Another 130km of pain

All this riding faster than usual is still hurting far too much for my liking. I say this as I hobble about the flat in between cleaning the bike and avoiding smoking.

I’ve finally committed to stopping smoking after all these months. It’s proving tougher than giving up drinking was, maybe because I gave up drinking: What the hell am I meant to do now when I go out with friends other than sit there and sip soft drinks like some sort of sick puritan?

I made the decision as I tried to push my pace up Box Hill and kept on slumping back into the saddle unable to raise my tempo. I really want to do this damned thing in a time I can be proud of and I don’t want to spend the entire day weeping in pain and half-conscious as I crawl up the climbs. Yes, I did have a couple of cigs when i got in but I’ve not had one since yesterday evening.

As with everything I set myself to, this involves sheer bloody minded determination, much like yesterday’s ride. I wasn’t feeling entirely on the pace to start with and kept on sliding down the group on the hills. I tried to pace myself as best I could up them but the extra pace on the flat left me with not much for the gradients and a horrible stinging sensation nagged my legs all the way round.

Despite all these frustrations I was going fine, until I punctured halfway up Ranmore Hill. Normally you are meant to let people know if you’ve got a mechanical problem. Unfortunately I’d just come off the wheel of the rider ahead of me and was wheezing copiously, so this proved impractical.

As I tried to change my inner in a slightly confused state I cursed a bit and hoped someone would realise I’m not that slow and come back down to investigate. Which Justin did, luckily enough, as I battled with mini-pump hell and general mental fatigue. I would get a big Zefal pump if I could figure out where to store it on the bike. Actually I might sort that issue when I take the bike in for its service mid-June.

On the way back I put in a lap and a half of Richmond Park with a drink stop and a stretch for my sore legs. I felt I could have kept on at the easier pace I was rolling along at for a good deal further but as I had to go into town when I got in I thought it best not to kill myself out.

I’m doing at least 200km each week in total at the moment and making best use of the commute for a bit of intensity training but by Friday last week I felt absolutely dead so I’m going to try and allow a bit more recovery time this week and not ride so hard every inch of the way.



With six weeks to go I should be looking to be near my peak soon. I’ve done a 150km ride but not the full distance yet. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I can put in at least a imperial century/160km ride before I start to taper down a bit before the event. I think the weekend before I go out I’ll look to do either a park ride or a more gentle Surrey Hills one. But that’s all a long way off yet and there’s still four weeks to really get myself much fitter.

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  • Kimbers

    Hey Alex, have you seen Allen Carr’s “Easy Way to Stop Smoking” books? I was a pack-a-day smoker for years until last July (stopped 3 weeks to the day before the London Tri.) A friend lent me one of Carr’s books and I read about half of it during the winter of ’04-’05 then realised, “uh oh, if I keep reading I’m going to stop smoking…” and for some deeply-buried subconscious reason I wasn’t ready to do it so I stopped reading the book instead.

    Then last July, one night as I smoked the last cigarette in a pack, I had that slightly panicked feeling that I’d better rush out for more before the corner shop shut. Then I thought, nah, I’ll be okay ’til the morning. And I never actually did buy another pack.

    I’m sure it was a combination of the ideas in Carr’s book and all the training I was doing – my body and mind were both finally ready to stop smoking and it was painless.

    Check out Carr. It worked for me. I hadn’t even intended to quit!

    Good luck with that and on the Etape! I’m misssing those Sunday rides, but getting my vicarious fix here is much easier by the sound of things!