The love of my bike
The tri training has hit a snag ... I left the flat this morning pumped to do some cycle training around Regents park with one of my training buddies. Okay, so that’s a lie. I left the flat mildly hung over after too many cocktails and going to bed in the early hours of the morning.
I think it’s fair to say that I haven’t been massively enthusiastic about the cycle part of the triathlon thus far. I don’t like cycling and especially don’t like cycling in London. The amount of traffic, and in particular the crazy bus and cab drivers* who seem to view cyclist as some form of prey, makes me really really nervous.
Last weekend I went to Regents park for a training session but ended up feeling totally humiliated as countless MAMILs (Middle Aged Men In Lycra) effortlessly lapped me as I huffed and puffed my way around the park, red faced, hoping for the traffic lights to change to the same shade so I could stop for a rest. I expected cycling to be easy. Why am I finding it so tough? I ‘m happy to run for over an hour and don’t even think about how my legs feel but cycling leaves me out of breath, with sore legs and I’m not even going to mention my poor bum…
The idea relying on a piece of machinery is also problematic for me. With swimming or running there really is limited scope for equipment malfunctions. Most of these are likely to be fairly easily avoidable by taking sensible precautions to make sure you’ve broken in your kit adequately and double knotted your laces… However, once you bring a bicycle into the equation you have to deal with the potential for your equipment to fail you in a big way, be it by the chain falling off or you getting a puncture or…. Okay, those seem to be the two main things but they’re pretty big deals (especially the puncture situation).
I was recently informed, at a tri training day, that I should be ready to change the inner tube on my bike if I get a puncture during the race. Apparently it’s outside triathlon rules for someone else to assist you, which seems to totally go against the friendly tri ethos if you ask me. We were advised to use youtube tutorials to master this skill if it was something we didn’t already know how to do. I diligently found an appropriate tutorial. It all looked simple enough but so does doing brain surgery when you’re watching a neurosurgeon. It took me an hour to take the wheel off, then I couldn’t get it back on and that was before I even started faffing around with a new inner tube. I subsequently concluded that if I have a bike malfunction on tri day it will probably be faster for me to run with my bike along side me, or strap it to my back for that matter, than to start trying to replace the inner tube.
Needless to say, in a typically defeatist style I was putting off doing any cycling, or cycle maintenance, with my subconscious telling me that avoiding doing something that I’m not good at would just make the problem go away. It was only once I realized that the cycle element would likely take up approximately half my race time that I thought I should at least try to give the cycling a proper go. I still stand by my tactic in relation to dealing with a potential puncture; that is keeping my fingers crossed hoping that it doesn’t happen to me.
So with this new found commitment to cycle training in mind, I made my way over to the bike shed, helmet on, bunch of keys in hand ready to do battle with my locks. I unlocked the bike shed and walked up to ‘my section’ of the bike rack but my bike wasn’t there. I started to think I must have left it outside the lido and run home one night forgetting that I had cycled. Or had I left it at my friend’s house after cycling over there the other evening ... ? It was then that I looked down and saw my front wheel and the ‘D lock’ still attached to the rack and simultaneously got that curious feeling in the pit of my stomach. Some bloody c**t f****er had stolen my bike.
It’s like they always say: “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. I loved cycling and I loved that bike. Now, as a victim of crime, I’m getting all dewy eyed about the freedom my Carrera virtuoso small framed (black/blue) road bike** gave me. How I used to cycle through London, free as a bird, not a care in the world with the wind on my helmet.
Needless to say – any suggestions on how to train for a triathlon without a bicycle would be most appreciated.
* Apologies to all the considerate bus and cab drivers out there. My comment is clearly a massively sweeping stereotype.
**I have reported my bicycle stolen to the police. This is being treated as a non-residential burglary due to the nature of the theft from a locked bike shed. I hear that most stolen bicycles end up being sold around Brick lane or on eBay so if anyone sees a second hand ladies road bike (Carrera virtuoso) with a blue black frame and two sets of breaks I’d appreciate you getting in contact or reporting the sellers to the police.