November ramblings: routine changes and decision-making

Featured header image taken by/used courtesy of Chihiro Sati Gilmore (03/11/18).

I’ve been remiss. It feels like a long time since I posted. I, like so many, have struggled a bit with the change of season and the darker evenings.

Work drains me and I find I have little energy to much in the evening. Mid-October, however, is when Turbobeat starts. On Tuesdays I switch from BMXings to go turbo-training with Elite Cycling in Crystal Palace, South London. It’s not too far from where I live to be a battle to leave the house again after work when it’s dark and cold. Proximity is key for me in terms of being able to sustain activities when it’s colder and greyer. What I’ve noticed particularly about these sessions is how I can pedal out the anxiety and stresses of the work day. It’s so physical I *have* to focus on what I’m doing. At the same time I only have to focus on pedalling. Coach Paul Mill prompts us when to change gear or cadence, build up heart rate, start and finish the reps. I don’t have to think much at all – just do. No decisions to make. Afterwards I’m tired but energised and satisfied. The data from the session gets sent shortly afterwards so you can get an idea of your improvements over the weeks. This training helps to keep my sanity over the winter.

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Killling time in the velodrome before BMXercise…

I managed to get a cheeky BMXercise session in a few days ago too – my first experience of the Olympic track at Lee Valley Velo Park. It was fab – longer and a bit… sharper… than BMX Track London in Peckham. Full laps were knackering! Headwind on the first and third straight contributing. It was good to see some familiar faces from the Peckham women’s sessions over in East London along with coaches Jacks, Farran, and Silvi. Some of them have ridden a number of tracks around London. We’re particularly fortunate in South London – Greenwich, Brixton, Peckham, Merton, Norbury. Some of these aren’t able to offer evening sessions during the winter as they don’t have floodlights. The Olympic track was pretty amazing though – the view from the start hill is pretty amazing! I also nipped in to the velodrome for a coffee before the session – found a real suntrap of a seat looking SW across the park.

I surprised myself by being able to venture over to East London at the weekend. It helped that I’d already planned to meet a couple of people in town earlier to hand over a bike I’d sold. (And one of the women at the session kindly give me a lift back – thanks Pam!)

Usually I’d go out each Saturday for a ride into Kent for perhaps 2-3 hours. I haven’t done that for a few weeks. Partly because I’ve been out of London (family duties), partly weather, partly tiredness, partly aiming to do a nearby Park Run. It feels a bit strange not to do a regular Saturday ride – I am so much a creature of habit – but I’m gradually becoming ok with the changes I am making. Cycling will always come first though. I found myself looking at the t-shirts of some of the other runners and thinking, ‘why would I ever run 26 miles when I could cycle?’

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Pre-Dulwich Park Run
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Post-Dulwich Park Run

Anyway, I digress. And I’m going to digress further.

Recently I joined Alex and Jenni of the Wheel Suckers Podcast to chat a little bit about Bikes and Brains, and my experience, and bikes. There were plenty of things I didn’t get around to saying but hopefully it will be diverting. It should be up on the site in the next few months.

Anxiety can sometimes interfere with my decision-making and I wrangled for too long recently over whether to go to turbo-training or meet friends for dinner. I find myself trying to make the ‘right’ decision. I want there to be a right decision. I’m still trying to convince myself that the decision you make can be just that… no right or wrong. Things then turn out as they turn out. I considered the level of regret I would feel if I didn’t go for dinner, also weighing up the mental effort it might require to travel there after a tiring day. In the end I chose dinner with my friends Marco and Grahame, and Grahame’s friend Charlie Kelly. Those of you who are bike nerds, or mountain bikers, or bike history buffs will know that Charlie (with Joe Breeze, Gary Fisher, and Tom Ritchey) basically invented mountain biking. Charlie is a lovely guy and the chat flowed easily. As you might imagine, he has some great stories to tell. He’s been over here doing talks and highlighting his book that came out in the UK last year – you might want to take a look yourself: Fat Tire Flyer . Safe to say that at the end of the evening I felt content with my decision to go to dinner. (I consciously avoided using the word ‘right’ in relation to my choice.)

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Mountain biking legend Charlie Kelly

Safe to say that at the end of the evening I felt content with my decision to go to dinner. (I consciously avoided using the word ‘right’ in relation to my choice.)

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Do you have any routines, hints, or tips to get through the winter? Or ways to help decision-making? What particularly troubles you at this time of the year? Do give me a shout via the contact page (I could compile them into a list to share).

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