At what point do you stop being a “Bloke on a bike” and start being a cyclist?
It’s a conundrum I’ve been thinking about for a while….
When I say I’m not really a cyclist a number of people jump up and down and shout that I’ve owned a bike as an adult since at least 2004, which surely makes me a cyclist… I suppose it does. But really, cycling has only ever been a mode of transport for me, a way to commute, as opposed to a go to hobby.
Over the years I have done a fair amount of running, entered races and generally have enjoyed myself a lot. Pretty much everything I have entered I’ve been pretty sure that I would be able to complete.. (yes, even the Spine Challenger). While there are a number of ever increasing distances that are open, 108 miles is pretty much as far as I want to go. There is always the option to start trying to get faster and faster, but at that level, the amount of training required is fairly large, and as I found out a couple of years ago preparing for the TDS, not without the potential for injury.
Last year I decided that I didn’t want to enter any races which had pre-entry. My brain gets wired in a certain way that means I build it up and up, run huge distances and I tend to overcook rather than undercook the training. This lead to a few DNS’s. Last year I absolutely didn’t manage to go along with my plan, entered a load of stuff online and then proceeded to not actually go to many of the things I entered.
The last thing I’m going to do at this point is hang up my running shoes. That is not going to happen. It is a really enjoyable way of getting around, it is time efficient, and we have the added bonus of the fact we live on Bleaklow’s doorstep. Perfect running territory.
So if I’m not going to enter a long race, or train for another sub 3 hour marathon, what have I to train for? To look forward to? To worry about not completing?
So I’ve looked for new challenges – things that I’m daunted by, mostly because of the distances and the cut offs. This year it has come in the form of a 200km offroad cycle Sportive- the Dirty Reiver. It is based in Kielder Forest and is basically a cycling event that goes around the dirt roads in the area. Given an unlimited time, I’m sure I can complete it. However, there are cutoffs, there is always the chance of punctures, mechanicals etc. The attraction is very much, can I complete in the time? Is my physical and mental preparation up to the task? Is there anything else I can do to get ready for something like this?
Since January I’ve been getting out on the bike more and more over progressively more challenging terrain. It has given me a chance to refine the gear I carry, my fitness and my bike handling skills. No, I haven’t stopped running- not at all- I’m doing the High Peak Marathon at the end of February so need to keep up the fitness there, but time on the bike has certainly helped keep up motivation through the winter.
I’m enjoying the new challenge of finding rideable bridleways, connections on roads and keeping in the saddle, all the while wondering… 200km off road? Do-able…. But….
If you enjoy doing something, but have found that either your enthusiasm is waning, or that you end up injuring yourself through over-enthusiastic training, think of something new. A challenge that inspires and daunts you in equal measure, something different. Then get out there and give it your best shot.
I still don’t know if I’d class myself as a cyclist yet… “bloke on a bike” certainly does fine for now.