by Cam Whiting, the man behind CyclingIQ.
are you edging beyond your summer? creeping like gathering moss into mid-autumn? if so, you may want to look away now…
There’s no point in trying to kid yourself. Even if you’re still fitter than the average hairy-legged newbie pack fodder, you peaked some years ago – probably more than ten. Neither time, biology, nor foreseeable breakthroughs in affordable anti-aging medications, are on your side.
It looks all downhill from here.
Your slide to mediocrity has been gradual. It’s harder to ‘get on top of the gear’ and keep it there.
Fast-twitch fibres are now the things that jerk you awake as you nod off on the couch.
These days, the ‘warm up’ lasts for thirty kilometres.
In your prime, you thumbed through the pages of cycling magazines and scoffed at the pro’s who gained a few off-season pounds; especially Ullrich, the “hamster-faced tourist” (CycleSport, circa late 1990’s) who infiltrated early season races with an inconceivable waistline after a winter of “living normally”.
The network of raging veins that used to spread across your abdomen like lightning illuminating the night sky has been decommissioned.
You are Ullrich.
In a permanent off-season.
So you buy a more expensive bike. Or perhaps a new pair of carbon wheels with ballistic-grade whatever.
But. You. Are. Still. Slower.
Sure, life is busy. You don’t get enough sleep any more. You try to eat healthy, but it’s difficult with all these work does, dinners with friends, weddings, business trips. Your back hurts.
The only constant seems to be your discipline. You still wake up at 5am. But these days it’s the alarm on your smartphone that stirs you, not a AAA-battery-operated plastic cube with luminescent green hands. Groggily, you right yourself and, zombie-like, rise slowly to the sounds of popping joints. One eye opens slowly and you lope to the bathroom, in a dream-like state, to pee.
In a ritualistic and robotic process refined over decades, underlayers, bibshorts, jacket, socks, shoes, helmet, gloves and glasses spill from shelves onto limbs. After pinching the tyres on your bike – twice – you latch your door closed and drop your keys into your back pocket.
Whisps of cool air invade every inch of exposed skin and you know you will feel cold for at least the first 30 minutes.
You are getting older and slower, but what are you going to do about it?
The least you can do is not change what you are doing.
Just keep on keeping on.