Back to the UK, Back to the Rain

Well, arriving back in the UK has been a bit of a shock to the system. As soon as the plane descended through the dawn cloud into London Heathrow I knew that training was about to become a whole lot harder. Leaving the airport into a 5-degree drizzle confirmed it. It’s good to be home.

I think I might have become a ‘Fair Weather Cyclist’…

Ever since June — when I finished university and went to the USA to ride a part of the Northern Tier in preparation for the Transcontinental Race (more info on both here) — I’ve been cycling in warm temperatures. Training in Minnesota for most of July brought near 100 percent humidity and near 40C heat, while riding across Eastern Europe in July was the toastiest I’ve ever been on the bike. All in, I seem to have abandoned my Northern European tolerance to cold temperatures, and acclimatized to riding in the heat. Not great when I’ve got an entire English winter ahead of me.

There’s nothing quite like jumping in at the deep end though, and I had two back-to-back long base rides planned for the days after my arrival back in the UK. Despite some trouble with jet lag, I was motivated to get out and ride — after a few months away I was excited to get out and revisit some of my favorite rides. This excitement had been tempered after the first hours riding: I was back on my heavy Genesis Croix de Fer (currently doing duty as a winter training bike), it was raining, and I’d forgotten how English roads in the winter make most cyclo-cross courses look like well maintained tarmac.

My suffering was short lived however: the UK may be cold and wet with rubbish roads, but it has some spectacular views and quiet routes. The ‘Fer might be heavy, but it’s comfortable and reliable. I might be tired, but I was out on my bike. Life could be much worse.

Views like this make it all worth it — finally clear skies after 80 rainy miles

Views like this make it all worth it — finally clear skies after 80 rainy miles

Turbo Training (a.k.a. Chinese Water Torture)  

On the Turbo. Sorry about the picture — dodgy tan lines and lycra aren’t the most attractive combo!

Training has been split between riding long miles on the winter bike and short, intense efforts on the turbo trainer. If there are redeeming features about winter rides, there are just about none for the turbo. Turbo trainers definitely have their place: they’re good for getting specific workouts done that are difficult to accomplish in winter on the open road, they’re good for keeping form when daylight is short, and they’re good when you’re short on time. They are not, however, fun. Riding on the turbo always makes me infinitely grateful the next time I manage to get out for a good long ride in the rain: at least then I’m not bored.

Still, boring miles are better than no miles, and it means that I should come through the winter in good shape. I don’t want to get to March and realize that I’m way off the pace.

Coming soon: first impressions on my 45Nrth Fasterkatts. A boot billed to be the ultimate wet-weather performer comes up against the worst an English winter can throw at them. 

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