If you’ve ever played sport and been serious about it, you’ll know how annoying it is when you’re out of form. You might get shouted at from the sidelines, but at the end of the day, you answer only to yourself, and if you’ve been at it long enough, you know the good from the bad…
Right now, and indeed for the past few weeks, I’ve been unable to get out of second gear over the longer period. Don’t get me wrong, I can still chase a KOTP when it’s sitting on a plate, but I’m really struggling to string a long distance gig together. It’s like my brain’s telling me that I can’t ride 40 miles anymore. And it’s doing my head in.
I usually have a huge appetite for tough miles and it’s gone. I’m currently doing the miles because I promised myself and there’s a massive difference. So I went back to the stats to see if I could pinpoint the trigger point. I live my life by data so I reckoned there had to be something in the R2C2 numbers that would show me what’s gone wrong.
What I found was as stark as it is disconcerting. Wind the clock back to Stage 68. That was the day we went to Ireland for a short break and the bike went too. Prior to that, the daily miles were chugging along nicely at a handy 37 while the climbing was comfortable at 34ft per mile. And I was handling it.
Notwithstanding the fact that I didn’t want to fuck up the holiday by spending three hours a day on two wheels, I purposefully cut back and went out early doors: as in before breakfast early doors. But Ireland was hilly. I thought round here was hilly, but Ireland wins. The average ascent during that week was 67ft per mile, double what I’d been used to.
Then I got ill. Jane and I both came back with some kind of virus thing, and for a month my balance was all over the place. The padlocks on the bike shed where I keep the bike are at ground level, and I kid you not, I was like a staggering drunk whenever I stood up after being bent down opening or closing the shed. It’s just as well I don’t do my shoelaces up. Strangely enough, the only time I wasn’t dizzy was when I was out on the bike.
That went on for the best part of a month, and although I promised Jane that I’d go an see the doc if it persisted, I thought at the time that it was a transient thing and that I’d just have to let it run its course. And of course eventually it did, but not before it had done some serious damage to my numbers and my confidence.
On our return, because I was feeling like shit, I purposefully cut back on the miles. But I made the mistake of using that as an excuse to go searching for new, more interesting routes, and guess what? They were hillier than anything I’d done in the preceding 68 days. It wasn’t until I graphed the stats at the beginning of this week, determined to get to the bottom of this, that I realised that there’s a perfect correlation between the progressive increase in climbing and the equally progressive decrease in distance. The crossover happened on Stage 77: that was when the feet of climbing per mile overtook the miles per day, and the gap has grown ever larger to stand currently at five. That’s five feet per mile of climbing more than the average number of miles per day of distance. At the start of September, it was five the other way.
So what to do about it is the question.
Acknowledging and understanding the problem is step one. Stabilising the situation is step two: but that’s not suddenly going flat and long, because I’ve built a resistance to longer rides (three hours plus) so I’m planning on addressing the problem by trying to stay flattish (within reason) while I get my confidence back. That’s gonna sound really stupid, I know, given that I’m averaging two hours and forty minutes for each of the last 131 stages, but that’s where I’m at. There will come a day, and hopefully it will not be too far away, when suddenly everything just clicks back into place and I’ll be good to go again. I couldn’t have picked a worse time for this to happen, coming right at the start of the winter, but I prefer to look upon it as an opportunity: for five long years, I went on about the difficulty of this journey mirroring the difficulty of families putting their lives on hold for their kids. Now it’s my turn to have to get through this, and get through it I will.
In order to cheer myself up, I decided to rip apart the LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma.com website and rebrand it as a Ride2Cure2 site: or at least that was my initial idea. The first task was to export each of the 258 blog stories to Word, because I know that every time I found a typo in the online version, I only ever fixed it there, without downloading the amended version from the cloud. That was job number one, and it took me the best part of two days.
Then I thought “y’know what, LCFN and R2C are my legacy so why should I just throw them away?”
The website I’m building just now is r2c2.news but that url doesn’t square with documenting the whole journey from start to finish so I’ve also taken out the domain Ride2CureNeuroblastoma.com and that’s where the new site will live when I’ve finished it. But you can keep dipping into r2c2.news for now because that’s where the magic’s happening and that’s where you’ll see the new site evolving before Ride2CureNeuroblastoma.com goes live.
The old site was basically a bunch of stories. Well that’s changing too. I’m planning on creating a gallery. But I had another idea while I was out today, and that’s to sell sponsorship pages. I plan on building a whole section of the site where sponsors can promote their business: logos, info, links to their own websites…. All for a donation to either Solving Kids Cancer or Neuroblastoma Australia.
These last few weeks have been as difficult as anything that I can remember. See when you’re feeling good? You can take on the biggest challenges. But see when you’re struggling, that’s when you find out just what makes you tick. I may be out of form, but I’ve still got 131 stages to my name, on the spin, and that’s what this gig is all about.
I don’t just fucking give up because I’m out of form.