Possibly losing any progress i’ve made…

Don’t you hate those reminder messages about things you’re putting off thinking about? Well here’s another one… it’s less than 5 weeks til Tour O the Borders. And what am I doing to polish off my training regime in these remaining weeks? Thanks for asking… I’m off on what has proved to be the most poorly timed two-week family holiday ever. And because I refuse to give EasyJet more money, it will be two bike-free weeks. So loosely, I’d summarise my training regime finale as Possibly Losing Any Progress I’ve Made. 

 Conveniently ignoring that, I’m going to think about the positives and what I’ve learned since I started this. 

Practicing helps…. My bike rides have got longer, almost without me noticing. Getting out on the bike regularly and riding with people who are faster and fitter have pushed me without me actually realising it. It’s not until I remember my first few road bike rides and compare them to where I am now, that I can see how I’ve improved. I’ve done a few 50 mile rides and survived. I even managed to tackle Talla… and by ‘tackle’ I mean pedalling about halfway up it before stopping, doubling over my handlebars and nearly heaving up a lung. 

Talla Climb

Scottish weather sucks…. I rode in biblical rain for three hours at the weekend which means I’ve now ridden in all weather apart from snow. My least favourite is the good ole headwind which seems to zap my energy and good mood all at once – what a combo!   A close second for the worst conditions was that one evening of the summer when the mayflies get their wings and opening my mouth to breathe or chat was a massive boost to my protein intake as thousands of them seemed to fly right down my throat. 

Grazing is good…. I’ve sussed out the food I need to keep me going on those longer rides and it seems to be small bites, frequently. A wee slice of Soreen or even one of those oat bars that’s drier than the Sahara, work a treat. Eating every half hour and drinking even more often than that has helped keep my energy going and if I’ve mis-timed it, a double espresso caffeine gel has been the answer. I’ve got a really good zipper bag that sits on my cross-bar, from Wee Cog, a cool bike bag company ( ), which is perfect for stashing all that food and some emergency contact lenses in case those mayflies end up in my eyes too.   

You can teach an old dog new tricks…. If they go on a bike skills course. I spent four hours at Fife Bike Park ( practicing lots of things I don’t like doing, on a closed, really smooth tarmac track, with a great group of women and a super positive coach. Practicing things that I find hard, like cornering and descending, on a safe bit of road, without any distractions was such a good way to feel more confident – I highly recommend it.  

Frankie Says Relax…. And so do loads of other people and they’re right. Gritting your teeth on a scary descent will definitely hurt your jaw but it won’t actually help you stay on your bike. Relaxing so the bike can do its thing without you trying to stop it, really does make a difference. I’m a much better rider when I relax a bit – unfortunately, that’s the bit I am struggling with the most. I’m an expert teeth gritter, hand clencher and brake grabber – all of which I now know, are bad news. 

 So maybe by some miracle, I’ll hold onto what I hope will be relaxed holiday vibes and when I get back I’ll be Mrs Chilled Cyclist. We’ll see. 

Categorised in:

This post was written by Alex Simpkin