Making Molehills out of Mountains: John Starts Cycle Training

Friday, February 27, 2015

The first half of my year is defined by one thing: the Maratona dles Dolomites.

It’s one of the biggest cycling events in the world, with thousands of amateurs and professionals gathering in Italy every year to push themselves through sweat and agony against the beautiful backdrop of the Dolomites.

I’ve started the long process of physically and mentally training myself so that on the morning of July 3rd, I can look up at the mountains confident that they won’t keep me from the finish line.

My time living in the endless flats of Belgium gave me an intense appetite for mountain cycling. Smooth roads can’t compare to the exciting rhythm of arduous climbs rewarded by exhilarating descents, each peak providing a fresh challenge.

The Maratona dles Dolomites offers nine of those peaks over almost 150km.

It’s addicting to see how far I can push myself, extending the point of exhaustion a little forward every time I train. Anticipation and apprehension accompanies me throughout, with photographs of the imposing Dolomites hanging on my office wall a daily reminder of what I will face in July.

Those mountains may be intimidating but after seeing everyone from 90 year olds to veteran amputees cycling alongside me, I know I have no excuse. Should the day come when I can no longer cycle, I don’t want to look back and feel I wasted my good health.

It may seem like madness to add more pressures on top of running the practice and supporting a family but the cycling manages to detract from my burdens rather than add. Short of having an injury, this is a challenge and an eventual success of which I am entirely in control.

There’s a clarity to your thoughts when cycling. Your body is occupied but your mind is free to wander and take in the scenery, its worries over life’s daily stresses replaced with how to climb the next peak.

By the time I dismount, I often find I’ve cleared a checklist of personal and professional worries that have been clogging my mind.

It’s far more than a just personal endeavour as well. I cycle with a team of close friends, creating an atmosphere of camaraderie and friendly competition that supports all of us throughout the training and the sportive itself. We’re all trying to get ahead of each other while helping anyone who falls behind.

Men have a bad habit of being unable to talk without arranging an excuse to do so. By dedicating to our training, my friends and I have a precious couple of hours where there’s nothing to do but chat and pedal. They’re all as busy as I am or more, so opportunities to keep our bonds strong are incredibly valuable.

There’s a lot of cold mornings and aching limbs to go but it’s all worth it for the moment when I get to look back over those nine mountains and know I overcame every one.

Entry for this year’s Maratona dles Dolomites has closed but you can click here to read more about the event. I’ll be putting out an update on the training closer to the day and hopefully I’ll see you at the starting line in 2016.

By John Dyer-Grimes