To a man tied to a chair looking down the barrel of a gun, a lifetime, to an elderly Galapagos tortoise, an insignificant period.
For me, probably the most frustrating amount of time that currently exists. I am obsessed by it, to the point where I have written it on top of my mirror so that I see it daily as a reminder.
A couple of years ago, after several months of training, I rode up the Beast of Provence, Le Mont Ventoux, a full hour faster than the first time I’d tried it. An hour is a huge amount of time to take off such a short distance so all logic says I should have been delighted and the reality is that when I looked at my stopwatch at the top I was euphoric.
I might not look euphoric, but I really was. That feeling though didnt even last until I’d reached the bottom. I called the friend who’d ridden it with me the first time to tell him the good news, but very soon the feeling of that time being not quite good enough started to nag away at me.
2 hours, 8 minutes, 39 seconds.
I rode it again last month, for the sixth time, with absolutely no training at all in 2.45 or so. Rubbish, but I got up without stopping and I am aware that no training doesnt make that climb easy.
But I know that I have to lose those eight minutes and thirty nine seconds. They gnaw away at me like a demented beaver trying to stop the Aswan.
The problems though are myriad. I work away from home for four weeks at a time. There is no possibility of riding a bike during my four weeks away. Once home I could ride most days, but dont as I’m aware that all fitness gains would be lost once I get back to work. I am not getting any younger. People of all ages climb Le Ventoux, and “Chapeau” to each and every one of them. It’s a beast of a climb and reaching the top is an achievement in itself, but its a physiological fact that with each passing day I am losing a tiny amount of my physical capability. I’ve lost my mojo. When I rode my fastest time I was loving my cycling. I was riding every day, regularly over 300 miles in a week, which helps hugely. There are no proper hills where I live, but there are a couple of short steep climbs that I used to repeat until I couldn’t at least once a week. I doubt I rode 300 miles last year, and I know I haven’t this year with the inevitable weight gain that comes with it.
The only way I will lose those minutes is to spend several months riding my bike every day. Ideally I would rent my friends gite at the bottom of the hill for six months and ride the hill every week, with plenty of miles ridden on less demanding roads for the other days. This however is impossible for myriad reasons.
I read something recently though that applies. If it’s important you’ll find a way. If it’s not you’ll find an excuse.
Watch this space.