Gearing Up

Cwmcarn New Year's Day ride

January. The best thing that can be said about it is that it is not February. Or December which tops my personal hate list due almost entirely to the incessant Noddy Holder experience, and an unwanted immersion to a frenzied hybrid of greed and stupidity.

January isn’t without comedic merit however. And salad. And forced abstinence. And hand wringing over another year gone. The best way to view such nonsense is from a patronising stance of Schadenfreude. Positioned on the margins, laughing at others primed to fail may at least raise a smile while it’s grumpy and horrible outside.

Inside tho, goals must be secretly set. Not for public hubris tapped out by Internet keyboard warriors, or some proud boast that’s easy to say but impossible to do. Start small and work down has served me well so far with 2011 seeing 10{45ac9c3234d371044e23e276755ef3a4dde8f1068375defba7d385ca3cd4deb2} more riding than the previous year. More climbing, longer distances albeit with counter-intuitive less time and frequency.

Much is down to the call of the tar-side and losing almost a month of mountain biking to a busted elbow and vocational angst. So for 2012, a further 10{45ac9c3234d371044e23e276755ef3a4dde8f1068375defba7d385ca3cd4deb2} would crack the 4,000 kilometre threshold and near 100,000 metres of climbing. The targets themselves are unimportant, merely motivational sticks to beat myself when it’s dark, wet and cold outside. Like right now.

Because when it’s light, dusty and warm come Spring, then that hard won fitness in the winter is a pretty big component of what makes chasing the sun home on rock hard trails the joy it always is. Something to keep in mind when heading out into the grim accompanied by two other mud maniacs whose will to ride is stronger than the gravitational pull of the sofa.

I think of us as the Flipperarti* slopping out every Wednesday come rain, rain or fluffy rain. While others self medicate, the hills are both ours to ride and also to wear. Kit stays clean for the 12 hours between washing machine cycles, bikes suffer weekly cold washes from a high pressure hose, bearings squeak, brake pads dissolve and components expire. Speeds are down but crashes are up, great trails hide under dirty water and every climb is pushed into a bastard headwind.

Sounds rubbish? Feels rubbish sometimes as well which had led to a) the twenty minute rule and b) the emergency tenner. a) ensures we get out however biblical conditions are and only if all three moist-a-teers call it can the ride be terminated once the timer has expired. So far never happened** b) ensures that the 20 minute threshold is buttressed with funds for a pub stop if things haven’t noticeably improved.

We’ve checked off the pre-ride and in-ride plan. All that’s missing is a minimalistic approach to post-ride filth. Heated workshop equipped like a triage station – tarp on the floor, workstand ready for the patient, fluids all to hand and throwaway towels by the roll – dry clothes, warm showers finished by choccy and beer.

So far, so moderately adequate when I’m in the county. Harder with work looming far from home. Then it’ll be the road bike hidden in the car and some random perambulation of industrial estates and dual carriageways if history teaches us anything. So I’ve invested in a Garmin Edge 800 with a navigational capability cunning enough to mitigate my inability to remember which door I just came in. Or so the Salesman told me. And they never lie either. He told me that as well.

With working-away riding being a solo affair, further motivational prodding was clearly required. Some kind of stupid event that I’d hate every minute of. Paying good money to hurt myself and be humiliated by others. But – thank-you-God – the HONC was sold out as was the Dartmoor Classic which sadly merely opened up the weekend to ride the Peak100.

I suppose it does support a great charity and I get to wave two fingers at bits of Lancashire. At least it’ll be proper Northern with lard sandwiches at the feed station. And I’ll be proper rubbish, but if it makes me go outside in that –> then it serves a higher purpose. That being me not transformed into a blobby horror, and the award of a small mid-week beer as a reward.

Yes it’s still stupid. But I quite like stupid. It feels like home 😉

* like the Twitterarti only damper. Less concerned with current events than the current weather forecast. And swearier.

** Looking outside, could well be tonight.

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