Every. Pedal. Rev.

I’m trying to convince myself it’s for a variety of reasons that I struggled. I rode my bike yesterday for around three hours. I felt every single pedal stroke. Most were just an effort. Some smarted like sciatic pain. Only my lungs were spared. Everything else hurt.

It genuinely could be attributable to various things.

It was windy. Extremely so. The first three miles leaving my home are uphill, starting at 25% for a good three quarters of a mile, but easing to less-than-false flats that arc westerly into the teeth of yesterday’s prevailing gusts.

When your last three miles to home takes around five and a half minutes, it tells you something about the ride out

I was generally tired, and this local terrain doesn’t afford one an easy start. I am also plodding around on 38mm Challenge Gravel Grinders which, although unimpeachable for the various road surfaces one encounters around here, aren’t the most sylphlike when it comes to ripping up hills, without having to gear down.

I’m also now using — fitted as standard I must add to this kind of all-purpose machine —  (holds breath) — a compact… So, instead of my once effortless shifting of gears from my datum of 53:17, I now have to navigate gigantic leaps across ratios. These are as jarring to the legs as they are to the eye; straight through blocks are pretty, large chainrings, graceful.

There is also my recent dislocation. For almost twenty years I had the luxury of choosing bespoke routes that accommodated levels of free time and tiredness/enthusiasm. Now my rides are more limited. Beautiful, but definitely limited. I’m still finding my feet around these parts. A few widely scattered cafés would help…

Yet this myriad grasping don’t quite explain the fundamental reason I struggled: I’m getting old. I’m getting soft around the edges. I’m getting comfortably lazy. There is one, and only one, remedy for this current condition: to “get out of my chair” a little more. It’s easily alleviated  (well, easy in theory). Ride more.

Be like Coppi: “ride a bike, ride a bike” ad infintum.

Be tough. Be cool. Embrace the cycling life I once immersed myself into. Early to bed, early to rise, makes the rider happy, healthy, chiselled and bloody hard.

It’s fair to say that I’m at an impasse in my career, and those closest to me know the consternation, and anxiety this has meted out. There are future opportunities, some of which may come to fruition. Yet when regulars in the brewery tap house helpfully suggest that I should take up coaching I smile and politely deflect the conversation. If pressed I have to assert that not only is the market saturated with ‘coaches’, many of whom have no more than a 2:2 in some peripheral academic discipline and a fail-safe business plan — oh…and an internet connection, but that I’m currently not the best man for the job — being a bit soft of late.

It is indeed time to get out of my chair.