Commuting - Henry Quinney Style
I wouldn’t say I’m lazy - I don’t think that would be fair and, if my employer is reading, it’s definitely not the case. Perhaps it’s more a case of application. I would say that I rarely feel so well applied as I do when I ride my bike. I think the great thing about commuting is that you can bookmark your working day with that sense of application.
I think that it’s healthy to go through the motions in terms of the sensations that we feel. I wouldn’t proclaim to be an achievement junkie but I would admit that I do enjoy a bit of struggling. I don’t feel a massive sense of achievement after relatively short training rides. Sure, when I’ve been in the saddle for hours on end that’s one thing but whilst I’m training I don’t savour it that much, certainly not as much as I used to, alternatively I like the idea of beating the situation or sensation and I can enjoy that in any given moment.
I recently moved back to the UK on a short-term basis. It’s a great chance to enjoy the Euro summer, see my family and get some non-winter “winter style” miles in. At the moment, I’m putting a stress on base miles. I’ve returned to my old work, an independent bike shop based in Cheltenham, and I thought that I could tie in my training around this.
The return trip is around 95 kilometres but, depending on traffic and the way I choose to ride, this has can and does go up to the 110 mark. It’s nice though, after riding so much in Queenstown, I actually really enjoy padding along on the flat roads. It’s almost like a treat. I can ride 100 K and do the same vert that I’d normally do in 30. It’s great. It’s kind of tricking me into thinking that I’m stronger than I am but, after my failed attempt at breaking the end to end record of New Zealand, that’s probably not a bad thing. I ride along these pan flat roads at a previously undreamed of average and pat myself on the back and think that I’m knocking it out the park. Day in. Day out. Deep down I know it’s not the case but it’s nice to believe it. Let some life and confidence come back into my riding and start thinking about bigger days again. I’ve got this idea in my head that I want to ride the length of wales twice in one day. It would only be 500 K or so and the idea just arrested me. I have a busy schedule ahead as this year I’m following the world cup circus wrenching for FS Patrol Funn so I don’t know how I’ll fit it in. But I know they’ll be a way.
My first commute was actually not totally uneventful. After riding in and getting slightly lost on rural Gloucestershire’s back roads, working for 10 hours, skipping lunch, leaving my wallet at the store and deciding to ride home into a strong headwind on an empty stomach I nearly ensured that the commute was a one off. With 40K left I was feeling queasy but I carried on - hoping to just let my legs spin out the miles. With 25 left I genuinely considered knocking on somebody’s door for some food. The final 10 were hard. I was shaking, struggling to keep the bike upright in the harsh headwinds and my vision was failing. I finally made it home. It was horrific. That’s the worst I’ve ever bonked. Undoubtedly. It was also the only time my mother has ever seen me like that and, mothers being mothers, went into a sugar production binge overdrive and now constantly checks up on me every time I ride. It was pretty bad but I normalized it in my head. But, seeing me on the kitchen floor, sweating buckets whilst shaking with cold and not being able to hold conversation must have been quite unnerving. A few nights of low blood sugar sweats followed but I got through it. Can’t say I was firing on all cylinders the next day but I ate a good lunch and got back to enjoying my riding by the time the evening came.
I’m looking forward to summer kicking in. The UK has not been warm. I packed all my winter kit knowing how cold it can get in British spring time but even I have been surprised and occasionally caught out. So far, I haven’t even considered leaving the house at my 7AM departure time without my knee warmers and an intermediate jacket over a jersey.
I’ve already started worrying about training whilst I’m travelling. I’m thinking I might massage my ego more by going to spin classes purporting to be a total newbie - saying things like “Gee Whiz, boy oh boy, you attach to the pedals?! Crazy.” Maybe I’ll give the caveat that I’ve never ridden before and say it’s my first time and that I’m nervous before whipping off stripper style buttoned leggings and going as hard as I can. Nope, no, that wouldn’t be healthy. Joking aside, those high intensity sessions could be perfect to shake some cobwebs out once my base miles begin to taper.
So, here’s to eating well, riding hard and enjoying every second of the commute.