I ride my bike up the bridleway from Lewes prison frequently and although I may not fly up on a 33lb Nomad, I trundle up easily enough.
I did borrow a Blur LT recently and found it lighter, but all that means is that you go a bit quicker and are just as tired at the top.
Now, maybe an experienced racer changes his effort levels depending on the course but most of us have a comfort effort level that we maintain. Obviously, it varies with the conditions and the length of ride but fit people ride faster irrespective of the ride. Therefore, if we ride with faster, fitter people we try to keep up; it hurts for a while, we get fitter and can then keep up.
Since I ride quite frequently, I feel quite fit. I can manage most hills, most obstacles and can mostly keep up. I would like to go faster/be fitter/ find it easier, but Father Time is like a fat bloke on the back of my tandem that seems to get heavier over time.
I know that it is a losing battle. However, I try to ride more often, eat more healthily etc, etc, etc.
So I thought it might help to try a short run or two when I don’t have enough time for a ride. I mean how hard could it be?
I used to run a long time ago, and I do not mean occasionally, more like every day. Then I could cover the ground easily, flowing over the terrain with an easy gait and could run for miles. I presumed it would be as if I had never stopped running, unfortunately, by the end of the garden path it felt like I had never started.
Instead of sitting on a soft comfortable saddle, I had to have to carry all my weight while trying to make some rudimentary progress forward. Muscles that have atrophied whilst cycling screamed as they were dragged into use. My heart rate, normally one hundred on this stretch of road on the bike, jumped to one hundred and fifty and the road was flat; in fact, it might even have been slightly downhill.
Reaching the first corner, I turned uphill where I am always tempted to reach for the brake on the bike. But no worries now, as I turned uphill I nearly stopped. An easy uphill climb had become a test of determination. Slowly plodding upwards I realised that my legs were still cycling and even with 175mm cranks, your legs do not stretch much. I had a ridiculously short stride.
Fortunately, there was no one about to see this sad attempt at fell running but it took ages to climb the hill. I was learning that cycling muscles and running muscles are separate and distinct because thousands of miles on the bike counted for nothing. It was even harder running downhill as your stride needs to lengthen still further.
As I stopped to open a gate I warily eyed a loose black dog. I would easily evade it on a bike but now it would not even have to break into a run to catch me. The owner called and leashed the dog and asked the most disheartening question as I went past.
“Are you running?”
I continued shuffling.
Although I made it back, it actually took longer downhill than it had uphill and forty minutes running felt like two hours hard riding. Worse was to come as the muscles left dormant for so long before being dragged back into use ached for days.
The last time I went for a run may have been some time in the last century but I will not leave it so long again and maybe my Father Time on my tandem might lose a little weight.