Fitness Big Year: Joy can surprise you

Cycling, the new challenge, as well as the old mainstays, the jogging and the gym weights, have all tested me this year. Minor niggles, unexpected setbacks, receding goals . . . This week saw me tackling my new weekly cycling target of 110 kms for the second week in a row, and yesterday I set off on my regular week’s longest exercising stint, 50 kms in over three hours.

Rain had been and rain was forecast, but the skies were clear, and I was hopeful. A neophyte, I’d never taken the bike through wet weather, and to be honest, I was apprehensive, so my thinking was that if luck was with me, the clouds would stay light-coloured. An hour in, the fluffy variety left, dark skyborne beasts flew in, and suddenly the sky erupted into a violent storm. Suddenly I had no choice. Wet I’d get and wet I’d be, so I put my head down, tried to maintain visibility and took a slower pace through the trails of Melbourne. Rain lashed. Rivers flowed down the tracks. One of my under-bridge routes can be seen to be washed out.

Here’s what surprised me. In the moment, coping as best I could, and determined to log 50 kms onto Strava (let’s be clear, the Big Year demanded that), all my exercising grizzles vanished. I was fully absorbed, bleached of mental struggles. I just kept on. A tyre punctured. I recovered. Arriving home wet through and covered in trailside grit, even more weary than usual, I grinned with pleasure. This Big Year works!

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