Nearly New Cyclist, New Start, New Year's Resolutions

There’s no getting away from it: I am a New Cyclist.

Let’s be clear: I’m not a new cyclist. I learned to ride a bike over forty years ago. In the meantime I’ve ridden a lot, on and off, and covered thousands of miles. Years ago, when I lived in Germany, I cycled everywhere, mostly on a borrowed 1950s delivery boy's bike made by Miele, which handled like (and weighed as much as) a washing machine.



More recently, when I had a real job in the City, I used to commute by bike, meaning I spent about an hour and a half a day in the saddle. I’ve even been on couple of cycling holidays, one of which I inflicted on my family (see below for evidence).

What I mean by “New Cyclist” is this. I’m in my mid-forties. I used to be an investment banker. I’m a couple of stone overweight. I like coffee, and I froth my own milk. I ride a carbon-framed bike I bought from Wiggle. I have a motley collection of (mostly lycra) cycling kit which I chose almost entirely on the basis of online reviews written by people I've never heard of. Even if I had mates to go riding with, I would have no idea how to ride in a group. I am very intimidated by the idea of joining a cycling club. I’m even intimidated by cycling shops: places which, in my experience, often resemble the hi-fi stores satirised by Not the Nine O’Clock News. In short, I’m a Nigel.

What’s more, there is no chance I will ever graduate to being a Clifford. I’m not going to devote my life to cycling. I’m not going to train for six hours a day. I’m not going to give up beer altogether. I’m not going to starve myself, or take PEDs like some of the amateur clowns trying to “win” sportives, or live on pollen like Robert Millar did.

But I don’t care. I really do enjoy cycling: not just the turning-the-pedals bit, but the whole thing: the history, the culture, the kit, the story, the sport, the sheer variety of it all. To me, the bicycle is more than just a form of transport. I’m not just a commuter or a fairweather friend of the bike. So I’m a cyclist, even if the Cliffords resent my saying so.

So I could just keep pedalling around on my own. I’d be quite happy doing that. But I’ve decided that this year will be different. I’m not under any illusions about my talents or prospects; nor do I care if (OK, when) I get overtaken by (if you will forgive the antediluvian, male-chauvinist-pig term) girls. But I am going to take matters a bit more seriously.

To this end, I have compiled a list of New Year’s Resolutions for the New Cyclist. Here goes:

  1. Ride a lot
    • I’m fortunate enough not to have a proper job, at least at the moment. I have a family, which takes up exactly as much time as you let it, and I want it to let it take up plenty. But I also have time to ride. So there’s no excuse for not getting on the bike (almost) every day.
  2. Train in a sensible, targeted, structured way
    • In the past all I have ever really done is get on my bike and ride. This is great, but it does make it hard to tell whether you are getting fitter or not. Also, I live in London, where the traffic, junctions, roundabouts, kamikaze pedestrians, white vans, buses and so on make it hard to stick to a programme. So a lot of the time I’ll be on the turbo, steaming up the garage.
      Suggestions for iPod listening matter (preferably spoken word & podcasts) are very welcome. Oh, and in addition to the turbo, I intend to . . .
  3. Learn to ride the rollers
    • I am aware that this may end badly.  In fact it already has: when I tried to unfold my brand new Arion Elite rig - exactly per the instruction manual - I was greeted by a loud cracking noise as the frame snapped clean through.  Wiggle customer returns department, here I come . . .
  4. Go on at least one really long ride
    • I’m embarrassed to admit that the longest ride I have been on in the last twenty years is the very slow 60km I did one day while on holiday in Brittany with my family. In my defence, I was riding a Dawes tandem which weighed more than me, and my “stoker” was a sullen 6-year old who refused to pedal on the hills unless bribed with Orangina.
  5. Try riding a track bike on an actual track
    • I live about 12km from Herne Hill, and about the same difference away from the Olympic Velodrome. I have fulfilled both my genetic purpose by fathering children, and my moral duty by making adequate provision for them in my will. My life having no particular further object, I therefore have absolutely no excuse for not trying track riding at least once.
  6. Keep a diary on the Conquista website
    • So far, so good.
  7. Have a ton of fun
    • For some reason, this seems to be the difficult bit. I know cycling is supposed to be hard. I know about Rule #5, and Rapha’s Art of Suffering, and all that cobblers. But I’m not interested in spending my precious leisure time being miserable. Nor do I think it is necessary. So I refuse to.

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