I suppose you could say this was the first day ‘proper’ of the 30 Day Challenge. This was not just about getting out on the bike and riding. This was about doing as I was told. The sheet of paper pinned on the wall next to my desk that passes for a training plan may not look much to the uber-disciplined number-crunchers at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester but to me it’s already giving me a focus.

No longer do I need to set my own schedule, sit around for an hour eyeing the clouds suspiciously and hoping for the roads to dry (procrastinating – come on, we all do it), go out, fall short of what I’d set out to do and feel bad about myself for the rest of the day. I simply look at the piece of paper and do what it tells me – no more, no less. Listen to the paper. All hail the paper.

I have also asked Coach Hannah to only supply me with one week’s plan at a time. This is because I am easily discouraged if the task ahead looks too daunting. If week 3 involves a four-hour ride I will have that in the back of my mind for the next fortnight and I will get worked up about it. Instead of obeying the paper I will be thinking: “I’ll never be ready for a four-hour ride by then.”

So I live in blissful ignorance of what the future holds, which, let’s accept it, is what life’s really all about anyway.

Today the paper had intervals in store for me. After a 20-minute warm-up at base endurance level – the sort of pace that would allow you to easily hold a conversation – the pain and misery started.

Seven minutes – about the length of a Tour prologue – is a long time at lactate threshold. I haven’t worked out scientifically what my lactate threshold is because I can’t be doing with a heart-rate monitor so the handy guide is that you should feel that you’re going hard but not completely flat out and conversation would be limited to one or two-word responses.

After the second rep I needed longer than the prescribed two minutes rest before I did the final seven-minute spurt. Bad boy, obey the paper.

As it turned out, when I got home I realised I had misread the paper and should really only have bothered with two repetitions, not three. I spent the afternoon feeling rather smug, particularly as a colleague said to me on Monday: “I give you three days before you give up.” Yeah, well, take that Doubting Thomas, it’s day three and I’m still here.


20 minutes at base endurance level

3 x 7 minutes at lactate threshold, interspersed with two (alright, at least four) minutes rest

20 minutes at base endurance level

Total time: approx 1hr 15min

Distance covered: 32 kilometres (19.8 miles)

Average speed: 25.6kph (15.9mph)

No. of roadkill spotted: 3

Question of the day: Why does Carol Vorderman need a stool to sit on after she’s done the arduous task of picking the letters? There’s only about a minute and a half between rounds. Can’t these celebrities stand for that long?

WHAT did you do today? How is your training going? Have you witnessed any stunningly poor driving or been on the receiving end of a mouthful from an angry red-faced plumber in a transit van? Tell us on the fitness section of our forum.

TOMORROW: A steady base endurance ride. With company. Hooray. No more Billy No Mates. We may even stop for tea and a bun.