Tag Archives: cycling

cycling

summer slips quietly away…

The last 4-6 weeks have been a bit strange for me. Plenty has been happening and none of it bad but life has kind of just been ticking by. It’s like being a passenger on a boat that is drifting along in the current of a slow wide river. I’m not complaining about this as unlike other times I’ve been kind of enjoying it. I haven’t been idle through this time but for anyone reading this blog it would appear that I may have fallen asleep for the Summer!

As I say I haven’t been idle but neither have I been committed to anything in particular. I have been reading a lot, watching far too much YouTube, watching a reasonable amount of TV (probably too much of that too!), cycling a bit, walking a bit and making a couple of YouTube videos all around the normal rhythm of work and family life. I’ve been posting a bit on Instagram and Facebook but what I haven’t been doing is writing anything. Something about the last month or more hasn’t given me an urge to write, maybe it’s a seasonal thing and I’ve been too busy just getting on with stuff to write about it?

I’ve come up with an Audax challenge for 2023 that is motivating me to get back out on the bike on an almost regular basis. While still not at the level l need to be, I’ve cycled more in the last two months than the rest of the year to date and I’m still pedalling and even better I’m enjoying it again. I’m (im)patiently waiting for the 2023 Audax Ireland events calendar to be published to make my concrete plans and then I’ll have the details to share. In the meantime I’m enjoying being back on two wheels although it’s sobering when I ride through what used to be a regular training area and realise just how long it’s been since my last visit!

Despite a sustained period of dry and mostly settled weather I’ve had a messy start to my new membership of the walking club. I’d highlighted two walks I was keen to do and that fitted in among all the rest of my life perfectly. However, both of these ended up being hit by a short sharp weather warning and ended up postponed to a later date. However, the new calendar is now published and I have high hopes for October. Yellow warnings in that month are just regular Irish weather! In the meantime I’ve been occupying myself with some walks on the local roads and forest trails as well a trip to Killeter Forest to complete the second trail that caught my eye back in April of last year.

As well as working in between these more interesting activities I managed to get across to Scotland at the end of August for a long weekend to visit my best friend Jim and family. The last time we saw each other was March 2020 when we were in Switzerland and travelled home just before the start of the very first Covid lockdown. It’s been 2.5 years but feels like a lifetime. Like every good friendship it was as if it was just yesterday. I flew over on the Friday morning and left on the Monday morning and in between we had a very relaxing few days of catching up, meeting his new pup, walking and talking, eating and drinking. It was a great weekend and already seems like a year ago!

Heading towards the end of the month I’m full of plans – some fully formed and some still rattling around in Beta phase. This weekend I’m off for a long weekend due to the Queen’s funeral so I’m heading to the Mournes on Sunday evening for a long hike on Monday. I was planning to do this last weekend but again was smited by the weather gods who sent the tail-end of a hurricane across the country for the day! This has worked out for the better anyway, having two full days to use rather than a dash across the country after work on a Saturday evening. This will be a 16km walk with 1200m of climbing and I’m a bit nervous about that level of challenge in a day walk. To be honest I’m sleeping in the van on Sunday night and that also makes me nervous, much more so than sleeping in a tent in the mountains! However, it is an adventure, I’ve never walked in the Mournes before and I get to climb Slieve Donard, the highest summit in Ulster and one of the Irish Four Peaks.

I hope to film the walk as well as walk the walk but in the meantime here are two videos I published on YouTube recently

50 states of the usa

“50 States of the USA” written and read by Anna McNuff

This post may contain spoilers.

It’s not commonplace that a good author also has the ability to be a good reader. Anna McNuff is brilliant at both! Not only is this an excellent description of her challenge but she reads it with passion and a huge sense of fun. She obviously loved her time during this book, revels in reliving it and it pumps out of the speakers. I’m totally convinced that this is a book enhanced by being an audiobook version.

