So this isn’t strictly a cycling entry, so apologies to my cycling followers for today. But the last few weeks I’ve been struggling a bit. It’s always that “what’s the point?” question that we all have once in a while but which tends to arise too often for my liking. It’s not quite the “black dogs” that I did have last year, but even so it is demoralising, de-energising, debilitating – mentally if not physically. I think there’s 3 things that are happening to sap the energy I have: first, I’m constantly fighting the urge to go into a default setting of negativity, of lightening defensive reflex, of panic; second, I’m playing a bit of a charade around some of the things I do out of necessity but it takes effort to live these “lies”; third it takes energy to chart a new path but scares me witless at the same time. So in the last month I’ve felt that lack of energy catching up on me and so have taken a few steps back. That’s not bad in the grand scheme of things given the progress I have made but still not nice.
And what I’ve come to realise today follow a counselling session is that I am not great at communicating. I can talk to a complete stranger but talking to those around me feels more difficult. maybe it’s because I’ve so much vested in those relationships and fear losing them. I’m not alone there. Talking to a friend from University via Facebook she told me that she finds the blog she writes and the emails she sends great as there is no answer back. For me this blog is another way of doing that and I’m always wary of disclosing too much. But it’s still not communicating. Communication is a two-way process: talking and listening. Obviously I’m pretty good at the first…. in some ways. I still don’t talk about what is really going on in my head and often because I don’t know where to start. it makes little sense to me. But I’m pretty rubbish at listening. I either zone out or try to prioritise my concerns. So communication lets me down. I need to find a way to get better at it so here’s another lot of training I need to pick up, need to find a “coach”.
So that’s today’s entry. No Tour de France heroes, no quest for the miles on the bike, just the more mundane story of what goes on in my head. Why write it? Because I’ve had my moment to talk. I hope you didn’t mind listening.
This morning I was catching up on various blogs on the way into work and I came across David Millar’s Tour blog from the Garmin-Transitions website. David is one of those characters who divides cycling fans: a self-confessed doper who got caught but has owned up, done his time and is now back and a vehement supporter of clean cycling. I know I find myself wondering how I can despise Alexandre Vinokourov yet admire David Millar. But for me the entry I read this morning sums it up. It highlights the sheer suffering that is involved in the Tour and the realisation that our heroes are human (as also demonstrated by Cadel Evans futile fight to save his yellow jersey). Millar’s entry resonates with me, as I’m sure it will every other cyclist, and makes me feel my efforts might be worth it too.
Read it and enjoy: http://www.slipstreamsports.com/2010/07/13/the-millar-diaries-alone-and-hanging-on-for-dear-life
So today was a day of 2 halves – three if you include the day job. Back to the bike commute this morning, and after last night’s commute home including an altercation with a closing Pendolino door and buses that came and went I was quite glad. That was until I struggled to get out of bed and then saw the ominous skies above. Still, it wasn’t raining….yet. Now one of the problems with my commute is that to avoid a rather nasty section of A-road my ride starts with 200m on the flat and then straight up. Not a great start for someone who isn’t really a morning person! And so, on the way up the first climb I could see the rain clouds hanging over the Malvern and Shropshire Hills.
I did the 15.7 miles this morning in just over the hour. I use RunKeeper to store each ride and it is from this that my second cycling buddy sent me a message. It read: “Good effort!! Very speedy…going for under the 1-hour mark next time?” Let me introduce you to Nicola. Nic is my virtual cycling buddy and also one of the “girls” that Mrs AB meets up with regularly. She responded to my earlier plea for cycling buddies and suggested we could be virtual cycling buddies and through RunKeeper we’ve been charting each other’s progress and offering words of encouragement (or checking the unhealthy diets we sometimes follow). My immediate response to Nic was that the hour mark was unlikely to be beaten – I’d been advised to focus on spinning on climbs after all. But how wrong could I be.
By 5pm tonight, the rain clouds had arrived, burst, zipped up but found their second wind. I left Birmingham in persistent drizzle. It was “that fine rain that soaks you through” as one comedian has noted. But this wasn’t to last. By Quinton it was full on rain and by Dudley the roads were swimming. Now I say I hate rain, but I think secretly I must like it and revel in it. Unless the water has got to my Cateye, I made it home in 58′ 23″. I’m amazed. Not only have I got the distance sorted but I’ve picked the speed up too. And to top all this I did it in the rain. I’ve been banishing demons all day.
And before I go, I dare any of you to tell me the band who have contributed the title for today’s blog. I’m off now to finish watching today’s TdF stage – I spot an Euskatel rider up near the front.
I want to introduce you all to Dan. I first met Dan in April at the East Midlands CiCle Classic, a the UKs only one-day UCI registered race and in some ways akin to Paris-Roubaix and the “Hell of the North”. On that day, Dan was with his colleagues from Supporter to Reporter (S2R) to cover the race (which can be seen here). Now Dan isn’t a professional journalist. No, he’s 16, about to do his O-levels and is focussed now on doing (in his own words) “proper A-levels”. On on that day in April Dan’s maturity and enthusiasm was intoxicating. Never let it be said the youth of today are lay abouts intent on causing trouble (an oxymoron if ever there was one!). Dan tweeted me early today with the link to his blog, and low an behold it seems we all suffer from that old problem of inertia. Well for Dan I promised to link to his blog so here it is: http://danohara.posterous.com/, and for me it is heartening that he wanted to share it with me (and you). I’m not sure who is a role model for who but I think there’s a bit of mutual admiration here.
As a researcher I am always looking to fill the gap. Which made me think about the eloquent way in which a friend of mine put the secrets of training:
“Base building, that’s the key. I’m an expert at various specific training types: the interval in interval training, the taper in tapering down and the loading in carb loading… it’s just the actual cycling that I’ve never quite nailed!”
Of course filling these gaps is the secret to success, maybe.