I have already spoken about my post-cycle routine in another blog post, or rather what my ideal post-cycling routine would be, but here I am going to discuss my pre-cycling routine which is perhaps even more of a ritual.
Let’s use a Saturday morning cycle as an example. The first part of the preparation actually starts the night before when I channel my high school geography knowledge and check the weather forecast. Is there a chance of rain (more than likely), will it rain the entire morning (possibly). Do two independent weather forecasts corroborate or do they disagree. If there is disagreement then a third party is sought to verify. If it looks likely that it is just going to torrentially rain the entire day then I will more often than not decide against a cycle. In my younger days, such inclement weather would not have fazed me but now I am much more of a fair-weather cyclist. Plus I have a turbo trainer for days like that.
Precipitation levels checked and by some miracle it looks relatively dry so next I check the wind direction. In general it will be a south-westerly wind but living on the coast can bring surprises that have to be accounted for. I recall one time I set out confident that I would be coming home in a tailwind only to find that the last ten miles were a block headwind. I cried as I watched my average speed that I had worked so hard for disintegrate and I vowed not to make the same mistake again.
There are great resources online that you can use to compute the best route for the prevailing wind conditions and I thoroughly recommend using them. They have saved my legs on many occasions.
Based on the weather I can now prepare my equipment. This decision is made easier by two things. First, what is clean and what is dirty? Second, if it is officially “British Summer Time” then only shorts are required and if you are too cold then pedal harder.
Clean clothes sorted, saddle bagged packed, Garmin and lights charging then it is time to quickly give the bike a once over. Is it clean? Stupid question, of course it is clean. My neighbours think when I am washing my car then it must mean that I am trying to sell it so sporadic is it done but the bike gets the opposite care and attention. It is even allowed to dry inside where it can also be admired.
Are the tires inflated to the desired pressure? Harder in summer, softer in winter (yes it is pretty scientific). Grab the water bottles to fill up and it is good to go.
The next step is absolutely vital to ensure a smooth start to the cycle and a stress free journey. I discuss in great detail with my partner my plans for the cycle and how long I will be and if that is acceptable to her plans. Luckily for me she is cool as F$%k when it comes to pretty much everything but nevertheless sometimes at this point the cycle has to be postponed until the next day or shifted in time by a few hours. Don’t worry I had prepared for this by reviewing the weather for the entire weekend ahead.
Cycling agreed and alarm set for the morning I now lie in bed and visualise my performance the next day on the bike. Actually I just catch up on the day’s news (i.e. Facebook) and then fall asleep.
The morning arrives and with it the realisation that all weather forecasters are liars. Oh well, everything is prepared so I better go out. Quick bowl of porridge and a strong coffee before getting into the lycra. Raid he cupboards for a tasty treat whilst out on the road more for morale than any sort of performance boost. In the time it takes to do this I would be hoping that the digestive system would have been startled awake and can handle a bowel movement. Regular cyclists will know this feeling. If the coffee doesn’t do the trick then putting on bib-shorts certainly will.
Shoes on, helmet on, glasses on (over helmet straps) and bike out the garage and waiting like a patient steed to be ridden. The road awaits, hills to be attacked and KOM’s to be won.