Saturday, 26 December 2015

Grey, yet fabulous, December days

It's been a grey ol' Christmas 2015. Grey in colour, but not in atmosphere. After a chaotic year, which I shall recount at some point, it has been a relief to catch our breath and spend some time at home, riding local trails, laying in and laughing with biking friends. The club social group has gone from strength to strength through the seasons, and the wonderful 'Steady Social' rides are no longer restricted to a Thursday evening.

It was great to see a few out on Christmas Day, riding muddy local gems, all smiles despite the cloud enveloping the Worcestershire Beacon. Timbo arrived on a roadie, just to say 'hi', but joined us off-road to the top anyway. Malvern breeds nutcases, it's a fact.

Keith was atop a shiny Trek, for which countdown had begun a few weeks before, Just 15 more days to go....14...13.....

Compromises had to be made today however. Strathpuffer is boding down like a monolith, and preparation has gone to pot since an unintentional peak in the early Autumn. A 1300 DIY Audax at the very start of October gave a much bigger training bounce than expected and I was stronger than ever for a few weeks. I knew it wouldn't last, and deliberately reduced the load and took time to rebuild. However, the rebuild never came, and instead the fitness continued to plummet with nagging legs, a nagging cold and a nagging sense I had stumbled into over-training through chasing boys up and down hills on mountain bikes rather than steadily maintaining a base on smooth tarmac. Work didn't help, as most of November was spent undertaking long site days with heavy kit and climbing ladders relentlessly. More absolute time off of the bike cured the tiredness, but now there is the lack of fitness. Gone, in a big cloud of 'too much laziness'. Less than a month to go and I feel weak, unfit and seriously lacking endurance. My only reassurance is, on a good day, 'shear bluddy mindedness' can keep me going through the darkest and toughest of rides.

So today I had to pass up the chance to slide around in the mud again with friends, as, for the last two weeks, that is about all I have done. To take the day to catch up with myself, let the legs rest from the Christmas MTB socials (of which there has been many) and set up the 29er for a big long steady distance ride tomorrow.

Around mid-morning I realised I had been up for a few hours, and was yet to eat and getting very hungry, so took the chance to take the roadie out for a steady hour of fasted riding. To work on triggering the fat burning metabolism and hopefully induce a bonk. The jury is still out regarding fasted riding, but there is no doubt that learning to 'run on empty' is a key part of endurance stamina. I may go into the practical aspects one day, but for now, I'd rather focus on the ride.

It was wonderful. The grey, yet dry, skies and rushing winds provided the moody surreal backdrop of December, and the shorn leafless hedges allowed the sweeping hillsides of Herefordshire to be appreciated in full, rather than glipsed briefly through gateways. It was great to be back on local lanes, having spent barely any time on the road bike since October.  Before I knew it the hour was over. With no sign of a bonk. Maybe the fat metabolism still kicks in when it needs to afterall......