Tag Archives: Tour De France

The difficulties of dressing like a professional grown-up.

I’ve ceased caring about the clothes I put on in the morning. Those of you who know me well, or have ever worked with me, will probably think that not much has changed, as I’m a scruff bag at the best of times. But the bar has been lowered. I’m just too tired in the mornings at the moment to give a monkey’s monocle. I will, from now on, be dressing like a total tramp, if that’s the outfit that happens to fall together at 8.15am. (And I use the terminology ‘outfit’ very, very loosely.) I’m just so damn shattered every morning at the moment. It doesn’t help that the clocks went forward this week; great news for after-work training as it stays light. Terrible news for getting out of bed at 5am. I was starting to enjoy the daylight. For now, it’s back to pitch black, freezing cold rides. But I digress, as usual – the point is, I’m so worn out that I would actually prefer just to stay in my pyjamas all the time. Actually, it would make more sense for me just to stay in lycra all the time, you know, to cut out the middle-man (the middle-man in this instance being acceptable work attire).

I can’t say I know how this will progress; never having been known for my notable sense of style (“oh my, isn’t it remarkable how she so elegantly combines four-year-old-dirty-white Chuck Taylors with grey skinny jeans and a bland daily selection of Cotton-On/Primark t-shirt and cardigan variables?”) I was already scraping the barrel of acceptable workplace self-presentation. But now that I am searching through my drawers and wardrobe through a triathlon-haze, I could be pulling on any old crap. I may, or may not, have worn the same clothes three days in a row. I couldn’t tell you.

Speaking of the aforementioned jeans, I have noticed that the ham-legs are on the increase, and that the jeans are getting bigger, and smaller at the same time. They are strangely gaping at the waist and hips, yet turning into my very own ready-to-wear compression leggings around the thigh and calf zones. I’m stuffed if I’m busting for a pee, as it takes me a considerable amount of time to peel them down to the knee. I watched an episode of Rick Stein in Spain yesterday, and he was doing a segment inside a Serrano ham farm. Hanging from the ceiling, every one of those exquisite acorn Iberico jamons reminded me of the Christmas hams developing beneath my too-small-too-big compression jeans. I’m convinced I will start waddling soon. And then everyone at work will start calling me ‘waddling tramp-girl’.

So what’s driving this massive rise in thigh-circumfrence, you might well ask? (note for editors: I didn’t know where that question mark should go, so I just chucked it on the end, lazily.) I believe it’s down to a couple of weeks of mega-cycling, including the introduction of SPINERVALS.

Now let me tell you about SPINERVALS: led by coach Troy Jacobson (total hero), first you travel back in time to circa 1992, and put on your neon lycra, sweatbands and some radical Oakely shades (actually, who am I trying to kid? That’s what cyclist’s still look like 20 years on. We will never lose the neon lycra). Then you put your legs through hell for 45 minutes, with Troy leading intervals that take you up imaginary mountains, through imaginary time trials and end with imaginary Tour de France sprint finishes. I thought I was super-tough to complete one class. Until it was pointed out to me that I had only completed Level 1, and to wait until I got to level 10…

I think I have become obsessed with the imagery of ham-legs since I started reading Vélo by Paul Fournel; a thirtieth birthday present, this book has got me obsessed. I can’t put it down (which is adding to the accumulation of fatigue as I keep trying to stay up as late as possible to read). Let me share with you my favourite so far, from the essay ‘Legs’:

At the hight of the season, it’s difficult to forget your legs. They are the sight of curious physiological phenomena. The most surprising is ‘big thighs’. Having accumulated I don’t know what kind of fatigue, the thighs swell up and get firmer. They don’t fit into your shorts any more, or your trousers, and you find yourself burdened with two ham-like thighs whose cycling worth is relative, at least for a few days.

An extract from Velo by Paul Fournel (Legs, p50). Awesome illustrations by Jo Burt. I just wish my knees were this tiny. Yes, tiny knees would make the thighs acceptable.

For someone who loves riding, loves writing and loves illustration, this book is a hat-trick of happiness. (Big thanks for the birthday present kids!)

Also, more birthday present thanks, as today I also got a new pair of trainers/runners (depending on your hemisphere) which is potentially the most exciting thing that can happen to a runner. This is all due to a very generous Wiggle voucher (another big thanks to the gang for the birthday pressie! I guess turning FIRDY wasn’t so bad after all!). I have been exceptionally adventurous and bought exactly the same pair of K-Swiss Kwicky Blade Lights, but this time not in yellow. Nope, I’ve made a big leap to blue.  I’ll let you know if they make me go any faster…

Finally, tomorrow I am going to be baking banana bread for our ride at the weekend (actually, this will more likely be Jarrod as he is a way better cook than me…), and also testing out some beetroot juice due to a tip-off from an old friend this week – I’m told it’s like Mother Nature’s equivalent to blood doping and the latest research indicates it’s like magical uber-goodness when it comes to transporting oxygen around your body. I’m just hoping that if I drink enough it will make me turn purple. After all, purple is in this season*, so it might be my only chance to ‘get the look’ and increase my stylish rating from nil to maybe two.

*I have no idea what is ‘in’ this season, or any season.

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