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Has Stu Kerton lost the ability to push himself to the limit!

The goal was there to do the full Tour of Wessex, with 330 miles in three days and plenty of climbing but when push came to shove I couldn't really be bothered - to do the full route at least. Have I got to accept the fact I'm no longer interested in pushing my body anywhere near its limits?

 If you read my 'Starting from scratch' piece from a few months ago you'll know I was on a bit of a comeback trail. With fitness and passion lost for the bike I needed a goal and the Tour of Wessex was the one I chose. The roads were pretty local and I'd done it a few times in the past so I knew what I was in for.

 

Tour of Wessex start line.jpg

 

Day one

On the start line in Langport  I was relatively psyched, well a 6am alarm call does manage to take the shine of things, and lined up with the thousand or so other riders I was looking forward to the 100 mile route and 2,000 meters of climbing. After all, the sun was shining which is rare for the Tour of Wessex.

The early miles were going well, I tagged onto to a group at the start and we covered the first ten miles at 21mph average. Cheddar Gorge was the first proper climb of the day and a little later the first food stop was reached with the speed only dropping a notch to 19mph.

Cheddar Gorge Tour of Wessex.jpg

Photo copyright Charles Whitton Photography

 

Mile fifty and the road was closed for a funeral procession in Bruton and although I was sure I needed to go left (which was open) the authority of the hi-viz tabard told me everyone else had gone right. Meandering through a couple of footpaths I rejoined the route only I had an inkling I was heading in the wrong direction.

The highlight of day one is the 25% ascent of King Alfred's Tower Hill and I was going the other way. I could of turned around but do you know what, I couldn't be arsed.

An hour and a half later I rolled through the finish line twenty miles short but the speed was pretty good at 17.7mph average.

Day two

Milton Abbas Tour of Wessex.jpg

Photo copyright Charles Whitton Photography

 

The precedent had been set the day before, the Tour of Wessex offers a shorter route, which for day two was 85 miles instead of the full 117 miles, so this is what I decided on while waiting on the start line. It still had 1,600 meters of climbing mind.

The usual tuck into a group for the first twenty miles helped the average speed but I was soon happy to start riding on my own.

We were heading for the Dorset coast and the weather was every so slightly warm, 25 degrees centigrade in fact with a nagging head wind all the way home.

The final thirty miles I could see a group of three coming up behind and becoming one of those riders that is guilty of turning a sportive into a race I didn't want to let them catch me. Head down and the old time triallist instincts came back with me finishing the route in an average speed of 17.8mph.

Day three

Devon was the farthest point if you were doing the full route including the long climb of Dunkery Beacon, my nemesis but once again I wasn't really feeling the love. The shorter route was short, just 61 miles but I really didn't fancy the 3,000m of climbing for the full ride. I wanted to get home and take the kids to the Sherborne Castle Country Fair.

After a 23mph blast to Bridgewater thanks to a very excitable London Dynamo rider it was the Quantocks which sorted the pecking order. 

In the group Tour of Wessex.jpg

Photo copyright Charles Whitton Photography

 

I already knew this from previous days but this Bank Holiday Monday it was confirmed, I can't climb for shit! The only thing that kept me grovelling up the 25% climb was I knew full well there was a descent on the way.

Hurtling into Crowcombe it was time to unleash my no holds barred descending style which saw me fly past people as if they were standing still while exploiting the full capability of the hydraulic discs on my Mason Definition, 58.5mph was hit before the last minute braking for the final bend and T-junction - whoever has the KOM for that descent, kudos my man as you are truly some kind of nutter.

After this the route split and I was heading for home. A missed turn meant I ended up on the outskirts of Taunton and while I could of gone back I knew another way back to HQ so it was head down to mix it with the holiday traffic underneath the M5 junction - always good for a laugh.

 

Job done then and while I was I chuffed with what I'd achieved - 220 miles and 4,000m of climbing all at 17.8mph average I did have that little pang of guilt that I hadn't done the job I'd set out to do. I was in the top ten though mind of the short group so an effort not to be sniffed at. 

Saying that though, I'd perfected that balance of cycling/family time by being home early afternoon everyday so had I really lost out?

 

So, what next - am I destined to a life of 'that'll do' or am I going to get that bug of really hurting myself back?   

     

Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.

10 comments

Avatar
sm [409 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

I think it is less "that'll do" and more "that's enough". I'm in a similar position. I no longer care to ride great distances. Being on the bike for six or seven hours can be boring. I prefer short and sharp, 50 miles and back home to live life after a few hours. Nice write up.

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Grahamd [1020 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

Priorities and motivation change through life. Adapting to such changes is never easy, accepting them harder still. Be glad that you are able to make the choice, rather than having it forced upon you through accident or illness. 

