Time is flying; the hands on the clocks keep spinning and winter is upon us again. Ignoring the sceptical October rumours, the snowy season is also creeping in with first reports of the white stuff terrorising areas of the country. The idea of cycling through some fresh crunchy powder sets off an excited little buzz in my brain after some fantastic winter riding last year.
Its also been a two month struggle against my own fitness (or lack of), fighting off cold after cold after all manner of vitamin supplements, chomping down on my own bodyweight in fresh fruit & veg and trying to clock up as many bonus hours of sleep as possible it is the latter that has proven most beneficial. The heady summer of training, competing & busy personal life had taken its toll so sod it, with the nights drawing in Ive taken on more of a life of a hibernating furry creature!
Its working. The colds are passing quicker, physical strength is returning and most importantly, the mojo is rising motivation is returning. My mind is turning to competition for 2012, and a winter of biking.
Dont be put off by the icy touch of the morning, or the pitch black of the evening. Once youve braved the back door, warmed up sauntering to the first junction, hit the first rutted climb and eased yourself into the first quick down, at every turn you will be rewarded by a fresh sensation.
Slipping, sliding around, the grin factor goes through the roof. Drop a few PSI out of the tyres to gain a bit more purchase if you find the going a little too treacherous and keep the speed down until you get the feel of the bike sliding out from underneath you on the bends. Kick your leg out on the inside for a bit more confidence on the corners, and if the grip does let go youll be able to right yourself a bit easier!
The uber-quick, dusty trails of the summer may have gone, but theres a whole new world to experience for the next four months, get out the warm gear and make the most of it!
Check out a recent top tips for winter riding feature in BikeMagic for a bit more encouragement
A month. It’s flown by if truth be told, but when you think about the numbers; 4 weeks, 28 days, 672 hours – reality bites.
It’s a period long enough to put a hefty dink in the previous 6 months of riding & fitness training if you’re hit by illness, injury or any other circumstances to prevent you swinging your leg over the loyal steed. I’ve just been through some of those very circumstances, with chest infection, sickness bug, man flu & stress, September has been a month of frustration. Made moreso by seeing my friends participating & performing well in events that I had been looking forward to with big ideas. It was not to be.
My first ride out with my training buddy Fruity this evening brought a renewed vigour, a little inspiration (that regaining my level of fitness from a month ago was within reach) and a simple reminder that what goes around, comes around. I have had a great summer competing in endurance & singlespeed competitions, achieving more than I ever had done in previous years but the reality that there will always be somebody out there quicker, stronger & fitter than you is always prominent in my mind. Fact.
A confession: I think I suffered more mentally in the last month than in physical well-being, throwing dark clouds over the self-confidence I have been working on – yup, it’s all about the mojo. Establishing your self image, knowing who you are and then looking at your (recent) achievements & reviving ambition from deep down, thrusting it into the spotlight. You are what you achieve? It’s not as outlandish nor boastful as it sounds – consider what you could achieve in your lifetime, and then consider how it would make you feel. In my minor existence one of my ambitions is to achieve a win in a mountain bike endurance event in the coming months and despite the last month of toil, armed with the reality of the predicament (someone will always better you in time) I found that I was able to rationalise my situation and pull myself up out of the preverbial gutter and grab back hold of the ladder rung. Resume climbing!
So what would I like for you to take from this brief rambling about what essentially has been a rather dull few weeks of my life? Never give up. Find your ambition, and grab it with both hands. For every blow, if you can stand again you will find that you will be that much stronger.
Go on, get out there and do it. : )
Ok aside from the obvious DONT CRASH! there are some simple steps to take that will ensure that your knees dont explode after long periods of cycling
and yes that does include Singlespeed
1. Seat height: a general rule of thumb that I always follow and found to be pretty accurate for comfort and least pressure on the knee is to place your heel on a pedal on the most downward position of the crank (whilst sat on the bike obviously!). Your leg should almost be straight
not out-stretched. Here are some great seat-height setting methods to try
2. Saddle position: this may well be personal preference and will relate to the size of frame you have chosen, but I have found that getting the right combination of seatpost type (i.e. inline or layback) and setting the saddle in the correct horizontal position can make a huge difference. I aim to seat myself as close to vertically above the crank as possible which has given me immediate relief from the iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) I was suffering over recent endurance races, There is a raft of seat positioning videos on youtube
3. Go clipless: dont let the stigma of embarrassing crashes put you off trying clipless pedals, if you have wandering feet they can help you maintain the correct foot position as you pedal and provide a more positive drive failing that make sure you wear some sticky trainers to help on flat pedals
4. Glucosamine: take it daily – its not a sign of age, its lube for your joints in the same way you would lube youre chain, and you dont want to be replacing them like an abused, stretched chain now do you?!
5. Warming up / warming down: even just some simple stretches can be enough to get some warmth into those knees and warming down can be just as important here is some great stretch information
Enjoy many more years of pain-free cycling, pay attention to what your body is telling you if you get a twinge in a knee then maybe its time to change the way you are riding, and the above steps are a good starting point. For more information on knee pain check out http://www.bigkneepain.com/