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Getting back in the saddle

Chris 1So how’s it going?

Have you got back on your bike since the holidays? Not easy is it? If you’re one of those impressive people who didn’t over indulge over Christmas, you might as well stop reading here.

Good.

They’ve gone.

I didn’t think I’d had that ‘heavy’ a Christmas. With a teething baby, there was very little all night partying going on in my household – lots of late night nappy changes, but that’s not (quite) the same thing. With this in mind, I didn’t think my fitness would have dropped after a few weeks off the bike. Boy was I wrong.

I found myself especially grateful for the amount of ‘give’ in my bib tights as I readied myself for a post-festivities ride. It seems, despite the early nights, I’d put on a few extra pounds – perhaps this was something to do with my including Terry’s Chocolate Oranges as part of my 5-a-day. Don’t worry I didn’t have 5 in one twenty-four hour period – but I came close.

Chris 2I was far from my ‘fighting weight’ as I clipped in for that first ride of 2017. I set off on my usual route along the Exe Estuary in Devon. It’s a beautiful undulating ride on National Cycle Route 2, with amazing views across the River Exe. Familiar as I am with this route, I couldn’t help feeling that something was different. Had somebody been in over the New Year and made these hills significantly steeper? I checked with the council – apparently not.

The miles crept by at a snail’s pace as my legs screamed with the effort. At one point I needed to stop and sit on a bench, where a kindly old lady offered me some of her flask of tea. I politely declined. The further I cycled, the way I viewed myself changed. I started the ride as a ‘Chris Froome’ type, who’d (perhaps) eaten a slice too many of cake over Christmas. By the time the journey was over I felt like a goldfish gasping on the living room carpet. Not a pretty sight.

Fear not because, in the words of ‘D:Ream’ (just before they faded into obscurity), ‘Things can only get better!’ My second ride after Christmas was also tough, but not quite as bad as the first. My third was also a bit of a shocker. And my fourth? Well, I’ll tell you when I’ve done it.

Do you have big plans for your cycling in 2017? Are you going to take part in a Sportive? Perhaps you just plan to increase the mileage of your rides? Maybe you’re hoping to keep on, keeping on? Personally my goal is to leave memories of these post-Christmas rides far behind. I can’t wait until summer when I can get out in my favourite Bobby Dazzler shirt and embrace the joy of early morning rides that don’t feel like I’ve just cycled into a freezer.

I’ll be keeping those heady cycling days of summer in mind every time I clip in and push off. I’ll be back to my fighting weight by then, of that I have no doubt. Right now, my biggest fight is summoning up the energy to get on my bike and ride.

Have fun.

Chris

Chris McGuire is a Westcountry-based writer.

Follow him on Twitter @McGuireski If he’s on his bike, don’t follow him, overtake (he’s pretty slow at the moment).

Chris 3