I’ve read and listened to a number of books on endurance activities now. Most are based on long-distance hiking of the PCT or AT and a couple on long distance cycling. The most notable of the latter was Mark Beaumont’s story of his world record cycle round the world but this story has more in common with the best of the hiking stories I’ve listened to.

While many adventure stories focus on either the journey and the places encountered or the organisation of getting to and through the challenge this story is mostly about the people the author met along the way. While she camped plenty she managed to spend a lot of time staying with friends, friends of friends and hosts through the Warm Showers association which this story is an excellent advertisement for.

Throughout the book the author is continually surprised by the warmth and generosity of the people she meets but I’m positive that it is partly her own wonderful nature that brings this out in people she encounters.

If you want an uplifting experience and to hear an encouraging story about society in general but especially American society then this book is for you. It’s so nice to hear positive stories about America and especially small town America that seems to get bad press in many media.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

More on Goodreads and Audible.

Republished as “The United States of Adventure

Header image source: fossbytes.com

catch up 2.0

For anyone that is still reading this blog or following me on Facebook it looks like all I’ve done for the last 5-6 weeks is read, listen to music and play Wordle. Although all those things have occupied quite a bit of my time I’ve also been messing about getting back in the cycling groove.

I’d decided that group cycling probably wasn’t the best idea just yet as I haven’t really ridden anywhere close to consistently since July last year. I was out with a couple of guys early February and on the Club MTB rides a few times over the following weeks but somehow managed to drift away again after that.

Shortly after my Barnesmore Hike I somehow started getting the urge to get back on the bike. Possibly influenced by lengthening days, improving weather but also by the realisation that time was running out if I was going to get any meaningful cycling done this year. I’d already drifted through Spring and if I lost Summer too then that would be it really.

I knew my weight was way up and that my fitness was shot to hell. This was partly my reason for not cycling with the Club yet. I was also wary of embarrassing myself in front of guys I’d fallen way behind. Anyway my cunning plan was to increase my fitness by completing a weekly routine of a couple of short solo runs after work and a longer spin at the weekend while keeping up the reasonably regular early morning walking habit I’d developed.

The theory was a short run of approximately 25-30km would be long enough to push me back to fitness but not painful enough to discourage. Going straight after work meant I didn’t have the opportunity to talk myself out of it by going home first. I figured a few weeks of this would be enough to get me confident enough to get back out with the Club on a Sunday morning.

I’d identified a few routes around Omagh but one really grabbed my attention. This was a spin out towards Gortin and the Gortin Glens Forest Park. This is a slightly hilly road (good warmup) and there is a tarmac forest drive that I figured would be a bit hilly but traffic free with a good road surface. The last two bits were correct but I seriously misjudged the hills and I really should have known better!

forest park entrance

insane elevation profile

A number of climbs were >15% with at least one of them being >20%. I stopped on three of them and had to stop twice on the last and eventually walked a section as my legs were like jelly. Of the total 390m climbing I had 360m at the 18km mark! It’s a great training ride when my fitness is built back up but was a bad idea for a returning, get back into the swing of things kind of ride! After that I came up with a few other routes that were a bit less punishing.

I also knew it was going to rain a bit that evening so had a waterproof gillet with me. What I didn’t expect was heavy rain for most of the ride. I ended up soaked to the skin, chilly and driving home wet due to lack of preparation. Over the next couple of days I developed a rotten cold that took me a good 3 weeks to shift completely. I had a cough, breathlessness and a snotty head that kept returning when I thought I was OK and went out for another spin 🤨

I didn’t do too badly though. During May I managed 6 rides totalling almost 240km and two 50+km rides which were each my longest since July last year.

© garmin

What did take a hit was my walking. At the end of last month and into the start of this month I’d developed a good routine of a short 4.5km walk each morning before work. It was setting me up well for the day and as Catriona has been walking a lot recently and also before work, I was used to being awake at that time of the day anyway. The head cold knocked that a bit. It left me quite tired and I didn’t feel able for both cycling and walking especially on the same day. I also felt that I needed that extra hour of sleep each day to knock the cold properly and not getting it was part of the reason it was dragging on.

