Dec 212013

Nothing is real until you write it down, until it is out of your head, and in the minds of others.

Those I told had been to the Divide, their brains were able to accept my need to go. Others I explained the basics, said I was off to ‘do a long ride’ next summer. It will take time before they understand. The blue dots will help.

So here it is, my letter of intent to race the Tour Divide. Not ride, not do, but race – to the best of my ability. For no one, but myself.

See you in June.

Forward Planning

Dec 152013


Stories by the fire…

What an idillic winter setting – snuggled under colourful knitted blankets next to the wood burner, reading short stories out load over the cracking and popping of the fire.

I love this scene, and it’s what we aim for in our little country stone cottage on the hill. However, with our cold empty fireplace and no time for knitting blankets, we are a long way off this setting. But we are patiently trying to hold onto our dream as we build it brick by brick as-and-when we can afford to in stages. We have a fireplace now at least!

This is life. I worked weekends/evenings all through my secondary school years in order to earn money. I enjoyed it. I was encouraged to save my money to buy something worthwhile – and not spend it on ‘tat’. Pound notes seemed to have a very distinctive smell in those days – I remember it well – as I used to play ‘banks’ and count out my savings, waiting until there was enough for the thing I really wanted.

This lesson to have less but go for quality (and keep it) has meant I’ve never wanted to ‘make do’ with a cheaper (or different) version. You see I don’t mind working hard and waiting for my dream to be realised. As long as there is progress…

These days it’s all too easy to borrow credit and not have to work or wait for financial things. In sport it’s still like old times: we have to work hard at our fitness, building on it, and be patient for the right time to ‘spend it’.

I’m very lucky to be coached 1:1 by a very knowledgeable and experienced coach. Whilst I have the accountancy skills for sums to know if I can afford to buy something, or when this will be likely, I certainly don’t have this understanding over my fitness. Rob, however, does. Which is very fortunate and reassuring.

This allows for very efficient training – no need to get into fitness debt and we can tailor training to peak for certain events. It’s magical. I feel like I can have the same control over my sport as I do with my finances, and therefore I do have some big cycling goals (big dreams) in mind that I’m working towards, brick by brick, as-and-when I can.

This year we built the fireplace. Next year we hope to get a wood burner. Perhaps the year after we’ll have the knitted blankets and some stories of sporting success to tell too. It’s all in progress.

 Posted by at 8:55 pm
Dec 022013

Here’s something to think about – I’ve always thought that a big part of cycling was about freedom. Freedom to ride whatever trail or road you want, legally of  course. The sense of freedom that being out in the open gives you. And the freedom to take it as seriously or as chilled out as you want. Everyone with me so far? Here comes the radical bit – in that case, why are there so many self imposed rules within cycling?

Most of these words have been kicking around on my laptop since the summer, but they kind of relate to what Jen alluded to a couple of posts ago with the whole stiff pole roadie thing.

Thankfully with the resurgence of road cycling, we’ve all but seen the end of the stupid you’re either a mountain biker or a roadie mentality. But I’m always hearing things like “you’ve got to run your stem as low as possible, you’re not riding with us if you’re using a seat pack,you’re not a mountain biker unless you’ve a peak on your helmet. Women shouldn’t ride bikes, your socks have to be this length or colour, you can’t wear long fingered gloves on a road bike, mudguards on mtb’s are for girls. Races are for serious riders only, your saddle has to match your grips or bar tape, you can’t wear lycra / baggies on a mountain bike / road bike (delete as applicable)”. You get the idea. And believe me, over the years, I’ve heard each one of these said out loud !

It’s always occurred to me that all these rules aren’t really in the spirit of freedom. Are they just some peoples need for sort of structure or code to follow? A need to belong to some sort of faction all abiding by the same sort of rules, or just some peoples need to show they’re more knowledgeable than the rest of us by claiming to know some long standing tradition handed down over the years with secret handshakes and . . . . . yawn ! Who knows? Believe it or not, but there’s even a website out there that tells you, in what shape to crimp your cable ferrules ! I mean, COME ON ! SHOW SOME INDEPENDENT THINKING  PEOPLE ! One thing I will say though, if you don’t know what a DCD is, you’ve never used downtube shifters or you’ve never clattered, screaming obscenities into a five bar gate because your mud clogged canti’s have failed to stop you . . . again, you may not be the right person to be making the rules in the first place. (was that dangerously close to making another rule?!?!).

Yeah, I have my own set of guidelines for how I like to ride and how to set my bikes up. But they’re mine. And I hope they’re not influenced by others opinions and they’re certainly not forced onto others like some, “you’re not cool if you don’t do this” mantra. Maybe this is just the inner Taoist in me coming out, but can’t we each make up our own minds how we ride and just enjoy cycling for what it is supposed to be .. Fun. In whatever form that takes.

Here’s a challenge, ditch the rules. Spend the time instead doing something revolutionary,  like riding your bike !

Yours truly, not a mountain biker, not a roadie, just a cyclist


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