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  • Writer's pictureStars and Spokes

The Christmas Conundrum. Pros and Cons.

Pascal here, with an overview of the conundrum. Christmas is one of the few times of the year the military guarantees time off from work, with a view to ensuring personnel get some much needed down time with family. It is therefore also a great time to plan in some longer rides, as both of us know it’s unlikely work will come calling, even in these super busy times of COVID-19 tasking – something the military has been heavily involved in throughout 2020.

Hanging out at the Christmas Tree zoo.....

What should a pair of endurance cyclists in training do, get some long rides in or solely hang out with loved ones…? In such situations, the best option is to write out a list of pros and cons, the answer always (sometimes) then drops out naturally. Here’s hoping. In the spirit of positivity, we will start with the pros column, reasons why the Christmas break should be used for long bike rides.

Pros for Christmas rides:

  • There are only so many hours you can stay indoors and listen to that Mariah Carey sing ‘All I want for Christmas is you’, before wanting to irrationally smash up your own radio.

  • We can pretend that we are ‘carb loading’ by eating ALL of the Yorkshire puddings, pigs in blankets, cheese boards, turkey, chocolate, port, Quality Street, parsnips, roast potatoes and pudding(s). And yes, we appreciate that most of these don’t even fall into the carbs category, but let’s not be picky!

  • It gives us the opportunity to irresponsibly load up any nearby children with sugar before swiftly departing the house, leaving others to deal with the resultant sugar fuelled, hyped up mini-human maniacs! Win. They will be lovely and calm by the time we get back. Double win.

  • It gives us a rare chance to actually achieve the 100s of weekly miles required, as per the detailed training programme written by our expedition physical trainer (Tim). This in turn sees us momentarily return to his ‘good books’, temporarily removing our constant fear of having him calling us to check in on our progress. These calls inevitably end in us being told off for skipping a session….

  • Riding a Christmas 100 miler definitely justifies multiple glasses of port / wine / prosecco/ sherry (one for the old folk!) / beer / tequila (too far?) / rum / mulled wine. Delete as required, or don’t, as you might see fit.

  • It makes us feel like professional athletes, so dedicated to our cause that not even the imminent arrival of Santa will disrupt our precision training schedule. In reality, we just want to escape the growing sense of cabin fever.

  • Few things beat pedalling around on a crisp winter day; cycling about under big blue skies and past frost filled fields is good for the soul.

  • The other option is to cycle indoors on a turbo trainer, quite possibly the most soul-destroying way to spend 7 hours – you don’t go anywhere, nor do you see any trees. And we both love trees!

  • We actually love getting out and about on our bikes, they are fantastic machines of discovery.

Cons for Christmas rides:

  • It is warm indoors, and cold outdoors. During any rides, we will inevitably spend 7 hours without being able to feel our hands or feet.

  • During December, there is about 45 mins of daylight daily. We always forget to charge our lights fully pre-ride, and then end up narrowly avoiding ‘death by car’ as we zoom about country lanes inadvertently in stealth mode!

  • Looking back at your child waving at you from the window, dressed as a tinsel clad reindeer and looking very huggable, makes you feel like an awful parent. It’s fine though, the feeling isn’t alien to either of us, and soon passes! (for the record, we adore our children, they are all total legends! ish)

  • We then have to clean our bikes, and nobody enjoys cleaning their bike. Fact.

Looking at the lists, it would seem that the pros have it! Honestly, there is no way we could stay cooped up indoors for days on end, at any time of the year. You enjoy the indoors bits even more when you’ve balanced it with a bit of outdoors time, we humans are just designed that way.

The bottom line, literally, is that with 7 months to go before we fly out to San Diego, we simply can’t afford to not get the Christmas miles in. Best we get our lights charged…

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