Ch-chunk. Ch-chunk. The sound of shoes of clipping into pedals. The sound echoing round a cold dusty garage. The sound of pre-season training.
One foot clipped in, swing the other over the saddle, sit down, deep breath, right we’re ready to go.
The best part of the ‘season’ has finished: that golden period after the traditional month off, from November to December, when you can just enjoy riding the bike, turning the pedals over, has finished. Jokes and banter are exchanged, missed chances from the season passed are reminisced about and plans for the season ahead are made.
Now we are in the New Year though. There’s no excuse. Whereas before Christmas one could explain away any lack of form “there’s no need to press on, it’s December” “don’t want to be a winter racer” now one can’t get away with the same lines. It’s now only a matter of weeks until the first few races.
As if it has suddenly sprung upon us, now is the time to re-visit those much maligned and greatly hated interval sessions that haven’t been on the radar for several months. The legs feel like they are lanced by knitting needles, the lungs feel stung by carcinogenic air: these numbers can’t be right, there’s no way I was hitting these numbers last year.
Bit by bit though it starts to come back.
What is “it”? That intangible feeling of form and fitness. Slowly through the dark, cold weeks of January and February we transform ourselves from enthusiastic and keen riders of bikes to “racers”. It is a horrible, unpleasant process. At a time of year when most people are taking things steady, breaking themselves into the demands of the new year step by step, we are pushing our bodies harder than we have done for the last few months, simultaneously trying to reduce our calorific intake to compensate for the excesses of the Christmas period, and prepare ourselves mentally for the impending season.
Pre-season? It’s horrible, but this is where the foundations are laid, let’s hope those foundations are solid and not built on shifting sands.
Bring on the new season.