this post is not about ‘juggling work’, as in busking with fire clubs or a set of soft sandy harlequin beanbags. i dislike juggling, almost as much as i dislike jugglers.
in an ideal world, work would be cycling, or at least have some vague connection to cycling. in reality, i spend a large proportion of my day struggling not to click onto cycling websites various and stay focused on the task in hand. this effort becomes extreme during the racing season where monday morning is a total smorgasbord of cycling bongo, catching up on the weekend’s events from various members of the parish on a multitude of cycling forums.
right now work is really kicking off – it’s one of those horribly busy phases where it’s not near enough to christmas, and too far from a previous holiday. when you work a really long day, in excess of 10 hours, it’s hard to find the motivation to go out and ride for a further hour before you get home for tea. it requires all sorts of preparation – including eating at the right time and so on. this week has been fallow, i have been out once on the bike since sunday, and know i will get out only once more before saturday. it’s a shame because i felt that last week went really well, lots of mileage, legs felt good, sense of purpose, excitement to be keeping it all ticking over.
when push comes to shove, here’s how i manage the cycling-work balance:
1. do the training ride in the morning. it means getting up an hour (at least) earlier, and being organised. i do a 15-20 mile route to work. this is hilly, and fixed. it’s not an easy ride, but neither is it a total hammerwielder. right now, it’s about a nice tempo ride to keep everything going and prevent that horrible winter atrophy – like that moment in the shining where the beautiful lady in the bath turns into something altogether more unsavoury.
the reason i do the hilly ride in the morning is because once you’re up and out, it’s the best part of the day. crazy stuff happens in winter, amazing and ephemeral encounters with wildlife that seem magical – like the deer i saw in the halflight of dawn on belmont recently. by the evening this edenic scene has often been tramsmogrified into a veritable horror show, like the bloated and torn corpse of a road-killed badger i rode through near wrington a year back.
beyond that, there’s another compelling reason why you should ride in the morning, on the way or before work – because it’s easier, and the miles are done. i never feel like riding after a long day at work. whereas once out on the road in the mornings i feel awake and alive, and other such cliches. and when i get to work, shot through with endorphins, i feel vaguely smug. (it doesn’t last long).
2. a quieter week is absolutely fine in the context of a couple of big or even steady mileage weeks. i treat it as a breather, and then use the weekend to get back out and keep on it.
3. cycling for an hour or so is the perfect antidote to a savage day at work. it clears the head and empties out the mind of the insidious stresses that accumulate, almost unnoticed. get into that fugue state, feel the physical rush of the air past your face and forget about the petty troubles of the poor. suddenly take control of your destiny and the shape of the moment, wrest it back from the savagery of the system by riding your bike, on your own.
4. when the weather is nice, or mild, or just wet, or just windy, you have to go out and ride your bike. this is because when it gets icy you have to stay in and not ride your bike, or run the risk of a broken limb. it’s as simple as that. when the weather turns, hit the turbo. until that point, get out on the road and wear proper kit.
this weekend i will be riding to cheltenham. belle has suggested she drive behind with a loudspeaker and a cowbell, shouting ‘hup hup hup’, maybe with my name plastered across the bonnet. this actually makes me really excited.
(go 2 minutes in)
that’s about it. stay warm.