I was fortunate enough to meet up with my dad recently and we were sat having coffee and he told me “There is no such thing as failure, only feedback and learnings” What lead him to tell me this? We were talking about my current dominating topic of conversation, cycling. Specially we were talking about the fact that I was going to take the day off work to attempt to cycle from London to Brighton and back in a day and as usual I was doing my pre-session stressing about fitness and about failing.
Last year I used to do training sessions without really knowing what the aims of the session where and this often left me feeling unsatisfied. This year I am consciously deciding what the aim for the session are, even if it is to just enjoy being on the bike. As this was a long ride I had several aims
- Cycle to Brighton
- Make it to Brighton in less than 6 hours, this was how long it took me last year
- Make it to the top of Ditchling Beacon still on my bike, no walking, last year I walked most of the way up
- Focus on high cadence rather than speed
- Feel the sea air – I grew up by the sea and it had been too long since I felt the sea air
- Have a good day on the bike
- Cycle more than 100 miles
- Cycle back to London, total of around 115 miles
So did I make it to Brighton and back? Err well, no, but I did learn a lot about myself, my bike and my mentality. There is a small part of me that feels like I failed because I didn’t accomplish all my aims but I did learn a lot and there were a lot of positives about the trip. So what were my learning and feedback? In no particular order.
That my body can keep going even when my mind thinks the body is at it’s limit. I f*cking made it up Ditchling hill! It is not a very nice climb as there are several corners around which I thought the summit but instead the road kept going. There were moments were I thought if I didn’t get off my bike I would fall off it but I my body just kept going.
- Rhubarb and Custard Torq gels really do taste like Rhubarb and Custard (and a little sickly).
- I have made amazing progress, even if I do say so myself. I often feel that I am not fast enough, that I haven’t done enough training, that I am not pushing myself hard enough and that I am constantly make excuses. The two pertinent facts that I have to remind myself is that 1) 9 months ago I couldn’t even touch my handlebars let alone put any weight through my shoulder. 2) 4 years ago I was not physically capable of cycling a mile, due to being morbidly obese, now I can cycle 100.
- Cycling can make me feel alive and feel like I am
dying in the exact same moment. When I got to the top of Ditchling Hill I lay on the ground and my heart was thumping,one part of me was thinking this is why I cycle it makes me feel alive. I spent too many years watching tv and not experiencing life, experiencing my heart racing. The other part of me was thinking “oh my god I am going to die my heart can not beat this fast”.
- Don’t assume that as it is April and since you
can’t find your suntan lotion “it will be OK”. I am a muppet, my arms resemble elmo in colour.
- Always check your lights are working prior to leaving (and never trust your maths when you are dehydrated). So when I got to Brighton I tried to work out if I could make it back to London before it got dark. I worked out that I could make it but I would be cutting it fine but I figured I had lights so I would be OK to cycle the last few km with my lights. I was 30km roughly from home when the sunset and neither my lights were working oopsy. I made the decision to find the closest train station and get the train (of shame) home.
So out of all of my aims I only failed at one and that is niggling at me, I have to attempt London to Brighton to London again, just like with the Etape it is unfinished business and I have learnt that I am someone who has to finish what they started.