An occasional Pidcock: The guilt of choosing toy cars over the bike

It’s a random Sunday morning and I’ve woken up and checked the cycling news. Wout, Tom, Zoe…it’s inspiring. I spring out of bed…let’s do it!

I went to sleep the night before excited about the prospect of the ride. I even cleaned my bike the best I could, at night in the garden. I put my shoes by the front door and charged my lights. Hurrah for me being organised - my long suffering wife was relieved. I went to bed fully anticipating ‘Stage 324.2’ of losing weight and getting fit. I will be Tom Pidcock in the morning.

I slept soundly. 

Now - let me start that again with what really happened. 

It’s a cold, rainy Sunday morning, the electric blanket is on, there is a coffee waiting for me and a child asking me to play with toy cars. I look at the bike, I look at my organised shoes and I look at the rain. Before you know it, I am playing Hot Wheels racing in the living room and getting on a bike is the last thing I want to do. It’s 6.30am. But at least I won the car race.

Now at this point, the story could end here with a fry up. But it doesn’t, and the same goes for many people like me because this is only the beginning - this is when the guilt kicks in. At least I can console myself that I didn’t have a full English breakfast! 

Adam's challenge: to manage work, family and return to fitness

For the next 24 hours, I am constantly hit by the guilt of seeing cyclist after cyclist throughout the day - actually riding their bikes. Each one strikes a ‘dagger through my heart’, but I cannot escape the grim truth that I cannot do everything. And that is what I hope to write about here over the next few weeks, maybe months, in the hope of reassuring you that if you are experiencing similar feelings, you're not alone.

Cycling, like golf and cricket, takes a huge amount of time and effort to participate in. I have a young family who look forward to weekends and doing fun things and a four-hour bike ride is not ideal. The love of my sport brings a pressure into my life and it becomes something else to manage rather than an enjoyable hobby. It can also be rather expensive at times. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The moment I realised that I was a changed person, resulting in a lot less guilt. I could happily watch Discovery+ without experiencing it as a reminder of how I was not out on my own bike.

Over the next few articles I want to write about actually getting on a bike (or not as the case may be) and hopefully let people in the same position realise they are not alone. You can be a passionate cyclist and not have to go out on the 60km club ride every week.  You can channel your inner pro by picking up a bike and cycling for 30 minutes or an hour every week or month and yes, you can wear the gear. Who cares?

I work in professional cycling so spend most of my working life around fit, dedicated and extremely proficient cyclists. Many of my friends come from cycling and get out a lot more than I do but I do try and do something. I have been on a bike three times in the last four months - two of those were cyclocross races. And I can tell you there is nothing like a cyclocross race to give you a wake-up call, that you need to cycle more and get a lot fitter. So I have set myself a goal. 

The end game: to get back in shape, and back on the bike

I will share my journey, if you would like to read it, to achieve my nirvana of racing in the Herne Hill Velodrome Cyclocross Vets Summer Series - while losing a lot of weight in the process. It gives me something to work on and a story to tell my family when I am old(er). The challenge begins at the end of June - which gives me four months.

So if you are like me - a truly dedicated cyclist who gets a little confused on a Sunday morning, then please do follow this series, and join the discussion. I have absolutely no idea if I will lose weight, get out enough to race in the summer or win another Hot Wheels race. But I am going to try and do it honestly by sharing my experiences (although I might cheat at toy cars).

So when you next think about that cyclist riding past, all skinny, spotless and with a bike to die for - be happy they have the moment in their life to do it. And if you are watching from the roadside or car wash - realise you will have yours. Just not right now.

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