Turbo Powered

For the past three months, I have spent my weekend and evening cycle time in the garage. We have a fantastic garage set up. Race bikes on turbo trainers with a TV and a huge range of box sets, plus a range of cooling fans.

I resort to the turbo in the winter because the daylight hours are so limited and riding in the dark, even with great lights, makes me feel very vulnerable.

Even at the weekends, the light is low early in the mornings when I would normally ride. The roads and cycle paths are often wet / icy / 6 inches deep in fallen leaves. All this amounts to an hour of very gentle, cautious and frustrating cycling.

On the turbo I can spend my very limited time doing a really tough session that will make me a faster cyclist. Brilliant. Fantastic use of time.

But it’s still not quite the cycling I love.

I settle into turbo training every winter. I can list all the benefits of turbo training:

  • I am quite a numbers junkie and my turbo has a power meter which the part of me that keeps a training log, loves.
  • I now have a reliable heart rate monitor which my inner number junkie loves even more than the power meter – this is much easier to watch when I don’t have to think about staying upright.
  • No clothing layers, no overshoes, no gloves, no earwarmers Just shorts and t-shirt with no huge pile of washing afterwards.
  • TV boxsets. The turbo has led me to obsessive watching of TV boxsets. ‘Life on Mars’, ‘Ashes to ashes’ and ‘House’ have been some of the highlights over the years. For longer sessions, you can’t beat ‘Chasing Legends’. For the past 2 winters I have been kept motivated by the 15 series boxset of ER (I’m still only on series 7).
  • No post ride bike cleaning.

But it’s still not quite the cycling I love.

This week has been February break so no nursery or playgroup. My husband took a couple of days off work and my road bike needed a test ride before my monthly club ride. So off I headed on my road bike. Outside.

It was only an hour.

It was an hour from which a bit of a quandary has been born.

I am now looking at the turbo with disgust. I no longer care whether Carter gets over Lucy’s death and whether Carol Hathaway manages to balance her new role as a mother with her job as a nurse (I have been watching a lot of ER).

I want to ride on the road.

I want to be outside in the fresh air.

I want to struggle up hills and kamikaze down the other side.

And it’s almost possible. It’s light enough at the weekends. It’s not that long until the clocks change and it’s light enough in the evenings.

But there was a reason for hitting the turbo. I want to race. I want to get back to time trialling like I used to.

I definitely wanted to.

But do I still want to?

I ride a bike because I am a cyclist and I cannot be myself without riding a bike.

I ride a bike because I want to be fit.

I ride a bike because it gives me the alone time I need to be a part of a close family.

Do I really ride a bike to race?

For me it comes down to time. For me to ride a time trial I have to get the bike in the car, drive at least half an hour to wherever the race is, sign on and wait about a bit, ride the race, get everything back in the car, drive home and unpack it all. That amounts to about three hours. Of that three hours, maybe an hour is spent on the bike.

What if I just binned the race, went out of the door and rode my bike for three hours.

Three whole hours.

That sounds amazing.

But what if I went to the race and did well. Went as fast as I used to. Beat my pre-parenthood pb’s even.

Faster than ever.

That sounds amazing.

So, I am back to an identity crisis.

To race or not to race. That is the question……

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