The art of the longer ride?

I’m very luck to live in a place like I do. 5 minutes of cycling in any direction of my house and I am in the countryside, yet ten minutes down the road I have a high speed rail link to London.

As with everything, we get wrapped up in our daily life, training, racing, and forget to look up and what we have around us. Today, I did a 35 mile ride round the country lanes of my local area, and once again rediscovered the reason why I do what I do.

Just before I left I was reading Chrissie Wellington’s autobiography, and was at the point where she talks about how mental resolve and focus is key, specially for an ironman.

‘of all the body parts we train for this unforgiving pursuit of ours, none are more important than the head’

As a sprint athlete, this isn’t something I have had to think about much till today, training is usually fast, furious, and over within the hour! As an NLP practitioner though, I am well aware of its power.

I split my route up into race routes, various sections of my ride also doubled up as parts of the bike route on a couple of local triathlons. For many, 35 miles is not far to ride, but for a sprinter, over 12 is far! Things were going well, after my legs warmed up I felt good. I enjoyed the scenery. I was amused that a sign which told you your speed as you entered a village (designed for motorists) told me my speed too – 18mph… Well I was going up a hill! Lots of cyclists out today too, one poor woman was passed by both me and a car simultaneously! (stupid car, not waiting for me to pass first!).

It was when I reached around 24 miles, and was on a straight B road that had no traffic, that my mind started to wander. I was remembering …

…when a couple cycled out of a nearby field – lifted their cyclocross bikes over the hedge onto the road and carried on
…when I reached the part of the road that was the route I took on my very first half distance race…

MEL! Focus!! What was Chrissie just telling you?!! Yep, the speed had dropped off, the technique had too!

I got the focus back, enjoyed the rest of my ride (after discovering how much more important nutrition was on longer rides!) and made it home ten minutes faster than the records say I managed this route a good few years ago.

But, still the run to do… And oh my legs didn’t want to do it! Another surprise – a much faster pace than my legs felt like they were running at!

The pain of muscle fatigue – not a problem. The pain of quitting – a huge problem!
As long as you are AWARE of when you lose focus, and are able to get it back, that’s the key. No one is perfect. Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.

Believe, and you will achieve.

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