A week in the life of a cyclist

Sunday. The cyclist’s week begins when others end. Day of the big ride, solo, club or friends. Minimum 2 hours, preferably more. Up early, earlier than what Sunday’s are designed for, early enough to see late night stragglers returning home bleary eyed and wobbly legged. That’ll be you later.

The Sunday ride ensues. The usual pattern, the only question your fitness and if it’s you dishing out the pain or on the receiving end. Must not be dropped.

Home. Quick, quick, the clock is ticking on your twenty minute recovery window. Quick! Or is it 40 minutes? Probably time for a quick look at the Strava data. An hour later you have the decision between a shower and food.

One look at the protein power recipe for the latest super trend food is enough to send you head first into the fridge, the balance of quality over quantity tipping heavily towards the latter.

You eat without discrimination. The protein-carb balance is near enough you reckon. There’s carbs in beer. Last night’s dog meat kebab is full of protein, amongst other things.

Heck, you don’t need to justify yourself. You’ve just ridden further than the majority of car journeys today. A long shower is followed by a quick sit down before you can attend to the rest of day.

You wake up a couple of hours later, groggy, hungry. The day is almost done, no point moving now is there? 

The day in emojis

Monday. The hangover. Yes you overdid the town sign sprint, not to mention each of the 66 miles prior. You ache. All over. You sigh a lot. So much so you have to check there’s not an orchestra of old men behind you.

Escalators are your friend. You lie down a lot with your feet raised high. Nap time is every twenty minutes. You need a butler. And new muscles.

Better stretch. Mostly in the form of yawns. These moves looked much easier on Instagram. The foam roller makes for an excellent foot rest. What? No, you don’t look odd lying on the couch in your thigh compression things. Not odd at all. Oh no.

The day in emojis

Tuesday. Still aching. Nothing else much going on. Peak recovery mode. Attempting stretches you half remember from poorly illustrated diagrams that didn’t quite explain how to stretch your whatdoyoucallit muscle. More harm than good. Time for a recovery shake. You’ve earned it.

Better clean the bike, it looks like it has been on a safari in a monsoon. You feel weak so indiscriminately wave a wet wipe in the general direction of the frame. Quick, rub that dirt into the carpet before someone notices.

You take a bath. No bubbles. Some sort of weird crystals that promise miraculous muscle recovery and turn the water an unfortunate shade of urine yellow. Nobody can relax in yellow water.

Back to the fridge for the painkillers. Only beer can numb the dull ache.

The day in emojis

Wednesday. Legs a little better. Time for another ride. A gentle one, you know the one when you ride too far and too fast aka the active recovery ride.

What? It’s not often you get to get compete for the Club Hill Climb Championship, not until the next hill anyway. This is the race everyone knows about despite never talking about it.

The victor never celebrates because to do so would show how hard they were trying to win the imaginary yet very real race. And of course they weren’t trying. Oh no. Not a chance they were on the limit. Show offs, you think, I’ll have them on the next climb.

The day in emojis

Thursday. A little sore as you plan the weekend ride. You’re already thinking about jersey and sock combinations. Mentally cataloguing the food cupboard for your preferred carbohydrate and protein blend. Must get some beer in.

Planning the route it’s difficult to leave out that extra climb which is not too far from that lovely climb, which leads to that little beast. Before you know it a gentle 35 mile spin has become a 90 mile self-made monster sportive with more climbing than a big day in the Alps. Shit, 90 miles you think. Just ten more for the metric century. Why not? Everyone likes a round number.

Recovery ride

You go for a little ride to shake out the legs for the weekend. 3 hours later you’re home, head in fridge, legs throbbing. Ready.

The day in emojis

Friday. Preparation time. Some half-assed core strength exercises first thing. Still can’t hit 15 sit-ups. Porridge. Your own special mix. 75% honey, 20% blueberry, 5% oats. You can’t understand why people don’t like porridge.

Take it easy at work. Limit the number of trips to the printer. Email everyone, including the folk sat next to you. Rehydrate. Downing little paper cones of water one after another. Smashing them back as if you’d just walked the Sahara.

Return home and begin to worry about your lack of Strava activity. Post a non-cycling activity, just to prove you’re still alive and get the mileage up. Intervals cutting the grass.

Friday night. Carb loading at the bar. A pint of beer has 18g of carbohydrates. Another five should just about do it. Pints not grams.

Don’t forget to neglect the protein packed peanuts. Did someone say Scotch egg? Don’t mind if I do. It’ll save me having two kebabs on the way home.

The day in emojis

Saturday. Enforced rest, laid low by a hangover that suggests your carb loading programme was a success. A raging success. You’re grouchy, the perfect opportunity to attempt the fiddly mechanical repair to your front derailleur.

Three hours later you’re all sworn out and the noise from the chain rubbing against the derailleur is worse than when you began. It’ll do. You can get the hammer on it next week.

You check the weather. Every hour. Rain threatens. You check the club forum for casualties. Sure enough the 12 strong group whittles down quickly. Excuses rolled out. Kids. Family. Injuries. Pah! Nobody mentions the real reason. The weather.

You’re super keen but of course will pull out at the first sign of drizzle. You’re pretty sure you can feel the early signs of a hamstring twinge, the pain heightened whenever the clouds darken.

The weather front moves north. You’re clear. Better start pre-preparing the excuses in case you get dropped tomorrow.

Kit laid out, ready for the morning. It’s only lunch time. Counting down the hours. Being nice around the house and helping with the chores before you mutter something about a short ride tomorrow, just the seven hours.

No cycle racing on the TV you turn to the internet and begin inadvertently browsing the sales in the cycle shops. Of course you need an extra pair of knee warmers. You just never know how quickly you’ll wear through the other six pairs you have. 

The day in emojis

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Lead image by Bich Tran


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