SNOW seems to be this weeks hot bloggin’ topic but at this end of the UK we have had only the smallest amount. It seldom snows here and even when it does it never sticks for long (I guess it is all the salty ocean air!) The air temperature has also probably been a little more bearable than elsewhere in Britain – never really dropping below zero for too long! It’s not all sunshine and ice-creams though, as it has been beyond a little chilly. And again it’s all to do with that pesky ocean breeze. Brrrrr! The wind chill factor has made temperatures unbearable, and particularly uncomfortable to ride in.
After my first really unpleasant and soul-destroying ride last week in this weather (see previous post) I was despondent. The bitter wind had destroyed my lungs and psychologically drained me. So much so, that I couldn’t bring myself to get back outside again until I had another chance to ride with Mikey. There was no way I would be able to muster up the willpower to go out and ride in these conditions alone. So, instead, I forced myself to complete another session on the Turbo Trainer mid week, to ensure I would still be on track to meet my weekly target. Predictably it was dull and I struggled - the dent the last ride had made in my confidence was playing on my mind. I needed to get back out there and beat my demons! So on Sunday, as the South West Cross Season is over, I was able to convince Mikey that he wanted to take a spin around the local lanes with me.
I wrapped up well. In fact, the neighbours probably thought I had changed religion as by the time I had covered my ears and mouth with a combination of buffs, there was little left of my face on display! I didn’t care how I looked - I had to beat this stupid weather. I was determined; I couldn’t let the suffering of the last ride keep me from riding again.
The motivation didn’t last long after I struggled to make it to the top of the first hill – a short hill that hasn’t defeated me since the start of my bicycle rediscovery. Despite a fleece "snood" over my mouth, the air that was hitting my lungs was still bitter and almost instantaneously they shrank. Saying it was "painful" wouldn’t really be close to describing how I felt. For the first 6 miles I was in agony; every extremity, despite the thick clothing, was numb from a combination of the cold and the lack of Oxygen. For those first 6 miles I was close to tears and defeat. Somehow, I dug deep and found it in me to battle on – I think it was sheer stubbornness rather than determination. Oddly by 7 miles in, the pain had slightly subsided and my lungs were working vaguely more efficiently and I nearly enjoyed the next few miles. I say “nearly” enjoyed them – it’s all comparative. I hated the first 5 or so miles and was more than ready to throw my bike in the nearest ditch, so anything that was remotely more agreeable could be classed as “enjoyable”. I got back semi-satisfied. I had done my best! I had struggled on through the pain and the dire weather. I had added 10.5 road miles to my log.
Grrr! I wanted to be chuffed, but the pain of the first few miles was playing on my mind, I was deflated. One of the main reasons that I have started riding again was to try and improve the condition of my lungs. Since having pneumonia last year, my asthma had started to affect my general health. However in the last few months, as a result of my bicycle rediscovery, there were noticeable improvements and I think it was these that had lulled me into a false sense of achievement and made me have unrealistic expectations. I guess I still have a long way to go before I can be free from inhalers and steroids for good. But for now, I will just have to keep reminding myself of the initial improvements…. I shudder to think how ghastly my lungs would be without all these recent miles under my belt.