© garmin

© strava “training” log

If you’ve come this far with me you might notice a drop in activities completely in the last week of the month. Part of that was lingering tiredness (laziness? 🤔) and working extra days at work (2 x 6 day weeks) but also prep for going on holidays. I’ve been off work since Wednesday for the start of a 2 week break. The highlight of that is a week away so I’m very happy to say that I’m writing this from a holiday resort on the shores of Lake Garda

accommodation area at 10am

We arrived very late last night after a very long 15 hour journey (long story!), hungry, tired and dehydrated. Today has been about exploring the resort, getting our bearings and recovering from the journey. Tomorrow the proper touristy stuff begins…

Header image by Mike from Pexels

time to take back control

Warning: this turned into quite a long post!

Over the last couple of years most of society has given up a lot of control to others. Many of the decisions we had been used to making ourselves were restricted by the decisions of those in government over us. These restrictions have resulted in many positive impacts with health services not becoming over run and the lives of many being saved. There have been negative impacts also with the mental health of many being badly affected, health appointments, checkups and surgeries delayed and many people becoming frightened and isolated from the rest of society. Finally though, with the end of the latest Omicron wave, it appears that life will now begin to return to normal as restrictions are being completely removed in many countries around the world.

From a personal point of view I feel that I have lost control of certain aspects of my own life and especially so over the last 6 to 12 months. I’ve written a number of times here about my inate lack of motivation and tendency towards laziness and putting things on the long finger. I know Covid has made that more difficult but in some ways it’s also an excuse that I’ve been using to justify my actions or rather inactions. That needs to change.

Most years at either the end of December or the beginning of January I make a list of targets and plans for the year ahead. I intentionally didn’t do that this year. As 2021 drew to a close I’d been thinking about this lack of control and what I was going to do about it. I decided that this year was to be about taking back control of my health, fitness and weight. I’ve been very inactive especially since about August and my diet has deteriorated quite badly. Consequently I’m now less fit and heavier than I have been for a good few years. I’m 49 this year and that’s not a good place to be at this age. I decided that getting back to regular activity, cutting most of the crap from my diet and getting my weight back to a healthier level was more important than arbitrary distance targets or streak challenges this year.

Changing jobs has given me a new impetus and also new opportunities with a shorter commute and slightly shorter working day but the change has also brought new challenges with new systems, people and routines to learn and establish. I did get a little more active in January but not to the level that I need.

Last week saw the turn of the month from January into February. The 1st of February is celebrated in Ireland as St. Brigid’s Day but in ancient Ireland it was known as Imbolc. Halfway between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox it traditionally marked the beginning of Spring and generally associated with new beginnings. What better week to start afresh?

On Monday I finally made it to a physio to get some work done on my back. It’s been an issue for me for quite a few years but has been a consistent annoyance now for the last 4-5. I’ve had a few episodes of very bad pain this last year and twice over Xmas and New Year. I’ve been to physios before but it’s always been a temporary fix and I haven’t maintained the stretching or exercises to get into shape and keep the pain away. This is now the time to reverse that. The physio gave me a good examination, some massage and stretching followed by some dry needles and electro therapy. I was tender for a day or two but the next couple of days were the best I’ve felt for a long time. I have a follow up appointment this week and then a series of strengthening and stretching exercises to do daily to keep it good. Despite my lack of effort this seems to be an issue that should be reasonably easy to treat if I apply myself.

On Tuesday I then read a blog post written by Jim at Fit Recovery. Jim writes a lot about cycling, more recently about bowling but also a lot about recovery from alcohol addiction. This particular post was about recovery but it definitely struck a chord with me, especially the bit about not letting the argument in your head start at all. Just shut it down before it starts. Too many times I let the argument run and it wins and I do nothing or put something off. My big challenge now for this year is to make that my new habit.

