My first brevet

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

On my way to Ithaca....

The endorphins from the weekend must still be flowing strong in my blood. I cannot explain a feeling of happiness that I am having these past three days. Yeah, riding does a lot of good! I am starting to see Ithaca on the horizon. Although that I still have a lot of work to do before I step on its shores, I cannot help to reflect back to when this wonderful journey begun.

The journey begun two years ago, when I was still a lot overweight (now I am just overweight) and smoked 50-a-day. I was working about 12 hours a day, day in day out, and was probably driving myself into an early ..... retirement.

Initially I decided to lose weight and I was doing quite well following a structured meal plan. I then thought "why not start to exercise a bit so I can speed up the weight loss?" Ok but what sport? Jogging was out of the question (and still is) as the strain on my knees and ankles from my bouncing body would be too much. Team sports were again dismissed - how can I now start play basketball or football at my condition!!! So since cycling seemed like a good option and I bought a fairly basic mountain bike.

I still remember the first day I rode it. I live on a hill which involves a 800 metre climb at about 10%. Riding it down was fun (although I almost crashed) - and I rode around the neighbourhood for a bit. Riding back was another story. I was already tired when I hit the now uphill part of the route. Started pedalling and soon I run out of gears! Damn you salesman - he had told me that with the 1-1 combo I could climb anything. Well not my hill - I blew after a couple of pedal strokes so I had no option but to walk uphill, pushing the bike. I arrived home totally exhausted and thought that I would die. I collapsed on the sofa and took me ages to recover- cycling is not that easy after all.

But somehow I liked it and I insisted by cycling around my neighbourhood (I drove down the road though). I was then doing about 6 to 8 kilometres and I thought - WOW!! I then found and joined the Internet Club and with the help and encouragement of fellow cyclists I started to become more and more adventurous. I quit smoking and I eventually did many 'crazy things' that boosted my confidence and made me try more.

It was about that time that I first learned what a brevet is. Three of the Club's members would participate in one of those - a 220 km ride on those funny looking road bikes. Almost non-stop and more than 8 hours on the saddle. What a feat! Not for me I thought but.... wait why not?

I then started to take my cycling more seriously. I learned many things by asking around, buying and reading books and I eventually enrolled on a structured training programme. It was then that I learned about the importance of proper training and became familiar with terminology such as "heart rate", "zones", "intervals" etc. By following that program I saw improvements but still the brevet thing was something quite exotic.

Last summer the inevitable happened - I was introduced to my Spanish Lady and fell in love with her. I then started doing training on the road I found out that my physical condition gradually improved.

At the back of my mind the 'brevet-thing' became clearer but how on earth shall I attempt it if my greatest distance on a bike was at most 50kilometres. On the one hand the "Dr. Spock" in me was suggesting that it is not logical and I should wait for a year before I attempt it. On the other hand my heart was saying "Go for it you wimp". It was a riding buddy and friend tipped the scale. When "ttoppouzokypraios" found out that I was considering it, he immediately told me "You do it and I will ride with you no matter what".

So the die was cast….. I crossed the Rubicon and decided to take part in the brevet. (oh and started this blog as well)


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