Style Counsel: The First Ride Back

How to ease out of hibernation and slip back into the ride cycle.

There are two types of cyclist: those who ride through winter - and those who don't. Oh, and those who have every intention of riding through winter and have the warmest wet weather gear, but if it so much as looks like rain, will stay inside. For the whole winter. Ok, that's three types of rider, but the third one is probably the most common and it doesn't sound grammatically correct to say there are three types of rider. The point is, a lot of us (me included) are probably talking about “getting back into it” as the days creep towards lighter hours, with beanies no longer required. And, if you've been sedentary-cycling (i.e, watching the Tour is the closest you've gotten to a bike) then you––or more precisely, your body––will be in for a shock when you do the annual (or bi-, tri- or really-high-annual) ritual of kitting up and hitting the road. But there are ways to deal with the comeback blues and look like you've just returned from a full season in Europe on a Continental team.

The First Ride Back (or even the First Block Back, for those who 'train' rather than 'ride') is probably the ride you’ll do the most. It’ll be the hardest ride you’ll ever do, too. You’ll do it so often that it should be easy, but it never is. Its frequency is such that it really should morph into all the other rides of its ilk, therefore negating the actual nexus of this necessary evil ride. But it never does. It’s always stuck out there on its own, no matter what the duration between it and the next one is. It could be months or it could be only a week, but it’ll never leave - like that mate who stays for 'a couple of nights', yet really should be paying rent after the first month, or at least offering a 20 for some food. This is the modus operandi of the FRB.

The best way to deal with the FRB is to keep it indoors. Get on the trainer and just spin it out for a while. You won't have to worry about getting dropped or blowing up far away from home, and once you’ve finished you can just peel yourself from the bike into the lounge with a beer, and sob to yourself about how unfit you've become. Although, in these days of computerised training and racing, you may come out of winter fitter and faster than you went in. If so, this story is not for you - and your dedication makes me sick. For us lazy bastards who bought new lights and used them approximately once, give yourself a fighting chance before you head outside.