With that new momentum I decided to cycle with the Club on Wednesday morning. I got the bike prepped and my kit ready for the morning and for the first time in well over 6 months I went for a group spin. It was a damp Wednesday morning so it was only the 3 of us and the other guys were stronger than me. However, we went out with a headwind and with them taking turns on the front and me on the 3rd wheel we all had a good workout and at much the same level. At Ballinamore School (21km) I turned back for home while they went on to Fintown for an extra 10-15km. I knew I didn’t have the legs for that and was able to enjoy the tailwind home solo. I had a surprising amount of anxiety about going out for this spin that took significant effort to suppress. However, I went out, performed way better than I expected and had a good time despite the tender ass and tired legs!

With no plans for the afternoon, buoyed by my successful morning and the encouragement from the two guys I spent some time that afternoon getting my MTB sorted in order to join the Club run on Thursday evening. I used to do this 2-3 nights a week a few years ago but the small group we had broke up when the other guys switched over to Zwift the following winter and I couldn’t get a new group together. In the meantime a new group formed but I’d never joined them. Thursday was to be the night.

Again I was a bit concerned about my fitness but this is a very mixed ability group and the ethos is to stick together so I was feeling better about joining them. Altogether we were out for over 2 hours but lost 20-30mins with an awkward puncture. It was a whole load of fun, I’d forgotten how great it was to get cold and wet in the dark on a MTB!

The next stage of my comeback was to join the Sunday morning road bike group but a storm blew in over the weekend making it dangerous to ride and definitely not fun. Despite this early setback I’m ready to roll tomorrow evening again with the MTB group and looking forward to it.

I still have a bit of a way to go to take back control of other things I’ve been letting slide but the journey has started and so far I’m feeling good.

On a complete tangent this post has been rattling around my brain since yesterday and every time I think of it I end up singing this song…..

renewing old friendships

Last weekend I made the long drive to Portlaoise (3.5hrs each way) to take part in the annual Geocaching Ireland New Year Resolution Event. This takes place each year on the first/second Saturday in January. There’s a meetup in a scenic location followed by a walk, usually around 10km. As January is usually a busy month for retail and Saturday a key day I haven’t been able to make this event since 2013! However, changing jobs meant that I was able to book it off this year.

The walk mostly followed the waymarked Glenbarrow Mill Loop and for the first half it was along the River Barrow. After a few weeks of rain the river and waterfalls were in full spate with the waterfalls being especially impressive. The second half was along forest trails and a boardwalk across the more open hillside.

The walk was really enjoyable, a gentle rambling pace and beautiful scenery. However, the main aim and most enjoyable thing about the day was meeting old friends that I haven’t seen for a good few years. That was by far the best part of the day and more than worth the long drive each way 😊

with my old bud – mammy eileen

On Wednesday I then reacquainted myself with another old friend that I haven’t seen much of since August. We’ve seen each other in passing but I’ve always felt awkward about not spending time together like we used to and I’ve usually rushed on past with my eyes averted pretending not to notice him….

Since I screwed up my digestive system back in August I haven’t been cycling at all hardly and anything I did do was on the MTB. On Wednesday, after a 5 month gap, I finally went out for a road spin. I was way more nervous and anxious than I expected but despite my fitness being shot to shit I managed a pretty hilly route and even managed to enjoy myself. It felt good to be back out and good to finally break my duck 💪🚴

click here to view on strava

Header image by Chanikarn Thongsupa from rawpixel.com

pan celtic race

As part of my interest in longer distance Audax cycling I came across this fantastic event a couple of years ago. It’s a self-supported ultra long-distance endurance cycling event. The 2019 event was the first as far as I know and the route was simply amazing.

The 2020 event was scuppered by Covid but by keeping it restricted to England & Wales, they managed to put together a route and run the event for 2021.

As part of the celebration of the 2021 event they created a really good film and I’ve linked it below. I’d recommend it for anyone with even a passing interest in cycling or endurance sport of any kind. The standout for me was the camaraderie of the riders and how ordinary so many of them are while still being extraordinary.

The 2022 route has been released and as a nod to the fact that they couldn’t get to Ireland in 2021 it’s almost exclusively here this year. I’m especially glad to see that they are also visiting Donegal.

