DAY 15

I am not a bad person, I just didn?t ride today. I felt terribly guilty because the 30 Day Challenge training plan had me down for a one-hour recovery ride at the very least.

I fell into the traps you always fall into when you mean to go out but never actually manage it. I had planned to get my ride in early, before work, but the weather was so bad my heart sunk immediately. Having spent two hours in the rain and grit on Sunday, riding was the last thing I wanted to do.

So I put it off. I?d get my work done and go out in the afternoon, when things were bound to cheer up a bit, that was the revised plan, and for a couple of hours I really believed it.

But the afternoon came and went and I stayed indoors, making cup after cup of Redbush tea and resolving to get changed ?in a minute?.

In the end, I put myself out of my misery and scratched the day. I wrote ?Rest Day? on my training plan and tried to forget about it. I?d compensate later in the week, I thought. But my failure nagged away at me until it was dark and all chance of a ride had completely disappeared. This is why you should never disobey the paper.

It was not the most auspicious way to reach the halfway mark in the 30-Day Challenge but it did give me time to ponder the uneasy truce reached by the professional teams, the UCI and ASO, the organiser of Paris-Nice ? and more crucially the Tour de France.

For all the column inches pontificating about whether the ?ProTour? teams would be willing ? or even allowed ? to take part, there was little doubt they?d be there.

The teams need the races more than the races need the teams. Patrick Lefevere is one of the loudest when it comes to yelling about how important the riders are. His oft-spouted rent-a-quote goes something along the lines of ?The riders are the actors.? This is true, of course, but if that is the case the famous races are the great works of theatre.

And when it boils down, what?s more important? Romeo and Juliet the play or the teenage actor and actress who take the title role? Because Romeo and Juliet will be performed year after year with a different cast each time.

The riders should remember that in the grand scheme of things they are here today and gone tomorrow.

DAY 16

How did we cope before mobile phones? I spent a few kilometres pondering this after I almost lost my phone on today?s ride. We were flying down a descent and as I bounced over a join in the road my phone made a bid for freedom. I heard it bounce on the road and the moment of sheer panic was totally out of proportion with the prospect of losing a piece of plastic with an LCD display. Yes, I know, it should have been in a zip-up pocket.

When I stopped and turned in the road I found the phone, battery and battery cover scattered across the road. The phone was a bit battered but it still worked. Panic over.

My training partner, Mike, hadn?t heard my shout so I had a bit of a chase to get back to him.

It got me to thinking that a mobile phone is now essential equipment for any ride. It?s right up there with spare tubes, tyre levers and a pump on the checklist of stuff to take. Admit it, who hasn?t run into difficulty ? either the legs have failed or the bike has ? and used the phone to call a friend or relative, or even a taxi?

I have, and I know of at least three very well-known pros who have bailed out by calling for a lift.

Today?s ride was a joy. Easily the best of the bunch so far. Mike and I put the bikes into his minibus ? one of the ones he uses for his cycling holiday operation ? and we drove to the Herts-Bucks border where we completed a relatively flat-ish two-and-a-bit-hour loop. The wind played havoc at times but the change of scenery was a real motivating factor.

Keeping the rides fresh and interesting is becoming tricky, even after a fortnight. The short one-hour rides are the hardest to be motivated for when there are only three or four ways to get away from home and into the lanes. Riding the same busy roads day-in, day-out does get a bit boring and the shorter the ride the harder it is to find some variety.

A colleague suggested getting the train out of town and riding back, which is something I may do next time I am scheduled to have a longer ride. Another plan is to head down to the Hillingdon circuit and do some laps there.

Any tips on how to keep the routes varied would be much appreciated. Check out the fitness section of our forum at www.cyclingweekly.com/forums


Distance covered: 56km

No. of other cyclists spotted: 19

No. of them who waved back: 12

Café stop: Hats off to Cappio?s in Winslow. Excellent beef baguettes and coffee and very friendly service.

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DAY 17

The 30-day Challenge is about to get a whole lot harder. I am moving house at the weekend and every day the list of things to do gets longer, and the time left to do them gets shorter. Training is inevitably going to suffer but, hopefully, the weather will be a bit kinder and it won?t be difficult to get motivated to go out.

Today I managed the grand total of 30 minutes and to be honest it wasn?t really worth getting changed. It?s just I had so many other things to do and my mind wasn?t on the job in hand, which is a disaster when it comes to training.

If the time I?d spent in telephone queues listening to chintzy music waiting to speak to a human being I?d have clocked up a two-hour ride.

I have managed to clear a couple of hours in my schedule for tomorrow but it?s going to be tough to get out every day. I will try my best to stick to the plan over the weekend but realistically I know there?s likely

I know, I know, it?s hard to believe it but life gets in the way of even cycling sometimes.

Have you got some lame excuses for not riding your bike? Leave a message on our 30 Day Challenge forum