I cycled 100 miles in November in an attempt to up my cycling fitness for Ironman 70.3 next year. This was thanks to the motivation provided by the Stirling Triathlon Club November challenge.
Cycling is the only one of the three triathlon disciplines to have reduced me to tears but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Crying is a natural human response to pain and frustration and people do it more than we think. There is a release that comes from crying especially during intense physical challenges. After all we’ve all seen Andy Murray cry on television, one of the toughest and finest athletes Scotland has produced.
A friend of mine once said, “has it been a truly challenging cycle if you haven’t cried?” For me, cycling can be the most humbling triathlon discipline. The sheer distances involved, the hours in the saddle and the unpredictability of the weather and mechanicals can all lead to a struggle in your mind which leads to tears. A long 10 mile battle with a brutal headwind to home after hours on the road can forge a metal grit through tears and curses.
There’s yet another factor that has led me to tears on the bike – nutrition. Easy to get wrong when you’re inexperienced over longer distances. ‘The bonk’ or ‘hitting the wall’ are phrases used by cyclists to describe when you haven’t taken in enough carbs and have exhausted your body’s glycogen stores leaving you hypoglycaemic. The first symptom for me was feeling irrationally angry. I wanted to get off my bike and throw it against a wall. Then there was the onset of rapid muscle fatigue to the point where I ended up sitting on a curb crying in full public display. I just about made it home whilst hallucinating food. Maybe crying helped in the absence of Mars Bars.
There was no crying during my November miles. Perhaps I was eating right or perhaps I need to up my game.