Sunday, 4 March 2012

Change your mind

Edward de Bono once wrote that "if you can't change your mind, why have one?", and I've been doing quite a lot of mind-changing recently, some of it other people's, most of it my own. The biggest change has no place in this post, but certainly will get an airing next week, for reasons that will become apparent. Nothing like a good teaser is there? Though those closest to me know what's coming. Trailing home a long way home in second in the change-your-mind stakes is that I, regrettably and regretfully, have decided to drop out of the Shakespeare Marathon on 29th April. As I mentioned during the week, the right leg problem is proving impervious to rest, so even if it were to clear up in the next few days, I've now missed too much training to allow me to have a reasonable expectation of breaking the 3.5 hour target I'd set myself. And whilst I'm happy to do bike events without any particular target other than enjoying myself, the same isn't true of marathons - to make that pain worthwhile I need a clear sense of achievement at the end.

So, I'm going to get some physio on the leg, and hope it clears up enough to at least do the White Peak Half Marathon in May with t'eldest when, to the probable disbelief of some reading this, I will stay with her all the way round and finish at the same time as her. No, honestly.

The silver lining to the very grey cloud that is my leg (I hate having injuries) is that it's enabled me to get back on my bike again. Apart from a little discomfort in the first few minutes there doesn't seem to be any problem with 'regular' riding, so the training for August/September's event can start earlier than planned.

(Said event = = quite scary; a whole new world of suffering)

I knew this a couple of weeks ago, so I packed the bike in the car for the week or so in France I had recently, again as I mentioned in the week. It was a bit of a shock to the body going out on fully-fledged rides having not ridden in four months, and equally significantly, having already done 5 or 6 hours of physical work on the days I went out. I was working on taking down about 300 feet of garden fence, and putting up a new one. Man, it was hard work, combining grunt and muscle getting the new posts in, with accuracy and problem solving, not least buying all the necessary materials at a French B&Q. I loved it though; I was out in the middle of absolutely nowhere with nobody apart from Venard, the local farm dog, for company. It was crisp and cool, but the sun shone all day, and the job went smoothly. I tell you, I'm ten men now when it comes to practical stuff.  A bit like this:

And so, with limbs already aching and hands suffering the effects of misplaced hammer blows, I went out riding. We're lucky enough to be only about 11 miles from one of the highest points in Brittany.  Now that's not saying a lot, but it does have a pretty steady climb up to it from three different directions, and most impressively, it's got a sign at the top familiar to those of us who've ridden up French hills:

Yes, it's a Col!  As proved by me when we across there at Christmas. So, it's a riding magnet if you want to test out your legs. I did it twice, once from the Tredaniel direction and once from Plessala, for those who can be bothered to let at Google Maps/Earth. I knew the legs weren't great when I had to drop into the inner ring on the first ascent, but on the second I stayed in the big ring and churned, creating a price my stiff back paid next morning. No matter, it was fantastic to be back in the saddle, out in the sunshine, and in France. Riding between 4 and 6 pm on a bright Tuesday afternoon in February on very rural roads in northern France is, to my mind, about as close to existential perfection as you're likely to get. Apart from perhaps cresting the top of Tourmalet, or cruising through the Pas de Calais on a warm September morning, get the idea. A theme has emerged.

The rides were topped off with a deep, hot bath, several glasses of red wine, and some admiration of my new fence. It doesn't take a lot to please me really does it? I managed another couple of rides that were bumpy in the extreme, though with no sustained climbs like the one above. I can't tell you anything else about them particularly because I was already in France by the time I noticed that my bike computer battery had packed up during the winter. So I took no map, I had no computer, although I had a mobile in my pocket because I was where I was it was useless to all intents and purposes, and no-one was expecting me home (Mrs M didn't arrive till I'd been there a few days). More joy; no data, no deadlines, no expectations, no-one to worry about. I don't think I'm cut out to be a full-time hermit, but I sure as heck like to be a part-time one every now and again. INTJ after all, I think we can assume (google MBTI if you're uninitiated).

After the complete freedom of riding the roads of Brittany, I've been back to the measured and sterile environment of my garage since I got home. Not fun, but very effective. I had planned to go out on the mountain bike today, but my badassness wasn't flourishing, so when the rain turned to snow about 8 am this morning, I changed my mind. Which brings me back to where I started....

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