Don't beat yourself up, give yourself a break, it is clear you are still competetive, so get yourself a new training partner who will encourage and push you...if you still want it.

ps. Different bikes on different days?

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peted76 [1361 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

Stu, great write up! 

I empathise with you. However you're overthinking things and being to hard on yourself, you have a young hectic family, I don't know any big mile eaters who have young kids. Once the kids are a big bigger, you'll have more 'space' for audax if that's what you want to do. 

Focus on what you like about riding your bike and do more of it.. e.g decending - do more locally and go for the KOM's as goals.. 

 

Avatar
Bobbinogs [302 posts] 2 years ago
4 likes

Here's a novel idea...give up the endless and meaningless obsession with your avg speed because, you know what, no one else gives a jack shit. Ride your bike, learn to enjoy it rather than letting it become just a statfest and you may get your mojo back.

Avatar
tritecommentbot [2266 posts] 2 years ago
3 likes
Bobbinogs wrote:

Here's a novel idea...give up the endless and meaningless obsession with your avg speed because, you know what, no one else gives a jack shit. Ride your bike, learn to enjoy it rather than letting it become just a statfest and you may get your mojo back.

1. How is it 'endless'?

2. How can data be meaningless?

3. How do you know he's obssessed? Seems pretty normal to me to give feedback on average speed. Allows for comparison too for the reader.

If people enjoy stats and numbers and it motivates or maintains their interest then what's wrong with that. It's nonsense to suggest that people either enjoy riding or ride for stats. People enjoy their rides AND enjoy crunching the data.  

 

What's funny is you don't see people like Stu attacking people for riding or not talking about speed etc, yet you get riders like yourself, who somehow enjoy riding SO much and are having such a wonderful time that it makes you need to go online and attack people for doing what they like?

Angsty nonsense. Get a grip.

 

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madcarew [988 posts] 2 years ago
4 likes

Having  been a competetive racer for many years, a few years ago I found I couldn't be arsed with all the training, and the time it took out of my life. I started going on rides just for fun, with no computer / HR monitor or any tech. Sometimes I'd go out for 20 miles and come back 60 miles later, other times I'd go out for 80 miles and come back 20 miles later. I started to enjoy riding for riding again. After a 3 year hiatus where I'd go in the occasional crit because I really enjoy them, I'm back training and loving it and off to the UCI Gran Fondo world champs in Perth in Sept. Life's too short. Be Happy  1

PS Getting back from a ride early to take the kids to the fair... That's what The Good Life  is  made of. IMHO.

Avatar
rjfrussell [517 posts] 2 years ago
1 like
Bobbinogs wrote:

Here's a novel idea...give up the endless and meaningless obsession with your avg speed because, you know what, no one else gives a jack shit. Ride your bike, learn to enjoy it rather than letting it become just a statfest and you may get your mojo back.

I give a shit, so fuck you, fucktard.  Why knock someone who is writing very personally about where the balance lies between best performance and enjoyment?  May all your punctures be doubles when you only have one patch.

Avatar
peted76 [1361 posts] 2 years ago
1 like
rjfrussell wrote:
Bobbinogs wrote:

Here's a novel idea...give up the endless and meaningless obsession with your avg speed because, you know what, no one else gives a jack shit. Ride your bike, learn to enjoy it rather than letting it become just a statfest and you may get your mojo back.

I give a shit, so fuck you, fucktard.  Why knock someone who is writing very personally about where the balance lies between best performance and enjoyment?  May all your punctures be doubles when you only have one patch.

Bit harsh that, it's a Bertie Bassett world after all.

Bobbinogs does have a point (although his delivery of the point could have been better). Although I analyse my rides, at times without a HR or a garmin it can be quite refreshing just to go out and ride knowing that it'll not be tracked on strava or that I'll never know if I've bested a PB.

I believe under the lycra and aero helmets of most amateurs, there's a kid just 'dicking about' on his or her bike for fun. It'd do all of us good to remember that riding a bike is fun, and not supposed to be stressful! 

It'd probably do us all good to buy a BMX and hit the local pump track, or just to push our boundaries out there a little bit. 

 

Avatar
The _Kaner [1179 posts] 2 years ago
4 likes

CHIIIIIILLLL!

T'Internet is overflowing with pish....

We all (well some of us have...) different takes on why we cycle...they are not always a constant.

Some people use data to see if they are progressing toward a goal, others use it because it's there...and some don't use it at all...the devil be damned if I'm going to make anyone listen to my opinions on it...oh , wait...

Go ride, keep hydrated and stop picking at the scabs....

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Freddy56 [384 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Nice article. To the comments...your a bit mad. What ever, or why ever you ride a bike IS personal and fantastic. The haters above need to ride move and more. Eventually peace will be found in the spinning of the front hub.