Joie de vivre

After the wonderful summer I had, starting my 2nd winter on the bike just felt like a chore.  The last sportive I had completed was the Giants Causeway Coast Sportive and well if you read my last blog you’ll know it left me a broken woman, resulting in being off the bike sick with silly head colds and ear infections. When I felt better I decided to attempt a specific winter training plan. It wasn’t easy, but I guess starting something new, never is. It didn’t last long, I couldn’t seem to keep my heart rate down when cycling within specific training zones. I will admit, this tormented me, and I wondered was it something to do with my family’s cardiac history or was my Garmin computer set up incorrectly, something didn’t seem right.

Scrolling through all my Strava activity my average and max heart rates have consistently been between 160 – 188bpm on any spin. A doctor’s appointment, fasting bloods and an ECG later confirmed all is fine. But by this stage, I stressed myself out from the whole situation, silly I know but I felt it was time for a break.  

Instead, I embraced the Danish way of living and brought more hygge into my world. I think you could say I rested myself a thousand times. Except for sitting in traffic in the dark to and from work I embraced the last three months. The cold weather makes me crave moreish food, I enjoy walks in the outdoors, I love how the colours of our landscape change, drinking decent coffee, fixated on the flickering candle stick flame while watching Netflix or sipping Guinness in a quiet pub and spending time with people who care about me, my joie de vivre.

Once the festive season started I realised it was time to snap out of my hibernation, hard as it was I got out on a club spin. A 72km coffee ride out to Poppies in Newtownmountkennedy, Wicklow. It was great to be out with my cycling pals, a little embarrassed at my fitness levels I did my best. After coffee we headed from Poppies to Djouce golf club. Cycling up Cooladoyle climb I was mortified at how slow I was going, and the gent that he is, Mr. Orange stayed with me, chatting while distracting me from the elevation. In short, it’s a bloody stinger of a climb, once done we regrouped with the rest of the gang.  Without loosing my momentum in the run up to New Year I got out on a few road spins and completed a couple of turbo sessions while watching the Crown on Netflix, it’s hard to abstain

I'm slowly building my fitness back up, as for the heart rate averages, I'm letting go. I'm leaving that to the real athletes. My resting heart rate is 54bpm and I have postural hypotension, which has never affected me during spins, conscious to drink and eat regularly. I became stressed out over the numbers during winter, what way would I be if I attempted to race in the club league. I definitely would find it hard to do for fun, I simply feel, it isn’t worth it.The heir tells me I'm only a leisure cyclist, that I am but I am a happy one and I shall cycle by feeling. On reflection, I think the break from the bike did me the world of good, a bit of perspective, perhaps a little longer than planned but none the less mentally I am determined to be stronger than I was.  

As Nina Simone sings; Birds flyin’ high, you know how I feel. Sun in the sky, you know how I feel. Breeze driftin’ on by, you know how I feel. It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me. Yeah, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me, ooooooooh. I’m feelin’ good.

Club Spin on New Years Day

My first challenge will be We Ride Flanders – Ronde van Vlaanderen Cyclo which takes place on 31 March.
  Flanders the heart land of cycling and home to Ridley bikes. I have signed up for the 138km distance which starts and finishes in Oudenaarde. I know it’s going to be amazing, I’ve heard wonderful stories and I’m only focusing on the positives. If the weather is bad the cobbles will be slippery, so be it. If I must get off the bike I will as I plan to soak up the atmosphere, take pictures and ultimately just enjoy the whole experience. I’m thrilled that I’ve got a few cycling pals doing it also. The following day, I’ll get to see the pros in action, majorly excited about that.  

With my first spin of the year completed this morning I reflect on the year that was. We all know life can be short and what 2017 thought me is that in the blink of an eye it can be cruelly taken away. So, find your joie de vivre and when you do, spend time doing what makes you happy.