Katie Archibald column: A born-again bike rider

The cycling forces giveth, and they taketh away

I was out on one of my worst rides 
of all time last week. Nothing disastrous happened. For the 
bulk of it I rolled along by myself listening to a podcast.

Did you know that before trees existed the Earth was covered in mushrooms, some of them up to 24 feet high? I learned that during 
that ride.

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That isn’t what I was meant to be doing. I was meant to be riding in Zone 3. Not that taxing, not that grand an ask, not a session made for heroes. But I couldn’t do it.

At various points I pulled over and stood by the side of the road, contemplating the fact that I simply wasn’t trying hard. I thought if I found the right song I’d also find my mojo. But I never did. And so I got back from that ride and had to face the fact that I was a bad bike rider.

And this was while I was on camp. So I couldn’t just sit at home alone, not upload my ride to TrainingPeaks and keep it a secret that I was a bad bike rider. All my team-mates knew it took me twice as long as them to cover the same distance.

My coach didn’t need to see the training file, he saw the original footage. Everybody knew. And surely everyone was thinking the same thing: Katie isn’t cut out for this. I felt 
sick with anxiety about the fact I’d finally been caught.

That evening my coach suggested I 
take a rest day. By this point I’d lost all language skills since I didn’t know how to communicate to him my guilt at having pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes for this long, but I agreed to the rest day with a mumble and decided to delay facing up to my fraudulent career.

Luckily, through what I can only explain as an act of God, the very next day after the rest… I was gifted with the abilities of a bike rider again!

I can’t explain how it happened. All I can do is express my gratitude that it did. Thank you, mysterious cycling forces of the universe.

Thank you.