September 1st 2012 I jump onto the weighing scales to see what the effects of a summer of excess and relative inactivity have had on the twisty turney dial down on the floor. The whirr of the dial shudders forward and backwards before settling on the number 85. That’s 85kg or 85 bags of sugar in lay mans terms. For my height it’s not too bad but I had just turned 40 and knew that left unchecked the next time I would stand on the scales it could well read 90. Time for action.
Our youngest started in big school on September 3rd which meant that all my family would now be travelling to school together. My daily tasks of dropping to play school, collecting and dropping to our child minder were now at an end and I was now free to regularly cycle to work.
Living just 2.5k from work I often envied those who lived 10, 20 or even 30k from work and the opportunity that afforded to do a decent training spin as part of the daily commute.
Then the thought struck me that I could easily take a different route to and from work and get a training spin in along the way.
Cycling to work on bright September mornings was a pleasure. No amount of traffic could influence the time it took to get to work as I whizzed on by. In the evenings I would take the big black hybrid off down along the river path and stop to say hello to friends that I met along the way. A loop would bring the time spent cycling to and from work up to an hour when the spin up and down for lunch was included.
I found myself in a lighter mood as I arrived home as opposed to when I took the van and now always had a smile on my face as I strolled in the door after cycling home from work. It’s a great way to separate work life from home life.
By the end of September I was stringing a lot of commuting spins together and feeling all the better for it.
I was now also beginning to notice a difference on the Sunday group spin as my fitness improved.
By mid October the evenings were getting dark and I had to decide whether to keep on cycling to work or get back in the van. A good set of lights quickly sorted out that predicament and I continued on cycling.
There’s a great buzz cycling along deserted country roads on a winters evening in the pitch dark when you are lit up like a Christmas tree. Whilst others are driving their cars to the gym to work up an expensive sweat , you are out there in the free fresh air getting your workout done and making the most of your time. It also makes you feel like a teenager again.
Whilst everyone complains about the weather in Ireland, over the past 4 winter months I have put on rain gear just once. There have been days when I was caught in a light shower and many others when I managed to dodge a shower or two but in general this has been a good winter for cycling and I am very surprised at how rarely I get wet.
This is also the healthiest winter I have had in many years. Perhaps the daily ingestion of clean fresh air and the expulsion of stale air from the bottom of my lungs along with being just plain fitter all round has made a difference.
I downloaded the Garmin fit app onto the iPhone and as it automatically uploaded each days cycle to and from work to the Garmin connect website that I used with the Garmin on my road bike for training spins. I noticed how many days of the Calendar were becoming shaded and a new challenge appeared on the horizon. Could I manage to ride a bike every day for a month. Days off I would be out for a training spin and cycling to work every day would take care of the rest.
By December I had only two blank dates on the Calendar, one was a day spent looking after Laura who was home sick from school and the other was Christmas Eve. Now I was really noticing the difference on the road bike and could do a 3 hour spin with the group on just 1 bottle with no food and arrive home feeling capable of doing another hour.
Over Christmas Strava challenged people to do the Rapha festive 500 which encompassed 500 km between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve which was another box I managed to tick.
On New Years Day I hopped back up onto the scales to see if all the cycling to work was making much of a difference. I had noticed my belt going in 2 notches but was still surprised to find after all the Christmas excess to see the dial come to rest on 81kg. Today January 12th it’s even more lethargic resting up at 79kg. None of this is down to any change in diet as I have not changed an iota in that department. I now just manage to burn off more calories than I consume every day.
Having not raced for a number of years I often considered riding a few races when I turned Vet. Cycling to work has given me the base to get back into some form of race shape so I will indeed make it to the start line of a few races in 2013.
Being fitter out on the bike I look forward to every training spin when I get to exchange the big black hybrid with a carrier for the slightly lighter winter bike. Every day off work is now a training day and one such day was even Christmas Day.
Christmas Day as a teenager often meant delight at finding a Kas Thermal top or a PDM matching Thermal top and bib tights under the Christmas tree. There were also the books ‘Kelly’ and ‘A man for all seasons’ as well as the ‘Sean Kelly board game’. Each present brought excitement on Christmas morning.
This Christmas morning I was out on the bike with a few locals one of whom just happens to be the aforementioned Sean Kelly. Riding along he turned and asked if I would like to come out to Calpe to his An Post Sean Kelly team training camp in January. I thought back to the Christmas mornings as a teenager and gave my answer.
Today was our first day here in Calpe and whilst out on the road we encountered Fabian Cancellara along with his RadioShack team mates and met Cadel Evans coming against us. Not exactly the type of cyclists that I pass on my commute to work each day. It was a rest day for the An Post boys but they are back in full steam ahead action in the morning so I better rest up well this evening !