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Gary's Blog

La Course en Tete

08.27.13 | 1 Comment

It’s all in Gary’s mind…

This past Sunday was the Ken Laidlaw Sportive, a 104-mile (or 55 for the mere mortals) held among the rolling hills of the Scottish Borders.  I was supposed to be there, but instead took myself out on a regular 40-odd mile route to try and figure out how to be there next year.  So what’s the problem?

This year has been a disaster training-wise.  Garmin Connect tells me that it was 23 February before I rode a bike outdoors, thanks largely to The Worst Winter Since Records Began™, 3 March before I rode again and then a month before my next one.  Oh, and I didn’t ride at all during the month of June meaning it’s only been in the last 7 weeks that I’ve actually ridden in short sleeves.  This is not good.

Apathy really was the biggest factor rather than the weather.  It’s not as if I hadn’t put in my share of hours on the turbo during that miserable winter and Garmin tell me I’ve done over 160 km of running since January.  Yes, I know that this only serves to make me a better runner, but that’s not the point.  So I’d planned to do the Scottish Bike Show Sportive as my “season opener” before having a better Etape Caledonia than last year.  This would then serve as a springboard – along with Tuesday night chain gang rides – towards my unfinished business with the Ken Laidlaw.  None of this happened.  Okay, the Bike Show ride was ultimately cancelled, but I never quite got round to signing up in the first place.

To the excuses then.  Chain gang.  Motivation factors: it’ll help me ride faster and for longer, and there’s some good banter.  Demotivation factors: I hate that feeling of sliding off the back after what seems about 4 rotations, and the apparent inability of people to control pace.  Or at least, control the pace to one that suits my already burning legs!  Oh, and I’m not motivated by some stalwart of the local scene yelling at me, as you’ll soon discover when I bury this pedal spanner in your skull*. 

Etape Caledonia.  Motivation factors: I’ve done it before.  I’ve paid a lot of money to do it again.  Demotivation factors: having to register the day before; getting up at 5am; and what if I get another 3 punctures?  Oh, and I’ve done no riding.

Ken Laidlaw.  Motivation factors: unfinished business, I only did the 55 miler in 2011.  Demotivation factors: the decision point is at 27 miles, what if I go for the biggie and my legs puncture in no-man’s land?  In my mind I’m a crap climber.  Oh, and did I mention I’ve done no riding.

Apathy begat apathy.  Seemingly having to ride with a purpose meant that I simply didn’t enjoy it, to the extent that I then actually didn’t want to ride.  Of those few early-season rides, there was always a half-closed eye through my fingers on the main events, with their aforementioned fears.  That translated into fearing that a bad morning out on the Lang Whang immediately meant a worse day over the Swire, some 4 or 5 months later.  And that’s just plain daft.

Sunday morning’s ride began with an air of self-loathing, being on my bike but not for the reason I should have been.  However, I soon realised that my climbing was actually okay.  The steady outward ascent, for example, was done almost entirely in the big ring and the 8 and 10% spikes were all done seated.  I even attacked the final Col des Treize Lampadaires (my new name for Snooker Club Hill) with some purpose rather than immediately sticking it in the 34T and slowly counting down the lamp posts.  Most of all, though, I was glad I’d done it and resolved that from now on I’ll go back to enjoy doing it in the first place. 

After all, isn’t that really what it’s about?

*And, no, I don’t actually carry a pedal spanner with me, but inflicting serious physical damage with a CO2 cartridge and a gel doesn’t lend itself to comedy in quite the same way.

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