Category: Cycling

A return to the road

So here we are, in April. The days are getting longer, spring is a-springing. Time for the annual running checklist. New shoes? Check. Training plan in place? Kind of. Running lots and lots of training miles? Erm…not so much. Building up to the first big event of the year? Well, yes and no. Yes, I have an event in the diary. But not as I know it. For the first time since 2011, I arrive here without a run in the calendar, this year’s pair of running shoes remain boxed away yet to see the light of day. But why? What happened? Well, dear readers, let’s just say it wasn’t entirely a conscious decision. It all started back in December, at the peak of the daily Marcothon runs (which raised over a grand for the Booth Centre, you lovely lovely people). As is often the way, sat in the pub on a Sunday afternoon with a couple of premium-strength IPAs inside me, I began to ponder. I’d been running every day for nearly a month, and I’d be continuing to keep myself in some semblance of fitness by carrying on all through the Christmas break. The daily runs were getting easier and I’d already chucked a couple of slightly longer ones in on a weekend just for shits and giggles, because I’m a bit odd like that. I’d had an...

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End of the road

Today, I am mostly feeling a bit numb. I didn’t really intend to do a blog this week. In fact, with nothing to train for, I’ve been struggling to even think of a theme for the piece, let alone when I could be bothered to actually write it. It’s just been a lovely, relaxed few weeks really, enjoying my friends, my family, the Tour de France and most of all, the weather. Summer beers in the park. More barbeques in one summer than I’ve ever had before. New and interesting street food. Pleasant walks. A day at the seaside....

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Smashing the half century

All that worrying. All that stress. Would I last the distance? Most importantly, would I even be allowed to complete it? I had literally had nightmares in the days leading up to the race, about everything from crashing, having punctures, getting left behind, being late for the start and many others too bizarre to go into. I struggled to get off to sleep the night before, and as soon as I woke up on the morning – a good hour or two before I needed to – I couldn’t get back to sleep under any circumstances. Constant thoughts of failure prevented me from nodding off, and when it was finally time to get up and about I was so nervous I could barely eat my breakfast. Only twice before have I felt like this on the day of an event; on marathon day back in 2011, and then on the Liverpool half earlier this year. And yet once I’d actually done it and all the dust had settled, this will possibly go down as one of the easier days at the office. Not bad for a double marathon on a pushbike. Full of butterflies, I checked my bike for any issues, fixed my number on the handlebars and peddled the few miles to the start at The Etihad Stadium. It was no more than 200 yards from my flat...

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Moving the goalposts

The last weekend of June is traditionally a time to party. Pretty much every year since 2004, I’ve packed a selection of life’s essentials into a rucksack and made the pilgrimage down to Worthy Farm, Somerset for a week of bands, mud, occasional sunshine and lethal-strength pear cider. Yes, it’s Glastonbury time again. Health and fitness is pushed firmly to the back of my mind as I shovel in a “Pauline Fowler” Growler into my massive face, washed down with a bag of Country Manor before stumbling around in a daze from stage to stage then up to the stone circle to lie on the grass between the campfires, gazing down on 170,000 people without a care in the world. Daily structure goes out the window, the 9-5 suddenly a totally alien concept. Rolling back to my tent as dawn breaks, only to be (admittedly very rarely) woken up an hour later as it’s too hot to sleep. One (usually terrible) meal a day. A lack of any form of respectable hydration. Too much bloody cider. It is one of my favourite weekends of the year. This year though, I am taking a very different approach to the weekend. Full of crushing disappointment at having to hand back my ticket through lack of funds due to Primavera Festival, which I ended up missing anyway because I am an idiot, I will...

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Feeling deflated

Cycling to work was supposed to save me money. When I first moved to Manchester in 2006, my weekly bus pass was £3, which was obviously a ridiculous steal. Now it’s £8.50 and still rising every couple of months. For that, I get unlimited access to a single route up and down South Manchester. Just one. For my annual spend of nearly £450, I get the pleasure of riding on a rickety, rammed bus, in baking heat, with the heaters on full throttle no matter what the weather. Two thirds of the buses at peak time won’t even travel the full route. Sometimes they don’t fancy stopping to pick you up. Now I really don’t have an issue with buses as some people do, you know, the sort who go on about “peasant wagons” and acting as if there is something intrinsically awful about travelling in a big box on wheels with people you don’t know. I just listen to my music and ignore the world anyway. It’s OK. However, when I feel like I am being rinsed for something, I don’t like it. £450 a year for one crap, overcrowded bus route, and then I still have to walk 25 minutes to my office through Ardwick anyway. Well no thanks. Not any more. Since finishing my half marathon training back in March, I’ve decided to go about my commute...

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