During the winter, club cyclists have only limited access to their bikes. It’s the weekend mainly although some of the guys cycle back and forth to work or do a spot of night riding (with the right sort of lights of course) to get the miles in. I’ve only cycled at night once and I loved it. The audax boys have told me of their exploits about cycling through the night and seeing the sun coming up. I would really like to do that some time in the future – all day cycling. Mostly during the winter though it’s turbo time with some cross-training.
But once the clocks change at last and you’re driving up fitness levels there’s lots more time on your road bike with the ‘mid-weeker.’ Everyone enjoys these runs even those cyclists who are in the middle of the TT league or racing season. This year thanks to our Club’s route planner, Dumfries Cycling Club have had a great spring and summer of mid-week runs which is amazing given the poor weather. They’ve all been well attended usually in warm sunshine with upwards of 16 riders out for an evening of 30 – 40 miles.
Why are these runs proving so popular with club cyclists? Perhaps because the mid-weeker has everything after a pent-up day of work; a lot of joking, some chat about the weekend’s cycling or progress in TTs, some hard hills and a good work-out in the chain-gang. And after a stormy wet winter we can at last escape the turbo of torture in the garage and the blast of the ipod in your ears and get out and enjoy cycling.
Of course there’s also the amazing scenery in the south-west of Scotland which is a perfect backdrop to the whole night. Riding through this great landscape I sometimes think of Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner and that famous scene when he says to Harrison Ford...’I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the darkness at Tannhauser Gate‘. If I had the chance I would probably interrupt him and say ‘Yeah whatever Rutger, I’ve seen Criffel wrapped in the golden tinsel of a sunset and heard wild birdsong echo through the hills at Speddoch.’
During a mid-weeker, no matter what their level of fitness, everyone has a go for the 30s and I mean everyone! If you get a pasting at a 30 you’re going to hear about it for the next 10ks or until another 30 sign looms up. It gets so competitive that one of our members ‘won’ a 30 using what can only be described as the bus lead out method. It’s not a technique you’ll see in a Cavendish/Griepel sprint. We all went into single file to let an oncoming bus through. The rider in question was at the front and took full advantage of the bus hemming us in to ‘win’ his 30. The debate about this ‘strategy’ lasted quite a while (all in good humour).
Although the mid-weeker lacks the sometimes serious miles of the main Saturday club run or speed training, it’s definitely a good training night without pressure. When the summer arrives and everyone is fit, the bunch moves along at pace. It’s great to feel your legs spin freely and hear the unique whir of hubs and cogs.
But there have also been several occasions when the heat has been turned up during a mid-weeker. One evening I went out a bit earlier as it was a lovely evening of warm sunshine and met up with the club later. It turned into quite a night. I was on my Tommasini with a 50 on the front and I was running out of gears at one point trying to keep up.
One thing to be careful about is when to eat for a mid-week run. No time for dinner as everyone is usually out by 5.30. So you’ll need to grab something earlier but lunch is too early. Of course by the time you get in you could probably empty the biscuit barrel before you’ve even showered. If you’re on a regime then eating after a mid-weeker means you’re going to struggle to avoid a wee treat.
Even if you love your job as I do, mid week at your work can be a drag. So if you’re a club cyclist you’ll probably be watching the skies from your window and glancing at the clock, hoping the hours slide away till you can tuck some spare tubes in your back pocket then walk your bike out of the garage into the sun.