Yesterday, I went out for a ride. No surprises there. I'd planned three hours or so, fairly hard intensity. I'd got my Powertap wheel back, so it would be a good test of how well I was responding to all the riding. I also knew that the weather the next day was forecast to be bobbins - rain all morning, maybe easing in the afternoon. I had to get the hours in today.
As I left the house it was 9C or so, with a slight moistness in the air. Definitely not rain, and just on the edge of being drizzle. I had a route in mind - 85km - and was feeling pretty good.
A few minutes in I noticed a mild breeze, with the odd cheeky gust. Hmm. The moistness had turned to drizzle. As I had kneewarmers on, instead of tights, my shins were a little chilly.
Now my fingers were cold - my windproof gloves were letting in the drizzle too. Was that an ache in my knee? An occasional skipping of the chain?
I realised there was no way I'd make three hours - I was wussing out.
60km later I was on the last section of road back home, about 2km from the house. Something bright appeared to my left - could that be... the sun? Peeking through? Making an effort to show its face? Once I was in and stretching in front of the window the sun had defeated the nasty clouds. If I'd stayed out half an hour longer, not been a wimp, I'd have been stripping off the gilet and enjoying the early Spring warmth.
Then I understood. We'd had a very mild, dry winter. This had helped my train my cardio system, my muscles, my lactic clearance. What I'd neglected was that extra element that every endurance cyclist needs.
I'd failed to train my MTFU.
Fast forward to this morning. Pissing rain as forecast. 5C. And me, up at 7am. Gaggia on, double espresso produced. No pathetic Americano today. Two slices of toast. Dry. One 500ml bottle for the bike, plain water only.
8am, I stepped out of the house. Ah yes, real rain. And it had been raining for a while, there were some decent puddles around. The plan - ride to Lambourn and back, about 45km. Not too fast, I wanted to suffer in the weather. The road to Lambourn - the back road - is pitted, potholed, cracked, strewn with sunken grates and beautifully narrow. Every passing car, either from behind or headlong into me, would add to the MTFUness.
I was splashed, sprayed, shaken and stirred. I'd left off my eyewear as they tend to steam up so I had the added benefit of water battering into my eyeballs on the descents. My gloves started to fill up with rain. I rode through a foot-deep flood. My waterproof boots proved their effectiveness by keeping in all the water that had soaked into my tights and been sucked into my socks. Occasionally, I allowed myself a sip of water.
As I came back towards home I found I'd talked myself into doing more MTFU training. So I cut North, to add another half hour and a couple more hills to the ride. Finally arriving home I felt great. Admittedly I couldn't register my fingers or toes, I had trouble getting my gloves off and my keys out, and I had to wring out all my outer clothing before hanging it inside to dry. Still, I'd achieved what I'd planned to do, and some extra. I'd trained my attitude.
Last week, when it was dry and sunny I saw over twenty other cyclists on my Sunday ride. This week I saw... two. Both were grinning like loons.
MTFU training does that to you.