Thursday, 28 July 2011

At a Cross Roads

I think I have reached a bit of a turning point with my cycling and I'm not entirely sure which way to turn. Last year and leading up to my Tour de France ride I found it easy to keep on training and I had no problems with motivation at all. This was probably because I felt there was a real purpose to it and because what I was training towards really mattered to me, it was something I had wanted to have a crack at since I'd had the idea a year or two beforehand.

The 2010 TdF ride went well as readers of this blog will know but essentially since the ride ended I've been struggling with motivation and though I have continued to train there have been periods when I have done relatively little in the way of training in any serious way.

I've been out on a couple of rides recently which have been pretty challenging and I know I'm below where I could be though I did a very hilly 115 miles solo recently without any real problem at all so I'm not exactly unfit. My problem is that I'm no longer sure whether I really want to dedicate so much time and energy to cycle training when in fact I'm not really training for anything that requires a peak of fitness of any sort.

I've sort of come to the realisation that in order to get back where I was say 14 months or so ago I would have to put a great deal of work in and even then I'd be nothing more than average and it's just recently all started to look a bit pointless.

What is strange is that I have recently started riding with a really nice bunch of guys from the Tyneside Vagabonds CC and have enjoyed their company greatly, even managed to get some chain gangs going which seem to have been well received. Even this does not seem to have motivated me to get back into what I would call proper training so as I said at the start I'm not really sure how to move forward.

Part of me actually quite fancies becoming a purely "leisure" cyclist and just going for a gentle roll around the lanes but another part of me feels that I shouldn't do that having invested so much time and money over the years in developing not just my knowledge but also the range of equipment I have, in particular my VELOtron which I saved long and hard for.

I'm even finding that I've become bored with riding around on the same old roads, I know pretty much every bend, every pothole, every hill and I've seen more or less every view from every angle within cycling distance of home so even that gets tedious, then there is the weather, which is normally poor!

So, it's all a bit difficult really, things on the home front are challenging too as my Mum is now very old and frail and the outcome there isn't going to be good, that all hangs over me like a black cloud and certainly has a negative effect on my state of mind.

In the end in this sort of situation the best thing to do is often just to do nothing and to see how things pan out so that's what I think I'll probably end up doing. I have some time off work now and I'm off to ride the Raid Alpine next week so I'll see if that lifts my spirits though even that hasn't panned out as perhaps I'd first thought it would.

Watch this space…


  1. Quenten: i have followed your blog for a few years, and have been motivated by your quest a few years ago to ride the TDF. we are about the same age, and your feat was nothing short of amazing.

    But your post hit a note with me. about 6 years ago, i was riding 4 or 5 days a week, 150 - 200 miles each week, and i think Mr. Armstrong was my motivator. seeing him chew up the TDF was very exiting. Then about 2 years ago, i realized that i was giving an awful lot of myself to the bike -- time in the saddle, fatigue, studying workout results. I decided i would stay fit, but ride a whole lot less hours. I invested in a Computrainer, and later a Velotron, and now i try to spend high quality hours on my Velotron intermixed with a few short outside rides each week. I am still keeping my threshold power at around 275 or 280 watts by using various Erg Video workouts. but i am not pooped all the time, and i have gained back valuable time to pursue other things.

    A few years ago, i rode unsupported (just a small backpack) on a route through Bergerac, Souillac, but detoured on the way to Aurillac & Saint Flour due to a darn cold. I went to Spain after getting well, and rode in Girona for a few days.

    i have a dream of going back to France and riding a few of the famous TDF climbs -- but maybe one each day. I also want to finish the route i started from Bergerac to Saint this is what i keep training for. To be in good enough shape so that if i decide on a whim to go back to France, or Maui, or Spain, i can have a fun cycling adventure albeit a bit slower than i would have 6 years ago.

    so don't beat yourself up about not keeping up the training regimen of a 25 year old. ride as long or as short as brings you happiness. we all ride the same roads each month......there are only so many roads....just like the Tour. i have come to appreciate them more when i am not compelled to hammer ALL THE TIME. I save my matches a bit more these days, and i relish being in shape enough to burn a few every now & then.

  2. Hi

    Thank you very much indeed for your most thoughtful and considered reply, it is greatly appreciated. I am sure there is much wisdom in what you say and I suspect that your approach is the approach I will end up following. I'm going to hopefully complete the Raid Alpine next week and I'll take things from there.

    Thank you one again and very best wishes with your cycling.


  3. one other thing i forgot to mention. since i really do love bicycles, i "accidentally" ventured into riding vintage bikes from the '70's & '80's. i bought a really nice Colnago, then a Pogliaghi, even a Schwinn Le Tour. I put away my lightweight modern bikes for awhile, and almost always rode my classic steel bikes. I was still fit, so it was great to whiz by a group of riders on their carbon fiber specials while riding a 30 lb frame with friction shifters. of course i would try that on an 8% grade !! LOL

    anyway, i started collecting a few vintage Campagnolo components and decided to build a bike myself. I found an early '70's Merckx Kessels frame on eBay in Germany, repainted parts of it, leaving some battle scars on it. i bought some hubs, rims & spokes and a trueing stand, and learned how to lace my own wheels. i bought more odds & ends off of eBay, learned about "chain line" and found a bottom bracket.....eventually i was pedaling my own handbuilt fixed speed!

    that got me hooked on fixed speeds. i bought a modern one (Specialized) and even found an early 1900's model with wooden rims. Wooden rims ride VERY nicely! on my list of things to do is to build a modern set of rims for the 1900's bike so i can preserve the wooden rims, and get that bike on the street where it belongs. another project i will get to some day is building a restored early '70's Merckx frame in my attic, using a mint Campagnolo Nuovo Record gruppo from that same era that i found on eBay.

    my point is that i found a whole new avenue to pursue my love of bicyles. it kept my interest in bikes high because i was learning how to work on them, buying tools & parts, and it helped fill the time gap i discovered when i began to moderate by pursuit of cycling fitness.

    now i have choices -- do i do a leisurely ride on a 1900's track bike? do i lace that set of rims i stashed away? do i do 2x20 Threshold Intervals on the Velotron? do i take out an early '70's vintage italian steel frame for a spin? do i take out a fixed speed for a 30 mile session? or do i whip out the carbon fiber frame and tackle a few local long steep climbs?

    there are SOOO many ways to enjoy biking & bikes. the world is your oyster, my friend. just keep turning over the next pedal.