The Outside

Posted on March 12, 2014. Filed under: bike, computrainer, cycle, Ironman Austria, Uncategorized |

I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like

That is the first time that Freddie Mercury has opened a post on my blog.  And I can say with certainty that it will be the last.  I have been thinking about The Outside a lot and I need to write about it.  Probably incoherently.

It has finally happened.  The cyclist’s solstice.  Two days of sunshine.  It is that critical point in the year when I have to bathe in P20 sun protection on account of being a celt.  I will spend weeks as The Singing Detective but in a month’s time I will have the mahogany face, arms and legs with the pristine tan lines that only mental cyclists can take pride in.  However, triathletes cannot take pride in this the same way cyclists do.  As we look absolute tits when we wear sleeveless tri tops exposing acres of white, bordered by razor sharp  tan lines.  Two years on I have just about lost the Alcatraz scars that I thought were permanently seared into my shoulders.

So, brilliant news – cycling season is here.  Yet the sun brings a choice.  And choice is never good.  Get on the turbo or head to The Outside?

20140306_113430THE OUTSIDE vs THE WEATHER

The most obvious deterrent to riding in The Outside is the weather.

I suffer an extreme version of the Great British obsession.  I don’t know what it is about cycling that makes me think about the weather so much.  As soon as the polar bears stop trying to pinch my scarf, I will be out in open water.  Even if the water is still so cold that my teeth hurt and peeing in the wetsuit only warms me up to hypothermia level.  I NEVER run inside for fear of actually triggering a sweat tsunami and boiling my brain down with a constant background of crap telly.

But I spend 6 months of the year riding on the turbo.  In the Garage.  In the Inside.

Nothing individually phases me.  I don’t mind the rain.  I can ride in the snow and frost.  I hate the wind but MTFU and all that.  But between October and March unless there are babes on the beach in bikinis I would never contemplate going to The Outside.  It’s a funny one because I ALWAYS enjoy it when I get out, even when riding flat out in the small ring, DOWNHILL, and barely moving against the wind (that actually happened.  A proper SHUT UP LEGS moment).


It takes more time to ride outside.  It just does.  More kit to put on, more kit to wash, bikes to wash, degrease and lube.  It might be minutes but piled on top of a 10 to 14 hour Ironman training week it is still borrowed time.

The turbo is also pretty efficient – no traffic lights, no junctions, no downhills.  So if every minute is focussed on the training objective the turbo is a real asset to a time-stretched Ironman.  But cyclists can get all judgie about turbos, and some even troll good folks on twitter.  That’s just not on.

Everyone gets that riding outside is essential.  Hills build strength, position on the bike is better, rolling resistance on the road and with wind are more challenging.  We get it.  But sometimes with a 10 to 14 hour training week we have to make judgement calls.

photo (15)


I love riding my bikes and I particularly love riding them in The Outside.  But at this stage of the season I am man enough to ‘fess up to The Fear.

I’m comfortable with my bike handling skills, I can hold my own on the road and I’m even a big enough boy for any debate at traffic lights to end in my favour (however, the altercation with Fat Man during the Big Weekend 2011 may not have been my finest moment of manhood.)

But I can’t be the only cyclist whose shoulders are constantly tense listening to approaching cars from behind and wondering whether they have seen me in all my stroboscopic flashing, hi viz glory.

I’m a driver too.  A pretty good one, I think, but whether in the car or on the bike I witness things on the road that horrify me and question the humanity and intelligence of some of my fellow road users.

The Deliberate Intimidators are the most conspicuous offenders; but they are clearly just guys with tiny knobs who are unlikely to want “a chat” at the next traffic lights.  The Idiot Misjudgers are the first specimen of really dangerous characters but really they are simpletons to be pitied – who thinks giving a cyclist on a pot holed road 6 inches to spare when driving a couple of tonnes of steel is going to end well for anyone?  But there should be a circle of hell reserved for The Important.  The absolute knobjockeys who think that texting, phoning, tweeting or whatever while driving is a good idea.  Because they are too Important to wait until it is safe to do.

I am a considerate cyclist but I will own my share of the road.  If I am riding with someone and it is safe to do so, we will ride two abreast, a right the law affords us.  I am very reasonable.  However, if you drive too close to me, cut me up or knock me off my bike you had better prepare yourself for a whole maelstrom of anger.  And bad words.  And perhaps even the forceable removal of bits of your car.

I am not A Cyclist.  I am Dougie.  I am a Daddy.  Think about that when you overtake a cyclist.  Please.

I want to ride my bicycle. I want to ride it where I like.

And that stream of consciousness is all I really have to say about The Outside.

In other news, last week was the biggest training week since pre Ironman taper in July 2011.  Individually I have enjoyed….

At 4000m the longest swim since the Great Big Shit Swim at Outlaw 2012

At 65km and 750m ascent the longest ride since the Escape from Alcatraz in 2012

And at 10 miles the longest run since London Marathon 2012.  Luckily, unlike London, I neither vommed or suffered the trots during this run.

The show feels very much on the road with 16 long weeks to go.


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