So, I got on the bike for the first time in February. ‘Sure you’ll be grand…it’s not a race’ said Kevin.
That statement held true, until last Sunday when it was unceremoniously consigned to the slag heap that is entitled ‘Cycling UnTruisms’! It is now in good company with other statements such as ‘It’s mostly flat from here’, ‘That’s the worst part over’, ‘We’re just going out for a gentle spin’ and ‘Sure the wind will be behind us when we’re on the way back!
So what changed on Sunday. Couple of things really. Firstly – Strava. I am now racing against a feckin’ app! For those of you who don’t know it, Strava maps your ride using GPS. And, if you have other gubbins strapped on such as speed, cadence and heartrate sensors, it layers all of that info on top to tell you how you are doing. Also built in to this is an ability to compare your speed over given stages. Stages with poetic names such as the ‘Enniskerry Sperm Loop’!
Anyway, on Sunday I decided to go for a Strava ‘PR’ or Personal Record on the Stage known as ‘LM Bray to Greystones Climb N to S’! So off I went, with nether regions pointing skywards with thoughts of the great Marco Pantani on my mind. Hey, he even looked a bit like me!
My legs were going like the clappers. Every sinew screamed, but I wouldn’t listen. This hill is mine, and nothing was going to take it away from me. Almost at the top, my lungs were bursting and I had even developed a stitch! Christ, I hadn’t had one of them since Jack O’Grady caught us robbing his orchard and gave us a monumental chase. But none of this mattered, the pain, the suffering, the sheer agony of pushing my body to the limit. There was smoke coming out of my heartrate strap FFS! But I was almost there – King of the Hillock!
Then, disaster struck:
No, I didn’t fall off. A certain Cathal Gormley, riding his totally silent ‘Stealth Stevens’ shot by me to grab my title! Oh the ignominy. But I’ll get over it.
So what I am really trying to say is, for me cycling is a race. A race between me and myself! This is totally new to me as I have never before pushed myself physically. The pain barrier was always just that – a barrier, through which I had never passed. But now that I have, the view on other side is marvellous. So what is the big payoff? The payoff is knowing that the next time I do it, it will be a bit easier. It is also arriving home after a long spin knowing, that I have achieved a number of personal goals and that I have just spent 3-4 massively productive hours.
To be honest, I have been surprised by my own progress. Many of the hills that used to terrify me are now welcome challenges. But for me, what is truly wonderful, is watching the P2N group as a whole develop and progress.
To be able to do so much for yourself, whilst also doing good for others – it’s no wonder Paris2Nice has grown in to the amazing institution it has. Thank you P2N, you have made one MAMIL very very happy.