How are you? I hope you are doing well.
For this week's blog I thought I'd give an update on training first and then my usual 'thought of the week', so things are in reverse this week.
I normally like to give a positive update on how well everything is going in these posts, the usual form is I've faced a huge challenge when faced with a ride that is circa 100 miles, but despite the difficulties I emerge triumphant on my heroic mission to conquer the UK.
But I just don't feel like it at the moment.
After six months of training I'm finding it pretty tough at the moment. No doubt, I've improved substantially over this time, looking back I found 36 miles a tough ask when I first headed out with Chris in February, now it's almost not worth getting kitted up for.
But I guess at this point I'm just finding all the prep hard going, I'm constantly thinking about how I can squeeze a ride in here and there whilst everyone else is enjoying the summer and chilling out when they need to. My weekends revolve around cycling and I start to feel guilty if I don't spend as much time as I need to in the saddle. When we plan to meet up with friends and family we organise timings so that I can fit a ride in before or after, the weekend diary fills up first with time on the road and at the back of my mind the LEJOG is now begining to loom.
Having that feeling when you embark on a long ride is not great, as I did this weekend. I planned a long ride across to the South Downs National Park taking on Old Winchester Hill, Butser Hill and Beacon Hill plus many more ups and downs besides. Overall nearly 100 miles and lots of really demanding climbs that ask a lot of a novice cyclist such as I. I rely on a Garmin computer to act as a sat nav which is very handy (and will be a must on LEJOG), but sadly the route I had planned (in a rush) tried to send me down gravel tracks and needless diversions. In the end, I just gave up and headed home, 50 miles instead of nearly 100.
So, when it's tough like this, what can you do. The answer, not a lot, just grin and bare it. If you've done any type of endurance event in the past you'll no doubt know the feeling, I've had it on rides before, albeit the feeling then is a little more transient so easier to deal with, this has taken hold somewhat.
In this case, I've just got to try and defeat these feelings of doubt and despair with cold hard logic. I've signed up to LEJOG, it's for a great cause, it will be tough but everything I'm doing will stand me in good stead to complete it. If I didn't find it tough, it would not be worthwhile and a fitting tribute to two people who faced significantly more challenges than I'm facing, so it's just a case of buckling down and getting on with it. Whilst it doesn't feel great now, time will pass and in just over a few months, this ride will be done and my weekends will be available once again!
So with that I adjusted my route and headed out on the ride again. Those feelings were still there and depsite enjoying the remarkable views and achieving some great climbs, I didn't enjoy it, but I did it and I didn't give in. Every hill I struggled up helped prepare me for the big ride ahead.
Thankfully, next weekend I have my longest ride to date and no doubt the longest ride I'll ever do, 125 miles! Thankfully it's an organised ride rathet than me plodding out on my own, but I must admit, I'm absolutely dreading it and I'll be glad when I'm done!
The weekend marked fathers' day and as you can no doubt guess, it's not a day I'm particularly fond of. The signs up are up all over the place in the weeks preceding it for restaurants and gifts, so there is almost a constant reminder of what is arount the corner. I must admit that historically I didn't create a special fuss for fathers' day, a brief celebration, but not much more.
As the years pass it becomes all the more obvious that I'm not alone in feeling a sense of dread about fathers' day (or for that matter, an anniversary, birthday, mothers' day or such that may mark someone's memory). This year, some friends of ours lost their father after a short illness the day before, quite suddenly and far too young - a great tragedy. Luckily Carla and I have been around to give a little bit of support here and there - although in the grand scheme of things and quite understandably it's difficult to feel like you are making a big difference, but it's nice to be able to help nonetheless.
I guess the moral of the story is to make sure you value what you have, it's easy to get caught up in the difficulties that you face in your day to day life and forget what is going on around you. There may well be people having a worse time of things than you who could do with couting on your support in times of need or just to celebrate the good things, try and be there for both.
Thanks for reading and happy cycling