Monday, 10 May 2010

Spectrum Magazine 2nd May 2010

Lyrca and Cake

Holy smoke! Despite all of my best efforts, all of the promises that I was not going to loose the fitness I had last autumn; losing weight, avoiding cakes and exercising throughout the winter, the computerised bathrooms scales say NO. I am a good solid 4kg overweight. There are always plenty of excuses. The bouldering room was too cold through the winter, the nearest climbing wall a 45 minutes drive away, the gym too expensive for just a 4 month membership and I could not get onto the ski slopes as much as normal. The plain truth of it is, just not enough discipline; too much Vacqueyras and too many good meals and cakes. I sometimes feel that hidden just below the surface of this vaguely sporty body is a huge ice cream, chocolate, fast-food bloater, waiting to explode.

I am lucky enough to live near big hills and within a population that understands cyclists. They give you a wide berth and understand the efforts you are putting in. Apart from a brief period in the late eighties when climbers wore very loud lyrca, I don’t do it. However slim a man you may be, the VPL, the meat and two vedge look, only works in certain New York clubs. It’s not great in public.

However, today and for the next 2 months I will make an exception. Despite the humiliation of walking about like a duck in stiff shoes, despite the inevitable butt pain, the stupid macho drivers, who think it is funny to honk and cut you up, it’s time to embrace the torture of the road bike. Standing there in my all black cold weather lyrca skin tight suit, l look, to all the world like some tall, nerdy super hero with a small pot belly.

Having spent almost all of my sporting life on natural terrain, road biking still feels a little alien, somehow too urban, to serious, to sporty. After all, its an Olympic sport with teams and god forbid, rules! However it’s one of those activities that since discovering it 3 to 4 years ago, keeps suckering me in.

The best bike training advice I was ever given was cadence. Try to stick at between 80 and 110 revolutions per minute. It efficiently helps the heart pump around the blood and means you are never grinding to hard or spinning so fast that you bounce up and down on the saddle. One of my favourite rides is from Roy Bridge to Newtonmore on the A86. The climb out of the town towards Moy Lodge is just enough to keep you honest and is not too off-putting for an early season ride. The early descents along the loch side towards the climber’s car park at Craig Meagaigh are fast open and fun. The lack of caravans wobbling past, or slowing you down on the single track is a blessing at this time of year.

After the first 20 minutes, I rediscover why secretly, I actually really like road biking. The feeling of travelling at speed under you own steam, the pacing, the time to look at the mountains, smell the land, it all comes back quickly.

Conveniently enough for the faint hearted, just when I begin to feel the need, along comes the WolfTrax MTB centre, and its chance for me to put back in some of those calories I have just burnt off, I take it. Carrot cake.

Hey I deserve it; just making the initial effort to get out on the road is cause for celebration. The problem now is that I am hooked again, that constant straining of the endorphin drug, pulling me out of the house into the superhero suit. So beware, on a road somewhere is a thinning bald man with a fat man inside, waiting to pop out and grab the nearest passing cake.

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