Chimp versus Strava

Pretty much each time I have finished my ride I like to scroll through my Strava segment summary and look for highlights in the ride. Now let’s make it clear right from the off that I’m not one of those KOM guys, far from it. In fact, I consider anything remotely close to the top 10% on Strava overall as a great effort and my real KOM equivalent would be fastest out of the short list of local friends I follow.

So when I have surprised myself and put in a significantly quick time on a well worn segment of mine I suddenly become alert and excited about the real talent that could lie within me. It’s at this point my mind races to what my screen would look like if I just did more training. What if I actually applied some of the extensive nutrition advice I have picked up from every cycling magazine going, rather than save it up to dish out freely to others as I do now. I would be lighter, stronger, faster and more meaner. Yeah – I like that idea.

Enter The Chimp

It’s these thoughts that resurrect themselves as I enter into the buffet area of a hotel for breakfast. The athletes perfect start to the day awaits me as I salivate over the fresh fruit platter of melon, grapefruit, yoghurt and berries. I’m spoilt for choice at the cereal bar and could have any mix of nuts, muesli, porridge that is known to mankind. And then I see those shiny round pots lined up together, neatly accompanied by a delicate white plate presenting you with tongues and serving spoons the size that only American dinners would really fill. Despite not even being able to view the contents, my mind starts the now traditional battle with my stomach for supremacy as the “you don’t really need that” and the “yes but how often do you get a full English” conversation commences. 


Cycling magazines have also taught me about Dr Stephen Peters and his work with the Sky team on managing their “chimp” and I understand this pretty well. At this point my chimp is now swinging on my arm dragging me towards dish number 1 with the neat little folded label in front of it delicately declaring the contents as bacon. My now weakening human brain is pushing hard on my heels to turn back towards the muesli bar and for a moment it wins the battle as I turn and walk towards the small white empty bowls. I’ve done it – I’ve won, I’ve even picked one up and have just to choose the whether I create my own mixed fruit platter or simply opt for the ready prepared one next to the huge bowl of soft cheese. 

And then from out of nowhere leaps Cheetah, the giant chimp from Tarzan, who punches me in the face, throws down the bowl and drags me not even begging and screaming to the huge simmering bowl of creamy scrambled egg and it’s all over.

There lies my problem. My constant paradox is that I love cycling, I love looking good on the bike, believing I am achieving something and even taking the higher ground in a world full of a growing number of coach potatoes. But I just can’t find the true dedication to make it work for me full time. To be that guy that compares his body fat with those whom he watches race on the television or the one that measures his bike ride in watts. I love cycling because it’s fun. The people who I ride with are funny people and the cake, coffees and even the bacon rolls are for me guilt free experiences that I genuinely look forward to sometimes for days before I know they are happening.

So For Now

As much as I love seeing those little letters PR against my Strava segments, and I will and do genuinely want to be a better cyclist, I will first ensure that I remember why I took it up in the first place and that was so that I could enjoy all aspects of my life and not to replace them with it.

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