Sports editor gets taste of road cycling

SPORTS editor Graham Smyth gets a taste of road cycling this week, from Worksop racer Andy Bishop at Apple Fitness.

Here’s Graham’s latest blog as he attempts to get fit and reduce his wasitline.

Follow his progress on twitter at @GrahamSmyth or @Applegymworksop

I’VE never wondered what it might feel like to fly down Sparken Hill on a racing bike.

But now I know. It feels fantastic.

Partly free wheeling, partly pedalling, the wind blowing what little hair I have left, I was reminded of childhood experiences and wondered if I was breaking the 30mph speed limit.

I turned up to the gym on Wednesday primed and ready to go out on a run with Andy Bishop (triathlete, time trial cyclist, gentleman) but he had a surprise in store.

Admittedly my first thought when I saw the lightweight racing bike resting against the wall was: “I may never see my family again.”

Having not ridden on a bike, on the road, since I was a teenager, I had some reservations about spending my lunchbreak dodging the traffic around Worksop.

But when I started this fitness drive I made myself a promise that I would try each and every task put in front of me by the good people at Apple.

So I strapped on a helmet, wheeled the bike out onto Bridge Place and with Andy cycling behind me and calling out encouragement, set off towards Sparken Hill.

By the time we reached the bridge over the A57 I was warmed up, had gotten over the initial tension and wobbles that accompany your first experience of a racing bike.

Andy set me the challenge of three ‘hill sprints’.

The first ride up the hill was very tough as I tried to get to grips with the incline, the burning in my legs and taking a hand off the handlebars to change gears.

It took two minutes and 10 seconds to reach the finish line, and my heartrate moniter showed around 140bpm.

On the second climb I set off far too quickly, messed up the gear, had to fight hard not to let the bike come to a standstill and finished in a slower time than the first attempt.

By the time we had freewheeled down, at what felt like 50mph but was probably 30mph, I was determined to put in a better time on the final climb.

Pacing myself I managed to keep a little more in reserve for the brow of the hill, and came to the finish in one minute and 55 seconds.

With my heartrate over 170bpm, my lungs bursting and legs on fire, I was relieved when Andy said it was time to cycle back to the gym.

It was only as I neared Bridge Place that I realised how stiff my neck was from the position you have to adopt on a racing bike, but for the most part I was thrilled.

In the months I’ve spent at Apple doing all kinds of different training exercises and circuits, I’ve never been bored, but I’ve also never been as far out of my comfort zone as I was on Wednesday.

And it’s a good thing, a real highlight of this week’s workouts and a reminder of all the good things about cycling.

I’m not committing to the purchase of a bike, helmet and all the trappings, but I am considering the possibility of getting into it.

<Enter lazy, generic joke about becoming the next Brad Wiggins>

I have to say a massive thank you to Andy for going above and beyond for Wednesday’s training session. He could easily have written up a straightforward weights and cardio session.

This has been a good training week. Plenty of weights lifted, some cycling, rowing and another brush with the dreaded pack of cards (each suit having an exercise, card number corresponding to reps).

Feeling much healthier, in better shape than ever and still as addicted to the gym as in the first weeks of this fitness drive.

Roll on next week.