@AccidentoBizaro is funny. And anonymous. Because she (she!) has DARK BROODING TERRIFYING SECRETS to hide. LikeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦*insert stories about gun totting giraffes and eating things after their sell-by date here*. But in this blog she talks about finding the thing you love, amongst a bunch things you should like. Thanks Accidento!
Vupline’s guest blogs are full of life, passion and enthusiasm for cycling in all forms. When Nick suggested contributing, I felt like a bit of a fraud. Truthfully, I’m not sure I like cycling very much. To be honest, I’m a bit scared of it.
There are lots of rational things to be scared about when out cycling. Homicidal motorists, potholes, mechanical problems, map-reading fails, inclement weather, suicidal sheep, rabid dogs. Passers-by pointing and laughing. Me, I’m quite scared of descending, as I get so cold I can’t think. Weirdly, I don’t generally worry about any of this. What I’m really scared of is having a horrible time.
My memories of cycling holidays are so positive. We rode up L’Alpe D’Huez! And Ventoux! And Hautacam! And La Berarde, though nobody knows that one. They should look it up, as it’s spectacularly beautiful. And we tried to go up the Aubisque, but it was so foggy we couldn’t see where the edge was, and we bottled out.
We had silly conversations in scrambled French, full of confusion and hand-waving. We camped, and drank insanely cheap red wine, and spent hours with maps and Altigraph, planning routes. The only way I could stop myself crying all the way home was to plan the next year’s holiday.
But memory is selective. For every great day, I know there were another two or three spent grinding along, wiped out, feeling doubly terrible as here I am in La Belle France on holiday in the sunshine with a baguette in my back pocket and I just want to go home, God I hate cycling, and my knee hurts, and I hate bloody French cyclists, so cheery and friendly, bugger them, whatever possessed me, etc, etc…
Approaching Ventoux – A Sight Guaranteed To Make Cyclists Wibble. Hell, Lance Armstrong
wibbled at Ventoux, and he’s almost as fearlessly badass as Accidento
Those terrible days. There used to be more of them. On my first ever cycling holiday I remember watching my then boyfriend disappearing up yet another endless hill and thinking, I hate you. I hate this. Why am I here? Bloody Ireland, I hate it. And bloody cycling. And bloody sodding camping. Whose idea of a good time is this? And crying.
It took me several years to realise that these were classic symptoms of The Bonk: the point where your body and mind just give up, and all you can do is get off, and if possible drink Guinness and eat chips, and fall asleep, and hope it will all be better tomorrow. (Here’s a blog to help with Bonking, ahem. -Ed. http://www.vulpine.cc/2011/nutrition-for-long-rides/)
I know that I have to eat while riding now. But I still have those days, and I fear them. When I’m getting my stuff together for a ride, half of me is thinking "Brilliant! Lovely weather! Can’t wait to get out!" And the other half is mumbling "I hope I feel OK this time. I hope I can get up the hills. I hope I don’t cry, and come back thinking, I’m never doing this again." Often, the mumbling half gets the better of me, and I find a reason not to go.
Over the years, I’ve developed several strategies for dealing with this. The first was simple. Don’t Ride Your Bike.
For several years I went running instead, and let my partner take the toddler out on the back of his bike, and felt vaguely bad that I wanted to be part of a Lovely Cycling Family but couldn’t face it. More recently, I’ve ridden only while on the family holiday. It *is* fun with a 6 year old on the back of your tandem, swinging around to look at tractors and singing as he rides along. But I am still glad when I can get off.
Now, though, I think I might have cracked it. I’ve discovered cyclocross. I go training on Tuesday nights in the dark in the park, and my face aches from grinning for an hour and a half as I get burnt up by ruthless 10 year olds and try to avoid riding into trees.
I am rubbish at getting off, getting on and anything involving bike handling skills. My legs are covered in bruises. But I love it. I dream about it every night. I love the mud, sweat and tears, and the fact that I can go really hard for an hour then stop. I don’t have time to get the bonk. I don’t have to pace myself, and put my waterproof on when I go downhill, and wonder whether I need my other gloves. I don’t get cold. There is no endless grinding along.
I am facing other, newer fears, every day. Of falling off, of bashing myself, of failing in public. And now, I’m even starting to love road riding, as there is finally a point to it.
I am training. I am a Fearless Badass In Training.
I might change my bio to that.