Switching gears…

Until a month ago, my big personal fitness goal for 2020 was to do a 100km walk in the autumn – my third ultra-walk – and do it in less than 24 hours.

However, my plans have since changed and I have, instead, decided to embrace road cycling.

As a kid growing up in seaside Sussex, I loved my bike. My best mate, Lee, and I whizzed around town and ran our own time-trials around Hove Park. I routinely stripped my cycle down in my grandparents’ garage to respray and fettle it.

I also remember my Grandad taking me to the historic outdoor velodrome in Preston Park, which in those days was a little down-at-heel and mostly ignored.

In the subsequent 35 years or so, British cycling has undergone a renaissance on the streets and, competitively, on tracks and mountains across the world.

We are incredibly lucky to live close to the Lee Valley VeloPark, born from the Olympics on the Hackney-Stratford border, with its road circuit, banked indoor track, BMX and mountain bike centres, and studio classes.

It is the most amazing facility on our doorstep and a genuine piece of Olympic legacy, whether it is for adults getting fit and race ready, young stars starting a career, or little ones learning to ride at all.

Its website is very clunky but you can’t beat the place for value for money.

I was bought a membership for Christmas and found I loved going around the one-mile outdoor circuit, sometimes joined by my 17-year-old daughter.

This was a sign, I decided, that I should take up a challenge, so when a client started putting together a team to do June’s 100-mile Tour of Cambridgeshire, I signed up.

I am also waiting to see if I have a charity place for the Ride London in August.

This, of course, means I need to change my own training. Squats, lunges, glute work and core training are still vital, but, ultimately, there’s no substitute for hours in the saddle.

Fortunately, I have the VeloPark to train at, regardless of the weather. I am also hoping to join brilliant Clapton cycle shop Hub Velo’s club rides, though I need to have a crash course in proper use of gears before I venture out, I feel.

These hours on the bike will strengthen my legs and lungs, and, vitally, get me used to hours on a racing saddle – because it’s my backside that I think will potentially suffer the most in the next five months!

Roger Love is a personal trainer based in Netil House E8.



Images: Roger Love