The cost of cycling

So I am getting back on track with the cycling. In fact I have just done my first week where I have actually completed the suggested mileage from the folks at The Great British Bike Ride. That means I have actually ridden 124 miles compared to the suggested 120! It is hopefully not the last time either.

So how do I feel? Well, knackered for a start. The conditions probably haven’t helped, as it has been pretty windy this week. Although for me, anything over about 5mph feels like a gale when cycling into it. I think this week it has been about 15 or so, and that has been horrible, especially on the longer runs this weekend. I did 82 miles yesterday and today, and my legs feel like it was nearer 182.

Further to my last blog entry, as I was going along today I was just thinking about something that someone said to me when I started out cycling all those (is it nine?) weeks ago. In fact I think it was a comment that someone put on this very blog – they said ‘welcome to cycling – you will spend more on accessories than you did buying your bike’ or words to that effect. I thought this rather unlikely at best, especially as I forked out £1,000 for my bike. Now just trying to tot things up is a pretty scary thing to do, and I have spent roughly the following…..ahem:

Helmet £60
Glasses £30
Track pump £40
Five cycling shirts £200
Bib shorts x2 £160
Socks x5 £50 (yes really)
Shoes £60
Pedals £40
Cleats £20
Energy drinks £84 (two big tubs thereof)
Energy bars and electrolyte gels £123
Inner tubes £25
Tyres £50
Chain bath £20
Bottles and cages £25
Stand £80

There is more stuff, but that is all I can immediately think of. It adds up already to £1,067. Holy smokes! What is more, I need things like a decent lock, a backpack, some lights etc. So whilst some of the above I could perhaps have done without, I haven’t been overly extravagant at all (OK so £50 a time on shirts is a bit rich I admit,

but they are nice:)). Oh and this before my bib shorts for the GBBR and odds and sods that I cannot recall. Scary stuff indeed.

I have now six weeks before I head off to Lands End – lots and lots of cycling still to do, but a few distractions in-between. Hopefully I get away without spending a further small fortune too.

I think my next post will be on the interesting topic of whether you should wear underwear when you are cycling. That one confused the heck out of me too when I started out, but now I know the answer for sure…….

It’s getting closer…….

Right, so I thought I’d better update this as I have been delinquent for a while.

Firstly, the cycling is sort of on track, as it were, if not exactly entirely up to speed and to plan. I made myself a sort of childlike wallchart/calendar thing, which is quite embarrassing and so I won’t put a picture up here, but the idea was to get me to try to stick to my schedule. It was supposed to be 60 miles a week for the first few weeks, then 70 miles, and then up to 120 miles last week. My totals per week have been 22, 23, 58, 68, 51, 57, 58, and 109. I have therefore not yet achieved a full week, but I have so many excuses I could write a book about them.

I know this much – cycling for me is bloody hard work. When I trained for Kilimanjaro, it was by and large pretty easy stuff. Sure sometimes I came home tired sometimes from a gym workout, or I moaned a bit at doing bodypump classes (ok, so I moaned a lot), but this is off the scale. I don’t think the weather has helped – our great summer that we are having is not conducive to going and killing yourself up a steep climb on a bike.

Take Saturday for example. The longest that I had cycled up until last weekend was 23 miles, and that was once and once only. I had to do 40 on Saturday per my schedule, and so I looked around on (good website by the way), and found a ride that looked to fit the bill from where I am now in Abingdon. Trouble was, a mile after I set out I was ready to turn back, as it was about 30 degrees C and sweltering. I did persevere though, only to find that when I reached what I thought was the half way point that I had already done 32 miles. Bugger! I managed to find a slightly shorter route back (during which time I had to admit that if I had seen a bus or a taxi appear that would have been the end of the ride), but still managed to end up doing 53 miles. The end result was a mixture of a sense of achievement tinged with a feeling that my thighs had been run over by a steamroller. Getting up the next day to do it again was therefore not a fun experience. I did just 32 on Sunday, but I was still pleased with that.

The thing is though, I am cycling on fairly flat terrain here (Oxfordshire is about as flat as Norfolk when all is said and done), and when I get to Devon and Cornwall it is not going to be nice at all. And then I have to 96 miles on the first day, followed by 86 on the second etc. That is going to be very painful, and if it were now there is no way at all that I could even contemplate it.

I have also started wasting, sorry spending, money on drink supplements. I am a sucker for these sort of things. I have ‘Energy Drink Elite’ (take it an hour before you start), ‘Energy Pro’ (drink whilst riding), and ‘Recovery Drink Rapide’ (does what it says on the tin, allegedly). All these things are powders that you mix into water, and taste completely horrible. The Recovery Drink Rapide is particularly nasty. It is supposed to be Strawberry flavour, but tastes more like toilet cleaner to me, probably. I think these three tubs of powder cost me over £100. Sucker, see. I also bought a frame to mount my bike on so I could clean it and do maintenance on it. What a waste of time – I hate cleaning anything, and don’t know where to start with it, so that was a waste of £200 or so for a start! Oh and don’t get me started on cycling socks. Last weekend I was at Lords to watch the England v Australia game, and I met one of the chaps from work who had also climbed Kilimanjaro, and for some reason I started telling him that I now had about six pairs of cycling socks at £15 a pop. He looked at me like I had just told him that I had sold my house and invested all the proceeds in gravy granules or something. I decided not to extol the merits of the socks to him after that – I mean there are some, aren’t there?

So anyways, it is only now six weeks of hard training to go. The schedule gets tougher as it builds up to the big week. Trouble is I go on holiday in two weeks time , and then two weeks after that I have the annual family get-together to stage, which is basically a weekend of drinking as much vodka as you can (seriously). That is three weeks stuffed then, and I guess me eating porridge for breakfast is not going to save me from that is it?

I think it is time to be afraid, be very afraid………