It’s just like riding a bike. Right?

It’s been a total (re?) baptism of fire. Mentally and physically. My bits are in, err, bits. #TMI. How the hell did I once upon a time have the ability (and clearly hardened backside) to ride for hours on end? Feels like a distant golden memory. Years of heavy travel for work have led to a decline in the time available to ride and a sharp incline in my kit size. Being in Hong Kong right now where we still have some relative freedom to be outdoors, and with no travel for work has meant I can start riding regularly again. Great news. Kinda.

It’s been far from a hop on and ride into the sunset type experience. Far far from it. I’ve been a nervous wreck. I don’t even think I was this nervous when I first took to the bike. So what the hell is going on? Where on earth does our confidence go? Clipping in, skinny tyres, steep hills: it’s brought me out in a grumpy rash. I’m slowly getting over it now and finding some flow but it’s not easy and there is a way to go yet.

Years of heavy travel for work have led to the decline for riding time and the sharp incline in my kit size.

A few things that have come to mind I thought was worthwhile getting down on the screen. I know many of us right now are not able to ride. Perhaps there has been enforced time out of the saddle due to injuries, babies, work, pandemics. Y’know, the usual. Perhaps sharing my recent holy crap how do I do this again might help a few of you.

Finding your Shit*. And keeping it in one place.

It’s the easiest way to get out of the door. 1- knowing where your Shit is and 2- how to use it. It’s the classic “I know I bought this really useful tool with 100 options to take off a tyre but where the heck is it?” type situation.

Once you’ve found said Shit, ridden with it and returned, don’t do what I do which is to fall through the door, remove clothing and scatter things everywhere before placing head in the fridge. That won’t help with the routine thing. Have a place where the Shit goes and for gods sake put it in that place when you get back before you raid the fridge.

*Shit in my world right now includes: Helmet, glasses, pump, inner, tyre levers, multi tool, Gillet, face mask, hand sanitizer and mental commitment.

Back to school bag pack

That’s right people, we’re going back to the packing your bag the night before school mentality. I know it’s boring and basic but how good were those snacks when a little bit of thought went into it and did you ever forget your PE kit when you prepped? So depending on what you’re riding and where you are going, my getting going again checklist is:

  • Bike in one piece
  • Tyre pressures
  • Batteries charged (bike, lights, computer)
  • Bottles in fridge
  • Shit in place
  • Snacks laid out
  • Kit coordinated (maybe just me on that one? Whatever)
  • Something in the cupboard for breakkie
  • Having a planned route

Aiming to get outta the door on time and the reality of it happening can be greatly improved by the Night Before Prep . And then you can feel like a smug git and put it all over the internet.

Relax.

I’m no expert. But if you haven’t been riding or in a regular exercise routine, you are not going to be chunking it up hills in the way you used to or clocking up the KM’s. The mid thirties are hitting my waist and thighs like there is a deep winter coming. So, get into the rhythm and relax into it. Feeling strong? Push on. Feel like crap? Drop down a gear or two and get your head up, Froomy. Going slower absolutely has its perks which for me right now includes having the time to gawp at mega mansions. You’ll chunk up hills again, if you want. Just maybe not for the next few weeks.

Luckily, Hong Kong is super flat, so it’s an easy way to get back riding. Said no one ever.

My plan right now is to just ride a few times a week. I’ll do that for a few weeks then think about increasing some time or distance when it feels right to do so and quite frankly when my arse stops hurting so much. For now stops at cool BAAW locations are totally part of getting going again.

Specially commissioned wall to match jersey

Remembering tips for confidence

There are way too many things that currently terrify me riding my bike in Hong Kong. I’m sure I’m not alone with some of these.

  • The gaps in the road (big enough to slip a skinny tyre down, and while on that note….)
  • Skinny tyres
  • Hong Kong minibus drivers. As Rich refers to them “the cowboys”.
  • Roads. Generally.
  • Slippy corners
  • Descending
  • Clipping in
  • CLIPPING IN AT TRAFFIC LIGHTS ON A HILL. FML.

Sounds like an absolute hoot this road cycling malarky! Literally exhausted after every ride when there is this much mental noise going on. I don’t have the solutions to all of my fears yet but I am attempting to keep the following things in mind on my rides and it’s helping:

  • Remembering skills, like placing weight on the pedals and handlebars in the right place on cornering
  • Trusting my equipment
  • Taking my time to think through the road ahead: early enough gear changes, getting in the drops for steep descents, that sort of thing
  • Clipping and unclipping on both feet when I ride along.
  • Getting right outta the way of waiting cars on hill starts. I don’t need that sorta pressure, thanks.
  • Remembering what I used to tell other people when they were nervous too!
  • Listening to my partner in crime, and being grateful for his patience!
Can’t wait to get riding with others again to find more confidence.

Enjoy it.

This post is not a revelation, it’s just a reminder that perhaps sometimes we lose our confidence and need a little help to get going again, WHEN you can get going again. Going back to relative basics is not at all a negative thing, and well sometimes starting again just makes things even better than they were before.

In the meantime….

There are a few cool bicycle related fundraising opportunities ongoing in these challenging days. Noted a few here. Donate if you can:

Unity Jersey 2020 by Velcocio. They say:

“This year’s Unity Jersey is aimed to give aid to those who need it in these times. 100% of the profits from the effort will support three non profit organizations. Save the Children / No Kid HungryProject C.U.R.E. and The Coronavirus Relief Fund, all crucial nonprofits aimed at stemming the impact of COVID-19.”

Details here.

World Bicycle Relief urgent appeal. They say:

“World Bicycle Relief announces an urgent appeal to support 2,500 frontline health workers in rural Africa with Buffalo Bicycles. The bicycles are a reliable form of transport for health workers who provide essential care, prevention and health education in these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic. “

Donate here.

G’s Zwift Shifts for the NHS charities. He says:

Geraint Thomas said: “Like everyone around the country I have been humbled by the hard work, bravery and professionalism of the NHS. I was chatting to Sa to see what we could do to show our support for all the front line workers so – I’m doing the only thing I know how to do and getting on my bike! I know this is a hard time for everyone but I hope that people will be able to make even the smallest donation to a great cause.” 

Donate here.

2 thoughts on “It’s just like riding a bike. Right?”

  1. I hear the confidence thing.
    Mine is riding in traffic back in UK with aggressive drivers. I hate the amount of cars and pollution and lack of cycling infrastructure. But once I’ve done it a couple of times I know I’ll be ok. In these times too, when I have been out, car drivers are going past me more carefully. Like everyone’s realising for the first time we are more vulnerable road users!

    1. I think if this can make us all slow down a little and think of others a bit more, then that’s no bad thing at all right 🙂 Keep safe and enjoy your riding! x

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