real life cycling

The weather, the miles, and the cow-shit

winter road

Call me soft, call me fair-weather, what do I care?

I’m warm, and I’m enjoying a Sunday morning with the papers.

Cycling is still, despite the evidence beyond the bedroom curtains, a sport involving shorts and short sleeves, a sweating brow, and the red parched face of a day in the sun.

A good day in the saddle includes the gathering of salt in the bunches of a lightweight jersey, and a feeling of tiredness, but lightness, and fitness.

But then, in November, after a couple of weeks in denial, it clicks.

It’s a crisp morning and my breath snorts out in front of me, visible. My calves are spattered with mud – Ok, let’s be honest, it’s cow-shit – and the job of the café is to warm me up, not cool me down.

I’m on the right bike, I’m wearing the right kit, and it’s all there to be relished.

Six weeks ago I mimicked Barguil, Froome, and Contador, on long days in the hills – in the very broadest sense, of course, of the word mimic.

Now, along the lanes of Lancashire, I’m in Belgium. I’m in the big ring, crushing it like Van Avermaet.

My mental images are Flanders and Roubaix, Sagan and Naessen, and I’m all about the (sometimes) discredited concept of long, slow, fat-burning base-miles.

The science of it doesn’t bother me. There are more efficient ways to train in the winter, but what do I care? I only need to be as fast (or a tad faster) as last year.

Nothing more.

Long, slow, fat-burning base-miles is what I do. It takes me from café to café. It brings me home with the scorched and wind burnt face of a day in the northern cold.

I wish it were sunny – I always wish it were sunny – but it’s clicked now, so that’s fine. I will attack the weather, and the base-miles, and the cow-shit, until February.

Then I’ll snap, because I have my limits.

I’ll be hanging on for the first trickle of April or May sun. No longer enjoying, but enduring. There will be occasional Sunday mornings with the papers, but the work will be done by then.

Because the work is being done now. Just when I didn’t think it would click, it clicked.

Because it always does.


11 comments on “The weather, the miles, and the cow-shit

  1. Cycling from cafe to cafe sounds like the best thing to do in the world!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s always someone worse off. I live in Norway. So I’m just waiting for the first snow. My commute is often in sub zero temperatures, however at least the cow shit here is frozen.

    Ps..Zwift helps

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Thank you. I need to pump up the tubeless tires on my Zero Nine. It’s been too long. Although there have been 3 major life changing events in the last 10 months, hiking,running,swimming and motorcycling doesn’t replace time in the saddle. I’m alwys eager to read what you have to say even in th worst of times. I know it will all get better. Thanks for keeping you and us going. The Rock

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Right with ya bud! If I can’t be in shorts and short sleeves, it is NOT a pleasant experience. I’ve done the cold winter riding thing… it is effing horrible AND I hardly retained any of my seasonal fitness. ROI? Negative.
    I’ll be calling quits in a few weeks myself. Perhaps the occasional day out on the mtb in the woods if it hits above 45… otherwise…I’ll see my bikes in the Spring! 😛


  5. Just started the long, slow, cold ones myself. Well, not slow enough, with some members of the club still riding at crazy August speeds, the concept of base miles alien to them, their only goal to smash it. Scenery is lovely this time of year, soon will be sunset and sunrise in same ride!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Nine northern winters and one winter bike – road|THEORY

  7. Pingback: Are you guilty of bike neglect? – road|THEORY

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