My Wife Shouldn’t Read This


30.08.18 at 9:00 am

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The loch swim last month seems to have (re?) awoken the athlete in me. Or perhaps the water was heavily polluted with a cocktail of hormone supplements fed to local livestock. Either way, I have felt super-human of late. That’s good news.

However, I’ve also been signing up to races as if my children have already left for university and 90% of my income is from royalties for a book (that I haven’t yet written).

There’s the brutal Two Breweries Hill Race in the borders and the Fife long distance coastal relay next month. I’ve also decided that a 12.5km loch swim would be a good idea next year.

If my wife is reading, she might want to stop now because there’s more.

I’ve also semi-committed to doing the North Coast 500 cycle in Scotland in 2019 with a friend. That’ll naturally require some sportive action in the interim. But before that I want to fit in an ultra-marathon and then a road marathon (in a bid to take the family PB). An aquathlon might not be a bad bet, too.

That might not seem much in the space of almost two years. But in a world centred on two young children (and I wouldn’t have it any other way), plus work, social life, being a husband and so forth, it’s not easy.

Indeed, only the coastal relay is on the kitchen calendar having gone through our internal clearing system three months ago. (And if my wife is still with us, I love you and the relevant paperwork for the other events will be in your inbox in the coming days.)

The other factor to throw in is the weather up here in Scotland: in a matter of weeks we will lose pretty much all daylight, so I need to get kitted up. This comes at a cost, of course. And if you thought my deliberations over trainers were excessive, choosing suitable swimwear for a winter in the pool or finding cycle gear that actually fits brings a whole new world of pain.

I have thighs like Beyonce and an upper body like Mr Burns. This leaves me with a choice: go for shorts that cut into my skin and jackets that sit just shy of my lowest rib; or move up a size and everything becomes baggy – fine if you are MC Hammer in the 80s but not so fine when you are in lycra and want to stay warm and aerodynamic.

Having recently rented a desk in a nearby town, I’ll also need bike lights, waterproofs that are “waterproof” and maybe some panniers to make the commute possible, not to mention comfortable. I also wondered if I should buy a new bike.

My hybrid is a beautiful, reliable old silver thing but that doesn’t mean a beautiful new lightweight thing should be ruled out. However, having last week ridden my wife’s bike back from work – an experience that was more Mary Poppins than Mikel Landa – I am content with what I’ve got.

“Did you know your back brake doesn’t work?” I said as soon as I came through the front door. “The seat wobbles from side to side and the panniers catch my ankle.” The mudguard had also fallen off, but I didn’t mention that.

She said, “you didn’t alter the seat height did you?”

As I wheeled her steed into the garage I admired my own, with its working brakes, fully adjustable (and secure) seat, and thought: “If it isn’t broke…” Well, at least until (serious) training starts for the North Coast 500.

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