Updated: Feb 22, 2019
Three weeks ago I wrote that I had got my mojo back. I hadn’t. I was just hoping it was true really. Sometimes we can lie to ourselves and it helps. Like telling yourself you feel good towards the end of a ride to banish fatigue or that you love hills to banish being overweight. That sort of thing. Telling myself that I was in love with cycling again was a lie too far though, because I had too much time to think about it.
A week later on an RCC Warwickshire ride from Warwick to Bicester I got dropped on every hill, struggled to hold onto any wheel in front of me and generally had a miserable time. This, despite the best efforts of those around me to gee me up. Another week of cold weather gave me an excuse for not riding again, save for a worthless indoor session. Another week passed by without me riding and by Saturday I pushed myself out of the door and immediately regretted it: neither gear shifter would work so I was forced to ride home and swap to my Infinito. Ten minutes later I was cursing after realising that the Infinito has not yet been swapped over to my new set up (sorted by the excellent Lee at Velo Atelier). An hour later and I couldn’t wait to get off.
Sometimes it’s not possible to get out of a tailspin on your own. You need friends or club mates. It also helps if they can see through your bullshit and make you face the truth. Hence when my friend Trevor asked that Saturday evening if had been cleaning my bike after rides and I said ‘yes’, he quickly established I had not, as he fixed my shifters and failing gears. I had asked him to look it over so I could do the Stratford Reliability Ride the next morning, which I promptly bottled out of after opening the curtains. Instead I waited for it to stop raining and went for a two hour spin with another friend from Lanterne Rouge, Glen. He listened to me patiently for an hour bleating on about how I wasn’t enjoying my riding and then pointed out in very simple ways I was being dishonest with myself. Not that he would put it that way, he is too nice a guy. He just held up a mirror and encouraged me to take a look. I can confirm, that no middle aged man looks good in lycra.
Which brings me neatly to my biggest lies. The ones about diet.
I used to be a fat bloke. I won't sugar coat that. Probably best not to as I'd have eaten that to. At one stage I weighed over 114kg (or 18 stone if must live in the past). People used to say 'ooh you carry it well because you are tall' (in the voice of Kenneth Williams) but I was never happy with the way I looked then. Not long ago, lots of friends on Facebook were sharing their weight loss before and after shots. Not to be confused with the #10YearChallenge ones, that were only shared by people who knew perfectly well that they looked the same. This includes the couple I know who look like they just changed outfits and took a second photo (you know who you are!)*
Some stories of weight loss were frankly amazing and it's no coincidence I think that cycling has helped so many people live a healthier life. I won't bore you with stories of my own years of yo-yo dieting, but will share, that when I finally took it seriously, the weight loss was so dramatic people asked me if I'd had cancer - harsh!
That doesn't mean I have given up on my tendancy to over eat and drink though. On 29th November last year I weighed 95kg. 7 kilos more than when I finished my ride across Europe in July. 7 kilos in 4 months is ridiculous and a sign I had just let myself go. I needed to act.
I stopped drinking straight away, only having a drink on Christmas day and Boxing day. On 1st January I stopped putting sugar in my tea and coffee for the first time in 40 years. I've stopped eating chocolate and crisps or eating dessert. I'm a big advocate of the calorie deficit school of thought - eat less move more. It works for me, alongside daily weigh ins and public announcements of my plan.
So today I'm 92.8kg. By the time I get to Cape Town in three weeks I will be 91kg. By the time I get to Mallorca in April I will be back to 88kg. I intend to hold that until the C2C in a day and drop another kilo for the Etape.
Feel free to shout out reminders if you ever see me wobbling around on a bike. Or call me a liar if you see me eating a cake.
*honestly it's unnatural that neither of you has aged in 10 years