Well, after four weeks of being “off the bike”, the first three weeks of which were amongst the best October cycling weather ever, I am now back “on the bike”. In my late teens Deborah Harry was my ideal woman and if you substitute “calfs” for “heart” in Blondie’s heart of glass, then you have some idea of my anxiety when I go running. Trying to be ‘quite good’ at triathlon does mean that you have to do both of these and often on the same day. So to help the calfs I thought I should put the shoe cleats quite far back on the shoe and thus through simple trigonometry, reduce the leverage that they have to cope with when I pound down on the pedals. Do you follow the simple logic there? Brilliant, were it not for the fact that the change in contact point with the pedals has put warranty invalidating amounts of pressure on the things that hold one of the metatarsals of my left foot and they have torn.
The very week Esther gives in her notice at work to cycle with me around the world a bit for a few years is not a good time for this to happen. “It takes half your body weight that little thing” was the conclusion of the pediatrist in Glasgow. So that is why it’s too painful to put my foot on the floor. I am told £130 for a custom foot orthotic is great value and half London prices which is nice. This is four weeks ago now, and as I say I am “back on the bike” so it is money well spent I guess.
That was the second time “off the bike” this year. I had been enjoying running in the snow at the start of the year with the mighty grip from my Inov8 Roclite 315 meaning that I could bound around in the snow like an eight year old on half term. The massive 6mm lugs give fantastic purchase on the snow and ice. Annoyingly, if you don’t take exaggerated high steps then they will catch the wooden lip of one of the worst constructed flights of steps in the whole of Southern Scotland. Now I have led conservation projects constructing steps of this type and “the steps should be evenly spaced with treads and riser horizontal and the back of risers where the foot will be placed should be well compressed to avoid washing out” are simple enough instructions. When the step washes out you are left with a wooden lip standing proud that is always going to catch the lug of an Inov8 and yes, down I went onto my arm with an audible crack like that of a dry twig about 1cm across being snapped.
Broken wrists are nasty and keep you “off the bike” for a long while as they are one of the three bike contact points. I did swear at the time and I cursed more as every week of lost fitness and improving weather went by. Turbo trainers allow the keen cyclist unable or unwilling to get out there in the real world to train indoors. They are a tool made by the very hand of the devil himself. I am a spinning instructor and get paid a small fee to lead groups of mainly eager ladies in one hour workouts choreographed to music that takes place on similar bikes. So why does time stand still here in my living room and why do I hate and detest my turbo sessions when one to one with myself.
So, over two whole months have been “off the bike” this year and every time you come back it is a horrible few weeks of torture to regain fitness. The books say that you take at least 6 weeks to lose fitness. Nonsense, that’s as big a lie as those makeover programmes on tv and drug free bike racing in the seventies and eighties. It is gone in a week or less and that is a simple fact. Saturday morning I was shaking with anticipation as I got the bike out of the shed. I had been too scared to go near the bath scales but I guess 3kg has been gained . Two Xmas puds have remained uneaten from last year and may be binned. I was a Lycra clad bag of nerves as I put my trust in my new orthotic and pedaled off for the first ride. You really do not want to get ill or injured if you want to cycle around the world and I do have a habit of doing just that. Saturday 40 and Sunday 53 miles back “on the bike”.