It’s really about motivation. This year several riders have had a fall that has forced time off the bike but most are back in the saddle – except me. Collapsed lungs, broken ribs, broken wrists and Alex and his famous attempt of head landing are all much more serious than me hurting a little finger but it takes ages to heal, even a little.
I have sat about a bit, looked at some bike bits and sort of waited. I have become an expert at dropping things including phones, lights, tools, cups and sugar jars. I am rubbish with a set of tyre levers. Rubbish at removing tyres that is but brilliant at random firings in all directions so you have been warned.
I could not hold a handlebar so steering was a challenge but the offroad, flat tarmac of a disused railway line was a start. Following Tom’s advise of one finger braking I changed the set up to force this a little and can manage to brake and steer but only a bit. I have managed a couple of SDW sections where I ascend really slowly and descend even slower but I have not fallen off despite the front brake screaming through the darkness in protest.
My only advantage is that I am quite motivated in knowing that biking gets me out, keeps me fitter, stops me getting fatter and hopefully brings me a few hours of fun with other little boys playing on their bikes. Not very adult but so what.
Some riders reflect British Summer Time and appear in spring on a clean bike. Despite complaints about a lack of fitness they all manage to re-gain it remarkably quickly, have instant bike handling skills and fall back into the pack with ease. Come October and they disappear with the appearance of the dark night starts like hibernating bears till another year begins. Returning seems easy for them.
Youthfulness may be a factor but this was lost to me, almost recently, so three months lost is about fifty rides so maybe one hundred to recover and fifty more to keep up properly – about March. Or just in time for everyone else to return with a casual fitness wasted on the young.
So my route back was check the bike and repair the damage caused by the puncture gremlins who attack any bike left in the dark. Drag out kit and lights and re-charge. A swap of dry, summer tyres and winter mudguards fitted just left a bit of pedalling. If you have had time off the bike then it is hard to make that first ride and any excuses constantly obstruct your best intentions but overcome these and you find it easy to back pedalling. It is the feel of riding that should grab you back and a solo ride takes off any pressure on the day. Second ride may be harder as you need to have a real intention to return but if you do then the pull of the bike should be there and all the things you like about riding are all there appearing as little reminders along the way.
For me finding a routine got me out and trying a hill or two helped me with a gentle challenge that reminded me of what I miss. I aimed for intermediate things (“platforming”) to help me along the way and tried to find a kick point midway like here in the photo. Others may prefer doughnuts.
If you have been away then you may need to find your own way back but a short ride or two and then perhaps join an easier ride to get you back out in the company of others could be all you need.
So if you have been away I will be back on Thursday, wobbling on the twisty stuff, puffing on a hill and determinedly earth bound but I will be back so do you want to grab your bike and join me tomorrow?
I will be on an orange bike at the back unfortunately. Can’t wait.