All images © Pan Celtic Race

killygordon and clady mountain bike

Biking

On Sunday last week I finally made it back on to the bike after almost two months to the day. I had a lot of digestive issues in September, had two bouts of illness heading into October and totally lost motivation for cycling or much of anything else fitness wise to be honest. Any focus I did have went into training for the sponsored run for Pieta.

Sunday though was such a perfect cycling day that I couldn’t let it go to waste. It was mild, bright and dry with very little wind. I decided on an easy paced cycle down to Clady and back to Killygordon using a mix of back and main road. The treat at the end was a short off-road section along the river in Killygordon and a final spin around the forest trails of Monellan.

Mid morning on a Sunday the roads were pretty quiet which was a nice, relaxing re-introduction to the road. Just over the border in Clady I made some new friends.

The trail along the river was really nice with the trees all colourful with changing leaves and lots of water in the river after all the heavy rain of the last few weeks. In Monellan the trails were better than expected and definitely drier than I’d hoped for, really enjoyable.

autumnal bike porn!

After Monellan I was still feeling good so decided to tackle the pretty tough climb up Gleneely Hill before heading home via the long, easy downhill. This is never easy on any bike, never mind on a mountain bike and definitely not after such a long break but I surprised myself and made it to the top without passing out! I was more than ready for an easy glide home though 😊

Filming

I also decided to try and film for the first time while cycling. In July I got a budget action camera (Akaso Brave 6 Plus) and set of accessories for my birthday. My plan was to use a mixture of handheld and chest mounted filming but it didn’t go very much according to plan. The handheld bits were fine but I totally miscalculated the placement of the camera on the chest harness. I ended up with a lot of footage but most of it of my handlebars 🙈

I was also using the camera in the protective case which kills the sound quality so the two pieces to camera that I filmed needed an external voice recorder. This worked well for the introductory piece but having just finished the climb up Gleneely I totally forgot about the external mic for the concluding piece which left it totally unusable. I’m still using my mobile for editing (VN Video Editor). This worked pretty well but synchronising the voice over and the video was tricky.

In the end I managed to salvage just over 6min of reasonable quality footage and I’ve decided to go ahead and post it up as a learning experience. I’ve posted a link below if you are interested in giving it a view.

metric challenge 2021: august

It’s hard to believe we are so far into the year already and that Summer is now officially over! The approach of Autumn can definitely be felt at both ends of the day bringing to mind layers, gillets and arm/leg warmers that have been discarded for months. Thankfully we are experiencing a bit of an Indian Summer that seems will carry us well into September with mild and dry weather to soften the blow.

As the month drew to a close I was running out of time, yet again, for a Gran Fondo ride and/or an Audax Permanent. I’d wasted a lot of cycling time in August with a mixture of illness, bad weather and time spent on family days out and painting the house. The last two reasons are obviously not wasted time but combined they all left me lacking fitness and carrying a little bit more weight than I’m comfortable with.

Last week I managed to get myself back in the saddle and get a few rides in to try and get myself back in reasonable shape. The plan was to do my own Audax Donegal 200 route as a Permanent on Sunday. Saturday morning my plans were derailed fairly significantly. I woke up with quite a bad digestive issue that left me tired, uncomfortable and out of sorts and needing a strong dose of immodium to get me fit for work. Initially I figured it was a reaction to my cholesterol medication again but it didn’t feel the same.

I eventually worked out the cause on Sunday morning. Friday evening I’d gone for a 60K spin and needed water half way. In Raphoe I was attempting to use a service station tap that was disconnected and a local man directed me to a public spout. I thought this was a great novelty to be drinking from a natural water source. In hindsight I looked back at the photo I took and it was most likely the cause of my woes!

Regardless of my lack of energy on Saturday evening I pushed on with my plans and prepped my bike and gear for a 200K ride on Sunday morning. I woke early and felt tired but OK but quickly realised that my digestive system still hadn’t fully recovered. The 200K was off the agenda and I wasn’t even sure if I’d get out at all.

