The first weekend of January is a bit of a write off – especially, as per this year when it falls on New Year's Eve and Day – but the remainder of the month is the time in which New Year's Resolutions are made and shattered.
The results of festive excesses, good intentions, and brave new plans are just as evident on ye olde club run as anywhere else, and they’re not hard to recognise.
Here's a few January club run traditions that will be taking place across the country...
Someone has got fat
With the dust settling on mince pie season, most of us have been mainly indulging in the ‘hashtagfestering500’ and are carrying a kilo or so of Grandma’s chocolate log up the climbs.
But there’s always one rider who has really gone to town and looks a bit like they’re trundling along with the contents of an entire Quality Street collection, box and all, under their once well fitting lycra attire.
Someone is flying
At the same time, there’s always one rider who spent the entire festive season trying to escape the mother-in-law by pounding out their frustrations on the turbo trainer, travelling only as far as the garden shed (the maximum distance from The Family allowed) where they’re just able to muffle out the endless Eastenders theme tunes and offers of extra mash with the sound of gear changes and heavy breathing.
The so called ‘Christmas break’ has done them a world of good, they’ve packed in more training than in any other week all year, and are keen to show off the results.
Most people have been ill
The collective chaingang has a distinctly nasal voice, and most of its moving parts are just about able to stifle the cough.
The race-face refusal to sniff of splutter is maintained until the inclines start and the whole pretence of being ‘over it’ is called out by the one hardy member who never gets ill, and delights in telling every other soul about the mate of a mate who overdid it and ended up with pneumonia.
At least one rider is using completely inappropriate kit
There were no doubt gifts under the tree, and some of the children simply can’t resist playing with them straight away.
Deep section wheels nestled beneath mudguards, bested only by glistening carbon frames, naked and missing the essential splatter flaps.
The bleep of new cycling computers and faces of earnest pursuit seeking ‘new FTP detected’ - all signs that Santa has been.
Strava leaderboards have been reset and play havoc
If Training Peaks providing a ‘Best of 2018’ sympathy roundel on every single upload until you’re finally weak enough to perform even worse than you did in the first week of January isn’t bad enough, now there are ‘Best of 2018’ Strava leaderboards.
The whole segment network is a free for all and you’re suddenly someone’s permanent lead out train.
The training camp is fixed upon
With the vast majority of riders feeling wildly out of shape, and everyone missing the essential Vitamin D required to translate miles into smiles, it’s decided that a training camp (note, not holiday) is required.
Mallorca, naturally. March, of course. Which leaves just enough time to find a coach and launch into an earnest 10 weeks of ‘training for the training camp’.
The kit discussion happens (again)
Honestly, everyone knows if you’re having this conversation in January it’s too late, unless you want new kit for 2019.
Yet still the younger members petition for a newer design, ideally one without fonts that don't predate the actual club (circa 1800). The older members like the kit the way it is. Loggerheads ensue.
New members appear
Creeping out from seemingly nowhere, are new members, bright eyed and bushy tailed; keen to make friends, learn lots of maybe enter a race or two.
Plus there’s a few new-old members, who appear to have been hiding out in the pub for the majority of the outgoing year, keen to get back on the pain train for two months before disappearing to do it all again in 2020.
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