Dec 14, 2018

DIARY OF A CHRISTMAS CYCLIST

For us dedicated cyclists the festive period is a welcome break from a full year’s efforts. Keeping the miles up, watching what you eat and training for events and races takes it toll. Being a part time cyclist is a full time job and Christmas is the ideal time to down tools and relax. Whilst some decide to pack a further 500km on the pile in hash-tagged group activity, the more serious among us hang up our cleats, tuck away our bib-tights and get stuck into stopping.

Let’s take a look at the festive period ahead.

leftovers, mince pies and a Die Hard marathon

December 1st

As November turns to December it doesn’t feel like much as changed, the weather is still ok and finishing work seems a long way off. The only concession is a daily fix of low grade chocolate gifted to you from behind a numbered cardboard door. This is the start of the descent into Christmas, the crest of the mountain climb. Your pedalling is easing now and the weight of the bike is going help you drift softly into the glorious switchbacks of the festivities.

December 7th

Momentum is gaining with very little effort, the daily advent microdoping is barely noticeable now and you’ve already started supplementing with the odd mince pie. It’s about now that you decide that training plans or compulsory club rides can ‘do one’. With all the social activities to fit into your calendar there’s just no time. The works’ do, meeting old school friends, the best mates’ get together, your partner’s work shindig, the charity thing you promised you’d go to. It’s all adding up to a pretty stacked calendar now.

December 14th

By now you may have a couple of parties under your belt. Probably low key ones but enough to make you think twice about the long, cold endurance ride you agreed to before your head felt like it had rolled down the Stelvio in a barrel. Fatigue is fairly minimal, but concentration is an effort and with only a fortnight to go you’ve realised you still haven’t bought any presents. Buying things hasn’t been a problem all year, your PayPal has taken a beating for countless cycling necessities for yourself. Now it’s time to think of other people. What the hell do non-cyclists like? You box off your cycling friends first with inner-tubes, comedy over socks and subscriptions to Zwift. Would Auntie Jean like the new Chapeau! thermal bibtights? You can wear it for walking the dog can’t you?!

December 15th

It’s the last day to send cards. You have some good ones, some cheap ones and some left over from last year. Lining up your stationery you decide who deserves which. The first few are flowing with elegant prose, like a puncheur eating up the Paterberg. By the middle of the bunch you’re feeling the strain and slip into abbreviations, copying messages from earlier cards. By the end you can barely hang in there, every letter is a struggle. You’ve bonked. All you can manage by the last card is “MC + HNY x”. Its pathetic, but it gets the job done. You forget to apply stamps to the envelopes and drop them into the post box. It’ll be a Christmas miracle if they arrive.

December 22nd

The fear has well and truly kicked in and you find yourself without any presents for anyone but a load of new stuff coming your way that you accidentally bought. You find yourself in a real shop, in person. It’s a bit alien to you – the weekends are usually for riding a bike so the crowds are disorientating. Who are these people and why are they in my way!? They don’t seem to indicate into shops or shoutout warnings of broken paving slabs, they definitely don’t wave hello when we pass. Stress levels rise higher than the time you got lost navigating hundreds of roundabouts in the retail area of Palma.

December 24th

They’re not the greatest, but you do have a load of presents to wrap. It’s been a while since you saw your bike, you’re not totally sure you know how to ride it. Wrapping is the worst, you attempt to use the same technique as packing ride food but realise too late that cling film makes for rubbish wrapping. Too late now.

December 25th — Christmas Day

The big day has arrived and you know it’s going to be real test of your endurance. The biggest day of the whole Festive Tour, the Queen Stage. You know you need to pace yourself; if you feel drunk or full by 12 you’ve gone too hard. If you’re sober as a commissaire and a bit hungry you’re not going hard enough. It’s a balancing act, an Individual Time Trial of constant decision making. At least today you won’t have to listen to your coach / overbearing friend tell you how you’re doing this year. Replaced by the Queen’s speech, the motivational summary is just as effective. You nod, make noises to show you’re listening but ultimately ignore it all.

You’ve been on domestique duty all day until this point, fetching drinks from the kitchen and bringing them to your family. It’s been tiring and you need some time out of the wind, but sadly end up sat next to Uncle Peter who still has that digestive issue. You volunteer to fix the new toys that don’t seem to be working. You’re a master at this after countless rides shouting at your Garmin and pointing at your power meter “it’s there you f***ing t***, right there. Just connect!!”. The same approach brings the same rewards and little Alfie goes to his room in tears.

December 26th

You’re late up, the big stage has left you a little worse for wear. Late nights mean late starts, you’ve forgotten what 6am looks like. It’s 11am before you get anything done, usually you’d be at the second cafe stop by now. You decide to plan a route through the day, it consists mostly of leftovers, mince pies and a Die Hard marathon. Over ‘what you’re calling breakfast’ the family remind you of your militant stance on the luft of everyone’s paper hats and insistence they be called caps, not hats. You remember you really like the solitude of cycling.

December 28th

It’s a nothing day, is it even Christmas anymore or just the build up to New Year? What day of the week is it? What is this strange mound under my snowflake jumper? You decide to log in to Strava to adjust your vital statistics, adding a few KGs less than you suspect in vain optimism. Very few people have been uploading rides, those that have give them jolly names. You close Strava, pretending that you think cyclists are idiots and that eating and drinking is much better. You refuse the offer of another mince pie.

December 31st

Big night tonight, it’s going to be a late one. You can no longer taste food and alcohol has no effect on you. Your eyes are ringed and red, your belly hurts more than your legs did that time up Ventoux. You have saddle sores from sitting on the sofa and don’t know if your new physique will ever allow you to get aero again.

January 1st

“I might take up cycling with you, be good to lose some weight”. That statement is ringing in your ears from last night, so many people making promises they’ll never keep. The New Year is full of it, resolutions to be better, thinner, nicer and work harder. It’s all lies. But you made one too, one you’re going to stick to. It’s been two weeks since you sat on your bike and it feels like forever. A years’ hard work down the pan, so many wasted hours in front of the telly not on front of the bunch.

Next year I’m riding my bike all Christmas. Anything else is too much like hard work.

If you are still shopping for the cyclist in your life, why not delve into our 3 for 2  offers? Or how about socks, everyone has feet – it's the ideal gift!