This last week or so after a run I’ve found my gaze being drawn towards my Winter bike. Since our sport more than most is closely linked to the seasons, all club cyclists know what’s coming soon!
The worst month in cycling? For me it’s September. It’s the month of transition with the end of mid-week runs, the drop in temperature and the yellowing leaves scattered along the club routes. The chasing each other down for 30s seems old and pointless and that feeling I have in the chain gang of going through the motions – all this belongs to September. At the same time I start to think about Winter and the training that’s to come. All cyclists know the importance of having a ‘good winter’ when your turbo becomes torturer and tutor. But to get into winter you’ve got to get through September…the dead month.
It’s been a great summer for me and one which I didn’t think I would have. In July last year I climbed on my bike for the first time since my accident. This was earlier than the Doctor had said (he’d said Christmas initially). So to get fit (well about 95% fit) and have a full spring and summer this year has been fantastic. I’ve cycled in France, completed a couple of centurion rides and enjoyed some great mid-week runs and club rides. Also one of the pleasures of cycling I’ve thoroughly enjoyed is deciding to just jump on the bike for an hour or two.
Cyclists are attuned to the seasons with each one bringing a different kind of cycling. From spring I watched the barley grass emerge in little shoots then in high summer become golden fields shifting in endless tides. Spring and summer are the times for really hard cycle runs. Then out for a spin you catch sight of the combine harvesters sitting in the corner of a field. The ducks and geese who spend their winter around Caerlaverock begin arriving. I’m spending more time on ebay looking for new guards and winter tyres (might go for continental gator hardshells this year).
One thing which has captured my interest towards the end of summer has been Strava. A number of cyclists in our club have Garmins. I use the strava app on my phone and have started riding against myself on my own routes. It has definitely got me very interested in time trialling, a discipline of cycling I’ve never really taken to. Using the strava app and trying to shave time of your previous best has brought the skill of time trialling into focus – getting into a rhythm, taking bends and corners, pushing yourself all the time. I can see myself entering the club’s TTs next season. I’ve got a new respect for the boys in our club who TT every Wednesday although I’ll probably not stretch to buying a pointy helmet.
But that’s for next year. In the meantime September is upon us. Time to gradually adjust – look out the 3/4 lengths and then the longs. And on the club runs the summer bikes will disappear in ones and twos. Winter runs are great fun and are much more social than the summer rides. It’s funny how the guys you spend the winter riding with laughing and chatting, are the same guys that will be trying to smash you on a climb in the next spring!
Turbo my old friend, my great adversary…I’ll be there soon.