I’d like to begin this month by apologising to my regular followers, by whom I mean that select band of you who can stand to read more than one of my columns – as opposed to the guy in the raincoat who stalks me round the park when I’m out running in my alarming tri-shorts.
The reason for starting with an apology is that I want to discuss a topic I’ve covered before, namely warm-weather training. I’ve just come back from a week’s cycling in Majorca, which is a popular spring destination for vitamin D-deprived British cyclists emerging from their winter puddles. Before you reach the conclusion that repetition of subject matter means that I’ve run out of ideas faster than David Moyes, I’d like to point out two things:
Last time I talked about how to behave on a triathletes’ training camp, but I neglected that all important information about how triathletes should behave in the arcane and judgemental world of cycling training camps, among single-discipline athletes with absurdly large thighs and an Amsterdam-like tolerance to drugs.
Secondly, that in keeping with the tone of my columns it would be wrong of me not to gloat about spending a week cycling 550 miles in glorious sunshine while you were all draining rainwater out of your bottom brackets.
So, having just returned from the land of ‘café-con-leche-por-favor’, based on my own experiences I offer the following tips to any unwary triathletes out there who are thinking of going out pedalling with people who don’t also swim and run:
If you want a reliable indicator of your speed, forget recording your average mph, power output, wattage or any of that guff, simply try and beat a pensioner to the front of your hotel’s all-you-can-eat buffet queue. If you can, you’ll probably win Kona.
On arriving in your hotel room, do not poke part of your anatomy through the partition gap between your balcony and your mate’s next door, especially when you later learn your mate is actually two rooms away.
After a day’s riding, pounce on your dinner like a viper with anger-management issues and eat so much food that by the time you leave the table your stomach looks as if it were being viewed through a hotel door spy-hole.
During café stops, do not learn the simple Spanish words for ‘ham and cheese baguette’ and instead rely on shouting ‘Hamon and er, cheese?’ at the waiter while describing a baguette with hand gestures that look pervy.
When cycling towards a town sign which you suspect will end in a Tour-de-France style sprint for the line, it’s important that you move up the group and jockey for position without looking like you’re trying to – this is known as ‘tightening your toestraps’. If you must peer around the leading cyclist’s shoulder to judge the distance until your moment of attack, do so as surreptitiously as possible so that if you miss the gallop or lose the sprint you can claim you ‘weren’t really going for that one’.
Take at least one foreign cycling jersey with you to confuse other cyclists about what language they should address you in. This can lead to especially amusing conversations with Brits who’ll talk to you in loud, animated Pidgin English.
When waiting to head out on your daily ride with hundreds of other cyclists outside your hotel, adopt a casual pose of perching your bumcrack on your bike’s top tube, even though after 80 miles the previous day your backside is redder than Alex Ferguson’s face.
When being moaned at by a fellow passenger in the airport check-in queue who says ‘bike boxes shouldn’t be allowed in front of normal suitcases’ don’t reply by saying, ‘I feel a bit like Jay-Z, except I’ve got 100 problems’ – they won’t get it.
Ensure that after every ride you head straight for the hotel pool and flop down next to some sunbathers even though you smell like you’ve been up all night eating cheese, then cool your legs by wading waist deep into the freezing water while uttering loud obscenities.
Take your turn at the front, never wear a cycling cap without a helmet, keep your keys, money and phone in an old sandwich bag, don’t half-wheel anyone, never talk about running and if you don’t return from the ride looking like someone at the top of a donor list, you haven’t tried hard enough.
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