real life cycling

The sliding scale of think

The mind, as you may be aware, is as influential as the legs when it comes to riding a bike quickly. Prior to, during, even after a ride, it’s possible to overthink, underthink, or visit any given point on the sliding scale of think.

This can ruin your ride.

Do it at your peril.

As I contemplated a Sunday morning ride recently, the heatwave hitting much of the UK was showing itself in Lancashire in the form of blustery, chilly, rain threatening conditions. I wasn’t happy.

But weather, in general, is beyond my control.

Control the controllables, you idiot! my inner self-help guru reminded me.

Contemplating, of course, sits on the sliding scale of think somewhere between deliberating and cogitating.

Problem is, all week I’d had this down as a long day on the bike in lizard friendly conditions. My heart had been set on it. But clearly the north of England had its own ideas.

I got cross, and rational thought quickly left the building. By late morning – having still not left the house – I’d convinced myself that it was impossible to enjoy a ride in these conditions. I had budgeted for thirty degrees Celsius and inclusive cloudless skies.

Any attempt to ride in this weather would surely see my recently acquired sun-tan blown clean from my arms by the combination of sudden downpour and freak gust of wind.

I was just not prepared to risk that.

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I flopped onto the settee with my free Sunday supplement Tour de France special and flicked it open.

As I settled in for a good solid hour of brooding my gaze met that of Sean Kelly. The hardest hardman ever to throw leg over a bike. He, passing comment in his role as commentator and expert analyst, seemed be staring, from the pages, into my very soul.

You’re pathetic his eyes seemed to say.

Just stop whining and go for a bloody ride his body language confirmed.

Are you still here? observed my wife, coincidentally wandering past, shaming me with her busy productivity, clearly in collusion with King Kelly.


A fire was (finally) lit.

I stopped thinking and began doing. Kit on, bottle filled, jersey pockets stuffed, I wheeled out into the weather and pointed myself toward the nearest hill. I battered into the headwind, toe to toe, unthinking, in search of my flow.

I pictured Sean Kelly nodding his approval.

Doing, and not thinking.

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