Life is filled with certain milestones, some bigger than others. Numbers are all around us, some big and some small they can be life changing and eventful. Who doesn't remember their 18th birthday? Perhaps your grandparents 80th? Celebrating timelines is what the family photo album is all about.
Well, for me hitting the big 3-oh is certainly going to be a memorable milestone. I wish I was talking about my 30th birthday, but let's be honest that was over a decade ago!
No, I am talking my first 300km spin on my bike in one day.
Like most of my sporting achievements I never really set out to cycle a 300km audax. It just sort of happened. Before I knew it I had my butt on the saddle and the kilometers were rolling past.
I had never done an audax before. (This is a self guided cycle with control points. You get a little passport and have to get proof of visiting those locations. A shop receipt will do or a signature from a designated control officer). Luckily for me my self guided audax was in a group of 14. That's 13 men and me by the way! Token lady or Snow White as I dubbed.
So 300km in a day, that's leaving Dundrum in Dublin, out to Kildare, Portlaoise, over the Slieve Bloom mountains, down to Birr, up to Athlone, old Dublin road, Kinnegad, Maynooth, Celbridge and home. Phew!!
So how do you prepare for a 300km spin?
Well, ideally the few days leading up to it you would rest, eat healthy, mind yourself, prepare your bike and kit for the day.
I got most of that done except for the rest part. I teach Yoga and Pilates classes and stick my elbow into people all week. My job is physical.
A big plate of trusty spaghetti bolognaise down my neck, alarm clock set and a very disturbed sleep for fear of missing said alarm clock and you're all set to cycle 300km.
On the actual cycle there is no point thinking about 300km, because while the total kilometers for the day is a lot, best to break it down to manageable stages. We had designated food stops at regular intervals so they were my stages. Five in total which became six on the day due to an unscheduled but necessary extra fuel stop. Each stage would pass, at the end of these segments I would reboot. Fill up my water bottles, replenish my bike food and eat something fairly substantial. Draw a line under that spin and get ready for the next.
I enjoyed being the of the lads for the day. I am just as strong as many of them when it comes to cycling and my endurance and stamina certainly didn't let me down on the day. I managed to stay with the faster group when the group split and took my turn at the front as expected. Small and mighty. It's not that easy remaining feminine with oil marks on your legs, sweat dripping down your back and helmet hair but I tried.
Of course being the only lady on such a spin has some advantages and some very big disadvantages.
The biggest and nicest advantage is you feel special! Thirteen burly men and me how can you not feel a little special? At just five foot three and a tiny bike, I felt ladylike surrounded by so much testosterone.
I knew that if I got a puncture there was a very good chance I wouldn't have to lift a finger!
I didn't have to que for the ladies toilet.
There weren't any disadvantages to be honest being the only girl, expect a few service station loos which just weren't nice. That's when I wished I was boy, you know what I mean!
We left Dundrum at 6:15am and rolled back in some fourteen hours later at bang on 20:15. There was a little party for us, much to our delight. Beer and cake, the essentials of course. My seat was a little sore which was to be expected as was my left shoulder which always nags on long spins. My legs and the rest of me were fine though.
So the miles rolled by, the job got done. I genuinely enjoyed the day, Highs were seeing the view across the midlands of Ireland from the top of the Slieve Bloom mountains. No punctures. Having a great bunch of people to cycle with and good fun.
There were no lows to speak of. I did have a hard job sleeping that night, In fact I had motion sickness! Every time I closed my eyes I would feel like I was back on the bike. I had to sit up a few times, I wasn't sure if it was the same as sea sickness and wasn't taking any unnecessary chances. Of course adrenaline and cortisol in my body didn't help much either, neither did the bucket of caffeine shots I had taken during the day.
So I didn't sleep well, no big deal. I was tired the next day, in fact I was a zombie. I couldn't string a sentance together and it took me half an hour to empty my dishwasher. I didn't dare drive my car. My mum wasn't impressed by my achievements either, apparently "there is no need to cycle 300km, you're not able for it."
So on that note there is only one thing to do really, no not sell my bike, but start preparing for my BIG 4OH!!
If like me you're in need of break and some well earned relaxation, join me on my annual Yoga Spa Break Weekend. October 15th, 2016. Bloomfield House Hotel, Mullingar.
Just €120pps including 2 Yoga classes, Dinner, Bed and Breakfast.
About the Author:
Sinéad Kennedy is a Physical Therapist, Yoga Siromani and Pilates Instructor, based in South County Dublin. She treats and teaches people from all walks of life, including many athletes, especially cyclists, runners and golfers. Recently featured in the Irish Independant, FIT Magazine, her Yoga 4 Cyclists class has gained notoriety. A keen cyclist and proud member of Orwell Wheelers she has completed numerous cycling events including La Marmotte Sportive. Sinéad has also completed three Dublin City Marathons, numerous Adventure Races, Half Marathons and the Camino de Santiago.
Keen to spread the word on all things related to Wellness, Fitness, Coaching and Travel.