Eventually by lunchtime I was starting to feel a bit better and decided to risk an afternoon attempt at keeping the Metric Challenge rolling along. It was bugging me to break the streak this late in the year. I decided to repeat the route from April which was pretty straightforward, had minimal climbing, made the best advantage of the light breeze and allowed me to call and visit my brother at his coffee van.

All in it turned out to be a pretty good ride. It did take me about 40K before I felt comfortable and relaxed and lost any anxiety about taking ill while out on the bike but I managed to enjoy it and it was good to see my brother again and have a bit of a chat. He was very busy which reduced our ability to talk but it was great to see his business flourishing.

click here to view on strava

The Strava graphic above shows that it was a pretty fast spin for me. I wasn’t trying to push things so was dead pleased how it worked out. As I was leaving Stranorlar I realised that I had approximately 8km to go for the 100K and it was possible to push hard and get there for 3hr45min which would be a very fast time for me on any day. I put the head down and concentrated on maximising power and speed. It was tough going and the traffic lights were with me in both Stranorlar and Killygordon but the 100K alert popped up on the Garmin just as I reached the junction in The Crossroads and the time was 3hrs44min! I was really chuffed, absolutely beat but delighted that I had that still to give. My last 5K was in a time of 9:21 which is very fast for me. The last few kilometres were done at a much slower pace especially having to climb the last 1.6km to home!

The downside is that my RRTY has now been broken once again and I’m back at the start. However, I’m determined to get right back at it again in September and have time booked off work in October/November to give me a chance to select the best weather days to get those two difficult months completed as easily as possible. It will still leave me finishing in 2022 in summer and hopefully with a string of good weather rides.

rrty #2 – july – donegal 200

We’ve just been through what qualifies as a heatwave in Ireland and Sunday was the last day of mega sunshine, high temperatures and the extended period of dry weather.

Definition: A heatwave refers to a prolonged period of abnormally hot weather which may be accompanied by high humidity. While there is no generally accepted definition of a heatwave, in Ireland it’s classified as 5 consecutive days with a maximum temperature in excess of 25 degrees Celsius”.

HSE Ireland

Sunday was also the last day available for me to complete a 200km ride to qualify for RRTY. It would also have to do double duty and count for my Metric Challenge ride for July. Due to various weak excuses I wasn’t able to fit it in earlier this month. Our wedding anniversary was the only other available day and the flag I attempted to run up for that date was mercilessly (and unsurprisingly) shot down.

Heat was going to be a challenge so I decided to set a 5am alarm and get on the road early. I also decided to do my own Donegal 200 Permanent so I wouldn’t have to drive to the start and therfore start cycling earlier. Due to a bit of faffing around with my Garmin I ended up wasting half an hour and getting started at 620am, but only 20min later than planned.

Even leaving at this time the temperature was still 13°C. It was 18°C at 8am, 20°C by 10am and 24-26°C in the afternoon. As a result it was a much more laid back ride than usual. I made sure to keep my power well down to keep my heart rate low and therefore my speed suffered a bit.

donegal bay from mountcharles pier

I also took plenty of breaks. I was going through water pretty quickly (at least 6L throughout the day) and made good use of the many shops along the route to stop and refill. My main break was at Ardara, at just under 100km, where I had my lunch in the sun outside a local service station. On my inaugural ride of this route back in October I missed this shop but amended the route shortly after to include it. It’s a definite route improvement as it’s a fully stocked shop with good toilets, a hot food deli and an indoor seating area. The indoor seating was unavailable on Sunday due to Covid restrictions but these should be lifted shortly and it will be an important refuge in colder, wetter months.

gweebarra bay and bridge

My most enjoyable break came just before the hardest climb. On my 100mile ride last month I’d noticed a large lough on the edge of Glenveagh National Park. I always had a plan to wear a wet buff under my helmet and down the back of my neck for the toughest climb up to Glenveagh as I’d be hitting it in the early afternoon. Leaving Ardara I remembered this lough and had the idea of stopping for a chance to cool my feet in the water.

