The end of a season is always an exciting time. You have all these great plans of doing NOTHING! You tell yourself that you’re going to go out partying Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Sleep in and not exercise. Let dust build up on the bike. You convince yourself you are going to do what non-triathletes do, whatever that is (I’m still trying to work it out). All goes well for a few days, and then you start to miss your mates who you usually see daily at training. You start to feel ‘fat’ (let’s be honest – you know you’re not). And finally, you just miss being out training. It’s a triathlete thing.
Just because you miss training, doesn’t mean you have to stick to a regiment routine you are used to. Being off season is the perfect time to reinvigorate your love for the sport. You can do what you want, when you want – and the best part – because you want. Having got into Instagram the past few months I see daily all the amazing places people have been riding – yet I was sticking to my routine Hawthorn Velodrome/Kew Boulevard/Beach Road routine with training sessions to smash, and race goals to hit. I was jealous of what I was seeing and had a desire to just get out there and ride and discover new places.
I work in the construction industry and Easter is almost a shut down period like Christmas. Frustrating if you want to accrue annual leave, however after being told to take an extended Easter break – just one week after my last race of the season, I saw a golden opportunity to get out and ride. Gone was the plan to do NOTHING, and in was the plan to ride until my heart was content!
So began my Easter Cycling Binge. After 3 days of drinking and playing a tennis tournament with friends, I kicked off a different type of binge. It was meant to be just 3 days worth of riding, but I ended up doing 5 big days in the week, totally over 510km’s, more than 21hrs of riding and nearly 9000m of climbing. Three of those days (about 15hours) I did on my own. A few people thought it was weird, some worried for my safety, others I think for my sanity! I asked around for people to join me but no one else had annual leave during this time. I had a choice, miss out or do it solo. It was a simple decision in my mind, I am a stubborn person and refuse to rely on others to do things I want. The experience was very new for me and so much more rewarding than I was expecting. On the second day at the top of Mt Buller, stuck in a rain cloud where I was wet, cold and couldn’t see, I was honestly scared. I wasn’t having fun and questioned what I was doing. But I stuck it out and got home. Facing that sort of challenge and having to deal with it completely on my own because there was literally no one to call ended up being very rewarding. I was proud of myself. There aren’t many times in your week or month or even year that you pat yourself on the back and say well done. It then meant the next day that I went out, I appreciated and loved the days ride even more than usual because the sun was shining and it all seemed so much easier than the day prior.
My Cycling Binge was one of the most rewarding things I have done for myself and cannot encourage others enough to set themselves a personal challenge. I have reinvigorated a love for cycling within myself I didn’t know was truly there. I spent long hours on my own which I would never normally do and was forced to quickly learn to enjoy my own company. I saw new places and new scenery, and pushed myself physically and mentally. I also stayed on an isolated farm I had never been to on my own, which was also a new experience (and another somewhat scary thing!). It was great to truly step out of my comfort zone – and by doing so I was rewarded with an amazing week of cycling and an increased love for cycling.
Now it’s Friday afternoon – can’t wait to get on the bike tomorrow morning!
For those interested here is a quick summary of my riding:
Day 1: (115kms/1930 elevation gain)
Easter Monday I headed up to Kinglake and back with my friend Marina. It was the first social ride I had done with no distance or time goals in about 4 months. I LOVED it!!
Day 2: (95kms/ 1700 elevation gain)
I drove up to a farm near Strathbogie the night before ready to conquer some mountains! However Day 2 started with rain. It rained all morning and it wasn’t until lunch time it started to show a vague sign of clearing. I couldn’t bear the thought of staying inside all day, so quickly headed out in the gap. I rode from Mansfield up to Mt Buller and back. I had never ridden Mt Buller before and it was so much tougher than I expected. Having left in a rush I hadn’t eaten enough and forgot my nutrition. The road was rough, steadily uphill all the wall and in a head wind, with rain coming and going. I constantly considered turning around. I stuck it out and got to the top of Buller. I was in a rain cloud so it was wet, low visibility and the apparent temperature was -6.5degrees. I was genuinely scared trying to descent the mountain and considered hitchhiking down. It was one of the worst moments I have had cycling before. After getting home, eating and showering I was proud I stuck it out.
Day 3: (130kms/2100 elevation gain)
The rain had cleared so I set off to ride from Mansfield to Whitfield and back. I constantly ate during the whole ride to ensure my energy didn’t drop and even stopped in Whitfield for a big feed at the halfway point. The sun was shining the second half, the roads were quiet and the scenary beautiful. I loved the ride and loved being out there literally all door!
Day 4+5: back to work – no riding!
Day 6: (60kms/1300 elevation)
Saturday meant back on the bike! Sick of doing the same Melbourne rides I joined the Avanti Plus Collingwood group and rode up to Mt Pleasant. Albeit a shorter ride, it had plenty of pinchers! It was so refreshing to be out on new roads with new people.
Day 7: (115kms/1930 elevation gain)
I hadn’t planned a ride for the Sunday, but when I woke up early I decided I just wanted to be out there! So I quickly jumped on my bike and headed up to Kinglake on my own. I felt so much stronger than the six days earlier I did the ride, I couldn’t believe the difference!