Having been frozen to the core for the benefit of our sister magazine Cycle Sport in Holland, Belgium and Northern France for two days – read about our exploits in the May issue, on sale April 5 (gratuitous plug over) – I needed a day off. That became two days off the bike and then three. I did get back into the saddle at the weekend but went for a spin with a friend so my final fit test time trial had to be postponed.
Eventually, on the warmest day of the year so far, according to Peter Cockroft on BBC News’ lunchtime bulletin, I kitted up and hit the road, prepared to hurt myself.
For those who haven’t been following the 30-Day Challenge (firstly, why not?) a recap. The idea was to see how fit I – a lapsed sportive rider who’d been off the bike since November – could get in 30 days, Morgan Spurlock style.
Following a proper grown-up training plan devised – or copied out of a text book, I’m not sure which – by Coach Hannah I started from a pretty low base. After a ‘getting to know you’ ride on Day 1, I tackled a 21-kilometre (13-mile) loop near my home as hard as I could so as to measure the improvement at the end of the challenge.
I coughed, wheezed and generally cursed my brain for coming up with such a stupid idea for the whole 48 minutes and eight seconds it took me to ride the route. That was a not-disgraceful but by no means impressive 26.1 kilometres per hour (16.3 miles per hour).
In the 30 days I cursed the state of the roads, waved my fist angrily at too many inconsiderate drivers to mention, got soaking wet too often, punctured only one – on Day 1, would you believe. I rode in England, France, Belgium and Holland.
I moved house, twice I rode with stinking hangovers that made me feel like the Borrowers were panel-beating the inside of my skull, I missed days – mostly because of the house move and work commitments and only twice through a complete lack of motivation.
Throughout the challenge, and quite unexpectedly, quite a following has gathered on the fitness section of our forum – www.cyclingweekly.com/forums – and I have enjoyed reading the progress of the characters who started the Challenge with me. If you still have time to go, keep at it.
Get on with it, stop waffling, give us the numbers.
When I completed the circuit the stopwatch said? drum roll? 43 minutes and 49 seconds. I had beaten my previous time by 4-19, covering the course at an average speed of 28.7kph (17.8mph).
That may not sound earth-shattering but it’s a fairly lumpy course and, when you look at it, it’s an improvement of more than 10 per cent. I ought to say that both rides were undertaken on still days, although it was significantly warmer on my second ride.
The other indicator of my improvement was weight. I have lost just under three kilos and now hover fractionally above 82 kilos. My trousers feel looser and generally I am becoming less flabby, which has to be a good thing. This is despite having failed to observe what would be described as a perfect diet. Moving house has meant too many convenience meals and too much beer.
So, what now? Well, I carry on riding. As a goal-orientated person I tend to struggle when there’s not a purpose so if anyone has any wacky challenges out there you’d like me to take on, feel free.
In the meantime, I shall continue riding and have pencilled in two dates – the Chiltern 100 Sportive in early June and the Etape du Legende in September. Bring them on.
Thanks for reading, keep in touch on the forum and most of all, good luck out there and enjoy your cycling, whether you’re racing seriously or just starting out, we’re all part of the same club.
Days ridden: 21
Days rested: 9
Kilometres covered: 774 (480 miles)
Starting weight: 85kg
Finishing weight: 82kg