Lifestyle Health

Tuesday 12 December 2017

This tortoise has a plan to catch the hare

Tortoise and Hare Story Alternative Version
Tortoise and Hare Story Alternative Version

Breifne Earley

It's funny where we can get inspiration from at times. Some people read books, watch movies, listen to inspirational music. For me, Who Dares Wins by Gerry Duffy, Any Given Sunday with Al Pacino and the soundtrack to cycling movie Chasing Legends would be top of those lists.

But this week was different. This week, I found my extra push from one of Aesop's fables, namely The Tortoise and the Hare.

On training spins I still take some satisfaction in picking out another cyclist in the distance and, like a fish on a line, reeling in the distance between us before casually passing them out. Occasionally I'm on the receiving end of the experience.

This scenario played out recently when I was passed by a fellow rider and it wasn't too long before he disappeared into the distance. It made me question my sanity and whether I was fooling myself about my chances of actually competing in the race around the planet against people with years of experience.

The reason the previously mentioned fable is in my thoughts is that I'm placing myself firmly in the role of the tortoise against half a dozen hairs in an 18,000 mile cycle. I'm certain my average speed will be slower than virtually everyone in the race. This means that I'm going to have to spend a lot longer in the saddle every day in order to compete.

The first bit of good news is that the route I have chosen has a very small number of climbs. In fact 85pc of the planned days of 300k have less hills than a single ride from my front door to the Sally Gap in the Dublin mountains.

The second positive is that, at the same time as shedding weight, I'm getting stronger. With my current training plan, which is in place with NADA, I'm confident this will continue.

Finally, the best news of all is that the difference in speed of each athlete in the race is hardly news to me.

My initial plans were geared towards spending 15 hours a day in the saddle. The plans haven't changed, but my ability to spend half a day or more in the saddle has progressed to where it feels normal.

The latest addition to my regime is altitude training. During the cycle, I will be exposed to a number of mountain ranges.

To help me prepare for this, I have been working with fellow Leitrim man and London Olympian Colin Griffin and his new venture, the Altitude Centre.

With the aid of a hypoxic machine and a mask they artificially reduce the level of oxygen during my training sessions, simulating the experience of cycling at altitude.

I found my initial session tough but, with more sessions planned over the coming weeks, I'm certain big improvements will be seen when I report back for my final VO2 Max test at the end of this month.

As it's getting closer to the start of the World Cycle Race on March 1, there will be a send-off cycle on the weekend of February 21-23. Details at

Breifne will take part in the World Cycle Race in March, in which he hopes to break the current record for cycling around the planet.

Irish Independent

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