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TRAT 2010 - Snow joke


In 167 days I'm going to be one of 15 cyclists on the start line of The Race Against Time, a Land's End to John O'Groats ride that takes six days - which translates to an average of something like 145 miles a day.

Preparing for a 874 mile bike ride is no small undertaking for a 46 year-old with a dodgy back, a busy life dominated by two small children, and no rides longer than 100 miles under his belt.

So I need all the training time I can get, obviously, which makes this snowy spell unbelievably frustrating. With 167 days to go I haven't been able to cycle so much as 167 yards for weeks thanks to the snow, ice, salt, grit and all that wintry stuff. Actually, that's not quite true - I went out a week ago for a quick 25-miler but all that did was serve to remind me how unfit I am and clog the bike with clag. I've not been out since.

January was supposed to be all about getting past that horrible post-festive season fitness slump when the slightest exertion brings you out in a toxic sweat and those heady summer days when you feel like you could keep going for weeks seem nothing but a cruel joke. It was supposed to lay the foundations for some serious progress made in February and March, so I could move into spring with a little bit of confidence. That's what this month's supposed to be about, but here we are a third of the way through it and I've spent most of it staring balefully out of the window willing the thaw to begin.

There's always the turbo trainer of course. On paper, the turbo trainer looks like an excellent substitute when the road's out of reach. And it is a good substitute - once I've managed my family's expectations about the availability of our breakfast room for the coming hour or two, and I've tunnelled to the turbo trainer in the back of the coat cupboard, moved 16 pairs of shoes, one vacuum cleaner, three vacuum cleaner attachments, four rucksacks, my bicycle pump, a football and three coats that have fallen off their hooks while I've been wrestling all the other stuff out of the cupboard.

Once I've done that it's just a matter of swapping the bike's rear axle for the one supplied with the turbo trainer, finding the mat I put under the bike so the whole house doesn't howl eerily with each pedal stroke, setting the bloody thing up, getting changed, sorting out towel, water and music, and then, finally, getting on and pedalling. For over an hour. Stationary. In my own breakfast room.

Then of course, once I've done my thing and I'm feeling all virtuous, I have to undo everything I've done to set it up, including that exasperating repacking of the coat cupboard, which somehow always seems that bit harder than the unpacking part.

Still, it really is better than nothing I suppose. But come on now, snow! Enough's enough!

Lifelong lover of most things cycling-related, from Moulton Mini adventures in the 70s to London bike messengering in the 80s, commuting in the 90s, mountain biking in the noughties and road cycling throughout. Editor of Simpson Magazine ( 

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