Since my last blog, racing has tailed off a bit so with not much happening for a couple of months my attention turned to cycling once more. I’d still been keeping up with a couple of rides a week to work and back, iPod on for the 19 mile scenic route running through the same old playlist. For those out there who haven’t seen Disney’s latest film ‘Frozen’ I can recite the script/soundtrack with ease (please stay behind after class for the full rendition). With young Ted being at nursery if you’re not into Frozen you’re nobody! I reckon I’m up to about 8 viewings of the film and the soundtrack is on permanent repeat in the car. So it was no surprise as I’m turning the pedals up a steep (well not that steep really but it seemed it to me) climb out of Frodsham that the headline song burst into my headphones ‘Let It Go’. Not only did I leave it to play but actually found myself singing along. Now I don’t claim to have ever been badass but singing along to Disney, what exactly has happened to my life?

As my 35th birthday approached I found myself tuning into Radio 2 for longer and longer each day, no longer able to stand the dance/trance/teenie bopper junk that Radio 1 air to the world. I also have stuff like Meatloaf on my iPod, music that I wouldn’t have dreamt of listening to ten years ago even though it was in existence. I can only conclude that I must be officially old.

Dave Read, a member of the Warrington motor club and also a keen cyclist suggested that I meet up with him and his mate Colin on a Wednesday night for the local cycling club’s ten mile time trial. It seemed like a great idea, at the time, I didn’t really know what to expect but going along with a couple of other blokes would be better than turning up like Billy no mates. Meeting at Dave’s house we rode the six miles to the start of the event at Shakerley Mere near Knutsford. Signed on and £3 fee paid we pinned our numbers on and had a look around at some of the other competitors. Some were on full on knife edged time trial bikes and wearing aerodynamic helmets looking like something out of Tron. Many were just on road bikes like us and the atmosphere was pretty relaxed. Some had, but I hadn’t, gone as far as shaving their legs. I figured that enough hair had dropped from my receding hairline to counteract the amount of drag that my hairy legs might be providing.

The bikes start at one minute intervals, you sit on the chalked line on the road feet clipped into the pedals with a start marshal holding the bike up. In a nutshell they count you down from ten seconds, push you off and you pedal as hard as possible for the next ten miles! I was slightly concerned that I might get lost to be honest, not knowing the area very well and various people chipping in with landmarks and directions was adding to my confusion. I figured that I’d just follow the guy in front anyway. So the count down began, a push off the line and I was on my way. Within 3 minutes I decided that I must be pushing too hard. I was breathing like a man dying and my heart rate monitor was reading numbers greater than I’d ever seen before. I didn’t want to bonk (cycling term) halfway around the course so figured I’d better pace it out a bit better. In cycling terms bonking is what happens when you run out of energy and have to eat/drink to fuel yourself to carry on. Where I come from bonking means something completely different!

Dave had gone off a minute ahead of me, being 18 years my senior I secretly hoped that I could catch him up or at least make some ground on him. At the three mile point I was starting to wonder why the hell I was putting myself through this. Jo and Ted had parked up to cheer me on, Ted was cheering and waving, Jo was shaking her head and looking at her watch. “Two minutes” she said as I passed which I guessed was the time that I was now behind Dave! Colin, who set off a minute behind me, flew passed me shortly afterwards head down and seemingly the only thing moving on man and machine were the wheels, the pedals and his legs. I, in total contrast, was weaving and nodding like West Tip getting a whipping from Richard Dunwoody entering the final furlong at Aintree.  Another rider overtook me looking smooth and fast, I guessed that the next one to come by would either have a shopping basket or be a ten year old on a BMX! I nearly missed the turning off the A50, just catching a glimpse of Bradley Wiggins (well the speed he was going it must’ve been him), who had passed me earlier, showed me the way to go. A slight downhill section was welcome and I got my head down, thighs burning and I was start to count the miles down to the finish!

My aim had been to finish in under 30 minutes (or 20mph average), I aim for this time regularly on my journey to work but it rarely happens, from my onboard speedo it was looking like it might. An uphill section for the last mile was a real killer, especially as for the last 300 yards it climbed steeper over a motorway bridge. I crossed the line, after not pedalling for half of the down slope, to finish at 28 minutes 30 seconds. 18 seconds slower than Dave, bugger! The fastest guys, who obviously must’ve been holding onto the passing cars or something, finished five minutes faster! Five minutes, where is that amount of time? I scanned the results to make sure that I wasn’t last! I had beaten three people of the 22 who ran, and one of them was a man! By the time I’d calmed my breathing back down I’d decided that I had actually enjoyed myself! During the ride I possibly wasn’t quite convinced but I now find myself addicted to going faster!

I upped my weekly cycling mileage for the following week, to about 150 and arrived at the Mere knowing the route and how much pain to expect – I must be able to do this quicker I convinced myself! Dave set off behind me this time, Colin was absent after breaking his collarbone in a fun cycling event at the weekend, bloody dangerous this cycling! Knowing where I was going, where the slopes were etc helped me no end this time. I ran a slightly faster time for the first section of course and aimed on keeping my speed above 22mph as much as possible throughout. I knew things were going better and I actually passed three others on the road. The pain really started to set in for that last mile, but I kept my head down knowing the distance to the finish this time – crossing the line in a time of 27min 40secs. Almost a minute faster than the previous week and actually feeling less knackered too. Dave was stood at the finish which confused me as he had set off behind me and hadn’t passed me on the road. As it turned out one of his pedals had fallen off during the ride and he had to get a lift back! I scanned the results again and was pleasantly surprised to have finished 10th out of 24. Dave got a lift home and I rode the 18 miles home after the event in what ended up being a hard day. Working on motorbikes all day, warming up during the 6 mile ride to the start, 10 miles flat out, then 18 miles home I was ready for dinner when I got in that was for sure! No bonking for me!!

I’ve now put an entry for the Manchester 100 mile cycle ride (August 31st), I’m doing it in aid of a charity called Joining Jack who are attempting to raise £100,000 in the event. They hope to get 1000 people each to raise £100. I’ve never used his blog to beg before, as it’s not something that’s in my genetic make up, but please if you like what you read then you can easily donate by following this link.

To date I’ve raised absolutely bugger all, so it would be nice to actually be able to donate something to the cause at the end of the ride!

After this I’ve entered the mid-September Etape Cymru, which is an 85 mile cycle ride taking in some enormous climbs in North Wales, the Horseshoe pass being the one of most note. I really don’t know what I’ve let myself in for as I’m more your steam it along the flat kind of rider, than a climber, but fingers crossed I’ll be able to complete the course.

As always I’ll keep you posted.

Mackers #30

Ian Mackman