Relentlessly Uphill

Two days on from my latest sportive and I’m feeling human again. Almost.

Saturday saw the first running of the Twining Pro-Am sportive in Salisbury.  I have to admit that my initial reason for riding this was to give a bit of moral support to @leadout though in recent weeks I have been looking forward to it for sporting reasons. And dare I say it, sat here with the benefit of hindsight I can see the positive effect it has on me both physically and, more importantly as I type, mentally.  In all fairness the Twining event was superbly run: low key but effective start and finish, located next to a leisure centre (for showers!) with ample parking (for the support team!) and a goodie bag the quality of which you rarely see at a mass participation sports event. The weather was kind despite it being a British bank holiday and the drivers were as considerate as they ever seem to be in the South of England.  The organisers deserve the praise for delivering such a high quality yet relaxed experience.

The only snag was the route, though this should not be seen as a criticism on the part of the organisers. Indeed, looking at this objectively, the route was well conceived. For the most part it was on quiet, good quality roads and with the odd exception well signed.  But its main feature was its unrelenting nature, a constantly undulating route replete with unpredictable wind.  I know that for some this was a major negative and my cycling buddy Dr D was firmly in this camp.  For me it was a ride of two halves: the first 30 miles taken easy with Dr D, the last 30 miles spent on my own catching and passing all the hares who’d overtaken us on the way out.  Those first 30 miles seemed pleasantly rolling when taken easier*, but they never gave up on the return leg.  I finished tired but content in equal measure and looking back this was the tonic that I needed this summer.

As more intuitive readers may have already picked up, I’ve been struggling this summer and at times have felt in a similar place psychologically to where I was 2 years ago. I don’t like to dwell there to long and I’m glad that now I can recognise the symptoms before a catastrophic collapse brings them all to the fore. But it means this summer has been hard work.  Whilst watching yesterday’s Vuelta stage I was intrigued to hear Messrs Harmon and Smith discussing the body’s energy use. To simply exist and function physically (not including exercise) the body uses 15% of its energy. The brain alone uses 16% of the body’s energy.  It goes without saying that the more the brain is asked to do the more energy it requires and so the more exhausted one can feel.  And this is how I have been feeling: boredom with my lot, anxious due to the boredom, stressed due to the anxiety, bored with the stress – a vicious spiral which I have kept in a steady state. In part good, but could be a lot better. Is it any wonder I feel so tired.

And so this is why Saturday’s efforts seemed in a way familiar but also an escape. Relentlessly undulating would make a change from relentlessly uphill. Time to get a bit of perspective back, time for a refocus.


*Apologies to Dr D who found Saturday’s ride anything but enjoyable – she did make it though!


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