main motivations for returning to cycling is to get fitter, thinner and faster. I should be clear – I’ve long since given up on actually being fit, thin or fast but relative improvements are better than nothing.

That said, I’m really not that competitive a person by nature. I’m never going to win the Tour de France, and I’m not likely to ever even enter a road race. And I genuinely don’t care whether I’m faster than anyone else. All I really want is to compete against myself. I want to be better than I am now, and so… Yeah. I’m going to have to enter some kind of race, aren’t I. Shit.

And so, on to time-trialling. In theory, you just turn up at a lay-by, give a bloke with a tin a couple of quid for a race number, and then riders start off at two-minute intervals and ride along public roads for ten miles. The rules are fairly simple: bring a road-worthy bike, helmet and lights; ride within the law; and no drafting off the back of other riders. You then arrive, legs aching and lungs screaming for mercy, where there’s another person with a stopwatch to tell you how much you sucked.

Of course in practice it’s as complex as you want to make it. There are fancy aerodynamic TT bikes, silly handlebars and fancy wheels, carbon fibre everything, energy gels and super-tight lycra skinsuits for the serious lot but ultimately it’s just you and the bike with nowhere to hide. Which, for me at least, is bloody scary. But at least my first go is guaranteed to be a personal best!

(My first time trial, if I don’t wimp out, will be the Swindon RC come-and-try event on June 14th. I’ll be sure to let you know how slow I am after the event – assuming I survive!)

Inspiration – Friday Night Ride To The Coast

One of the reasons I love cycling is the massive variety in how you can do it. From commuting and pootling to the pub, nipping to the shops, towing the kids to the park in a trailer, all the way to velodromes, time trials, blingy carbon bikes and the insane world of long distance events like Land’s End to John O’Groats or Paris-Brest-Paris.

I don’t do nearly all of these things, and to be honest I don’t want to right now. Some take more fitness than I have right now, some need more money or organisation or planning than I can muster. But there’s so many things I do want to do, and this is one of them – FNRttC, or the Friday Night Ride to the Coast:

It’s a beautifully simple idea. Organised by The Fridays, riders “leave Hyde Park Corner at midnight under a full moon and ride through the night at a conversational pace, arriving at the coast in time for breakfast”.

At about 60 miles (depending on the route and destination) I think I need to build up a little more stamina, but it’s definitely on my to-do list for this summer if I can get the legs for it. I can’t think of many better ways to build up an appetite before a full English!