cooling off at lough barra

This was my best idea ever! By the time I reached the lough (Lough Barra I discovered from the information board) my feet were hot and swollen and getting sore. Soaking them and my legs up to the knees was a beautiful relief. I splashed water over my head, down my back and arms. It was glorious. I was pretty soaked but cool and dried out quickly in the strong sunshine. There was a family there kayaking and if not for them (and the proximity to the public road) I’d have been tempted to strip off for a fully submerged dip! It took a real effort to dry off and leave but off I went with a soaking wet buff dribbling cooling water down the back of my neck.

lough veagh from the head of glenveagh

I ended up stopping twice more, in Churchill and Raphoe, to cool off in the shade, buy more water and eat more food. The heat impacted my average speed (24.2km/hr) with my 200km ridden in 8hr 16min. My usual target is sub 8hrs so I was still pleased. My total time was longer than usual too at 10hr 40min but I needed those extra stops and I enjoyed every one of them so it was all worthwhile.

heart project sculpture raphoe diamond

click here to view on strava

running out of excuses

I’ve been off the bike for a week and a half, in fact I haven’t recorded a single activity since my 200km spin on the last day of June. I’ve been in a real slump over the last week but I’ve felt it coming for the last few weeks. The real indicator was missing a couple of days in the middle of June, recording no activities and breaking the streak I had kept going since the middle of January. Until today I hadn’t even done one of my previous self imposed minimum distance 2km walks.

Everyone is very aware of how tough 2020 was but to be honest I’ve found this year much harder in many ways. Since the start of this year it has felt like a constant barrage of negativity that is very wearing. However, it’s not all Covid. It’s in me as well. I’m very easily distracted and find it difficult to stay focused on long term targets. I’m an expert prevaricator and as well as finding excuses to stop doing something, I’m also great at putting off starting things.

I don’t know if it’s a fear of failure or simply a lack of drive and self belief. Since early this year I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos on wild camping, backpacking and bushcraft. I’ve lots of ideas where I’d like to go and I’ve endless lists of gear I’d like to buy. Realistically I don’t have the perfect gear setup but I have enough to get started but it’s pushing myself over the starting line that is the hardest thing to do. I’ve been like this for many years but it seems to have worsened recently. Easy to blame Covid again but it’s not just that.

This last 10 days I’ve surpassed myself with excuses though. I had planned to take Thursday off to rest weary legs and recover. Friday night I didn’t sleep as I was driving support crew for one of my friends competing in the Donegal 555K Ultra race. Saturday I was exhausted from the night before and an inability to sleep that morning. I also had my second vaccine so on Sunday I was wiped out with the side effects (shivers, sweats, slept most of the day and generally very, very tired). Monday I was back at work but still tired, Tuesday I snoozed the alarm instead of getting up early and the evening was spent taxiing the boys to and from football training. Wednesday was my day off but as Catriona was also off I opted to spend the day with her instead and we went to Derry for a wander around the shops and for lunch. This is the one day I’m glad I skipped! Thursday I was also off but I had the dentist first thing and really didn’t feel like riding that afternoon with a swollen mouth and tender jaw. Friday it was raining after work (easiest excuse of the week) and Saturday morning I snoozed the alarm once again.

Today I really was all out of excuses. It was warm and dry and not very windy. The boys didn’t have any training, Catriona was at work and I was off. Still, it took me until 3pm to get myself off the couch, away from my Kindle and YouTube and out on the bike. During the early afternoon I’d planned and discarded a number of route options before finally settling on a reasonably simple and easy 32km ride.

I have a big cycling plan for 2022 and I have my RRTY challenge just started. If I’m going to achieve either of these I need to break myself out of this current slump and get back in a positive frame of mind. I still have almost 3 weeks to spin my legs back up and get ready for the second 200km. Retraining my legs will be easy, the real challenge will be retraining my brain.