May the road rise with you

So my previous posts over the last week or so have been a bit negative, a bit flat which of course is strange given the nature of the Tour de France over the same period.  Once again I can’t quite put my finger on the reasons but whilst the rest o the world is wowed by the continued exploits of some of the best, committed and, some might say, insane sportsmen in the world I’ve been uninspired, fidgety and, dare I say it, bored.  How I’d love to be on the edge of my seat gripped by the action. Instead I just feel exhausted and flat, an underlying nervous tension eating away.  Perhaps this is to do with a lot of other things going on in life – the ongoing tensions over work, the feeling that I’m drifting and perhaps most of all the inability to switch off.  These were things that I thought I’d conquered but it just goes to show how life isn’t that straightforward. It’s a bit like Alberto Contador – he’s won 3 (possibly 2) Tours, 2 Giros and 1 Vuelta but yesterday showed his fallibility and weaknesses and of course the need to fight back.  So it is for everyone in different parts of their lives. The cynical amongst you might even point to the similarity in the absence of drugs in this comparison but let’s not entertain that for long.  So firstly a brief apology that I’ve been brining the mood down, secondly that there’s some work to do and don’t forget it, and finally that I still need that help and support both a pat on the back and a kick up the bum. Your help in the latter is very much appreciated.

I want to ride my bicycle

And I want to ride it where I like!

Day to go to the Tour Ride 2010: 5

As I gaze out of the office window, distracted as usual, the sun is shining, the grass is green and the leaves on the tress are just on the turn.  It’s on days like these that I would much rather be outdoors and what better day for a bike ride.  After all the rain enduring rides I have had recently it seems a real shame to be stuck behind glass and not making the most of what might be the last vestiges of summer.  And so today’s challenge is to hold that though and remember it the next time I find it hard to get out there. I suspect this may be the case on Sunday.

As the big day approaches I can feel the stress levels rising.  This is not connected so much tot he distance to ride but rather the logistics around the day.  Mrs AB and I are already staying in Stafford the night before at my folks in order to be that bit nearer the start and we are picking up my brother Mr Leadout on Sunday morning now that the car has a newly purchased and soon to be installed roof rack. But I haven’t a clue how far it is from the official car park tot he start or whether Mrs AB can drop us both off nearer and then find somewhere to put the car.  I am torn between wanting support and putting Mrs AB through a day of sitting in the car, bored to tears – I honestly have few ideas about what there is to do on the route other than ride.  Its these small logistics that take over me and I feel that binary approach of  pass-fail, all-nothing, black-white start to drive my thoughts.  It isn’t good but I’m finding it hard to remember how to challenge it.  As I’ve said before, planning isn’t really my forte until I’m hard pressed to do it.

Having said that, I’m sure we’ll get there.  Starting with the need to sit down and map out the route.  Watch this space.

Now I suppose I’d better get on with some work.

Its the final countdown

Days to go to Tour Ride 2010: 10

Okay, I couldn’t resist the obvious musically inspired title for this post but at least give me credit for sparing you the video of 80s mulletted rockers belting out the most overused track in New Year and Advertising history!

Yes, its only 10 days to the Tour Ride.  And don’t I know it.  Having said that I had a nice spin on the bike today.  Despite the gusty and ferocious wind I felt good, did a nice speed and managed the hills with comparative ease.  I’m not even going to cast a cloud over it apart from the say that the implicit gloating of poor weather for a certain ToB photographer (you know who you are) came back to haunt me as the rain did damped things a little.  But who cares, it was mainly sunny.

And in other news: the cameras have now come out of intensive care in the airing cupboard and seem to have made a full recovery – much to the relief of my bank account.  So anyone wanting a photographer can start getting back in touch.

So, it’s now almost 9 days to go.  A couple more training rides to squeeze in before the big day and plenty more thoughts to share.  Tonight I received a very nice surprise but I’ll leave you waiting to hear what that was until later in the week.

Half Century

This might sound like a cricketing analogy and unashamedly it is.  Yesterday’s ride was a further mark in progress and milestone crossed in reaching the 50 mile mark.  It was a “bat raising” moment and I do have to confess to taking my hands off the bars in some form of personal celebration.  The pure cyclists amongst you may think this is too little too late. For me it is a marker that I can make it around the 100 miles in 2 weeks time. And passing Hugh Porter on the outskirts of Brewood and leaving him for dead on the climb to Chillington was somewhat pleasing.

What still concerns me is the hills.  Again these are both metaphoric and real: the shark’s teeth of what Procycling Magazine calls the Queen’s Stage of this year’s Tour of Britain are my immediate concern for the next 2 weeks as I’ve never been a climber despite my long legs; the hills of life are just an ongoing concern for which there seems to be no end – the good days a bit like a transition stage in the Tour de France is for the like of Mark Cavendish, a silver lining before more clouds.  Still, I’m determined to get over both however much it hurts at times.  At least the real hills have some physical end and a practical way of getting over them, even if this involves dismounting and walking.

And so to the weekend. Today I’m seeing a very good friend of mine from my days in South Wales and I feel like a long coffee/lunch date before some nice home cooked food tonight. And then Sunday and Monday see two days following the Tour of Britain with the camera – pictures to follow on my Flickr pages in due course. The rendezvous with the race on Sunday will also allow me to reacquaint myself with the hills of North Staffordshire and the peril which awaits me!  At least I now have £600 in sponsorship to keep me going.

Only 51 miles from bingo

The training miles are gradually nudging up. They are not increasing at the pace that the training “plan” would have me do, nor at the frequency of riding, nor with the determination that some of my more professional followers would prefer me to do.  But 48.8 miles on Saturday morning was a certain mark of success. And given that it was a lumpy 48.8 miles with somewhat of a headwind and the after effects of some rather delightful Baklava the night before. It took my legs a good 10 miles to get going so that was Bridgnorth before I felt vaguely human. Dodge the shoppers on the streets and out towards Ironbridge. Banana consumed, thinking of my early cycling following days and a bunch of fresh-faced pros extolling the slow sugar release of the yellow fruit riding up a pretty similar hill, onwards and descending from Brosely to the new iron bridge before a ride along he Severn to the bottom of the Sutton Maddock.  For years this was my bete noir but in the last month I have conquered it not once but twice. This all bodes well.  From here its a straightforward roll to Shifnal to pick up the back roads to Albrighton, passing the futuristic shell of the Cold War Museum at Cosford on the way. And then on to Codsall.  Starting to ache now and realising I’m a little light on the mileage I opt for an extra loop to come back into Codsall and a head wind. In the middle of August. These forecasters are a joke. From here it is an easy ride back home with the exception of the climb out of Lower Penn.  But on Saturday that too seemed to be easier.  And so to home. Jump in the shower, double espresso and lunch and the recovery has already taken hold.

Now what I did after this won’t be recorded in this blog but needless to say it didn’t really help towards the training.  However, if I can get out twice this week, with a long ride at the weekend I think I can feel safer in the ability to get around the Tour Ride.  And with over £500 of sponsorship either given or pledged I have a real incentive to do it.