Cycling in a skirt

One life, some bicycles. A million possibilities, zero clue!

The Curse of the Armchair Athlete


It never fails to amaze me how the human body can produce so much snot.

And it keeps on coming, despite having already ejected a mini ocean’s worth, especially judging by the huge snow drift of tissues next to the sofa.

After spending much of my winter listening to colleagues cough and sneeze their way through the working day and then going home to family and friends doing the same I have finally succumbed to the inevitable. Woman-flu.

Obviously woman-flu is much gnarlier than the regular variety of common cold, involving much lolling on the sofa and looking pathetic whilst bemoaning the inability to ride my bike.

Having never been either a great patient or a tolerant one, especially if it involves a prolonged period of inactivity; as one week of snot and sore throat drags in to two and then three it would be fair to say that I am not the nicest person to be around.

Being sick, as well as being detrimental to fitness, also appears to be incredibly bad for my bank balance, after all, if I can’t actually cycle, I can at least trawl the internet for all those things that I need for my bikes. This explains the lumpy little padded envelopes from cycle retailers which are now plopping through my letterbox at regular intervals, forming piles alongside the tissue mountain.

Spending too much time on my laptop, looking at (and buying) all things bike, it was inevitable that the perfect storm of cold symptoms, boredom and spending would eventually lead to the contraction of a far worse ailment………………… a delusional and highly destructive state I’ve christened ‘Armchair Athlete-itis’. When this makes it in to Wikipedia the description will read as follows:

Armchair Athlete-itis

The state in which a person with more sporting ambition than talent convinces themselves they have the ability to complete great feats of athletic endurance after watching other people on TV.

This phenomenon then manifests through multiple sign-ups to races and/or sporting events far, far in excess of the individual’s ability (or awesomeness).

And I’m certainly not immune to armchair athlete-itis it seems. In fact, the combination of woman-flu, lack of activity, too much cough mixture and too many You Tube clips of the Giro d’Italia have combined to form a monster. My sojourn on the sofa (possibly aided by a slight fever) had convinced me that I was an awesome cyclist, one who was up there with the great riders of the day, one who could achieve anything.

Credit card in hand I started entering stuff.

It’s amazing how easy it is to convince oneself that 80+ miles is an easy distance to cover, especially when the hill profile looks like the ECG trace of someone in cardiac distress. From there, it’s even less of a delusional leap to think that you can do it, on not just one one day,  not two, but for 3 days in a row.

Emerging out of my flu-like fug I found it appeared I may have actually signed up for the Tour of Wessex, the biggest multi-stage cyclo-sportive in the UK; a 3 day cycle event held on some of the most beautiful and hilly countryside in the area.

The only saving grace at this point was that a fortuitous pinprick of sanity must have penetrated the darkness when I somehow steered clear of the entering for the longer route  – a leg-shredding average of 110 miles per day. However, I’m slowly becoming mindful that I now have a fully-paid-up-non-refundable event to train for and that it’s barely 3 months away.

This is in addition to several smaller (but no less challenging) preparation events to which my delusional booking spree had also extended.


Four weeks on from the start of woman-flu and it’s finally time to get back on my bike and more importantly to start of my training. The start of all the awesomeness I know I’m capable of…..

A few miles in and it turns out that, under the influence of armchair athlete-itis, I may have been a tad overly optimistic.

The cold air and freezing wind mean I’m wheezing away going along the flat when, nose streaming and eyes watering even a minor hill sets legs and lungs on fire I call it a day. It’s miserable and as I limp home after less than 15 miles to nurse my wounded pride and reflect on the wisdom of event entry under the influence of cough medicine.


My learning from this experience should be that, next time I have a cold, I must immediately disconnect the internet and hide my credit cards. Will I do that? Not a chance, because everyone needs a challenge right?

A week later and feeling better under a more benevolent sky, the road is finally rolling away more easily. I’m still quite a long way from the awesome of my armchair beliefs but at least I’m heading vaguely in the right direction and, with three months to go, anything can happen…………


Author: cycling in a skirt

A forty-something, journeying through life on two wheels. Possessor of limited common sense and practical ability, but full of a passion for adventure, life and bicycles. Writing about the highs and lows of cycling, cycle touring, skirts, silliness and the daily struggle not to grow up and be responsible.

4 thoughts on “The Curse of the Armchair Athlete

  1. I shall be more aware, thanks to your post, in the future. Thank you for the heads up!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Cake, cycle-couture and the art of suffering | Cycling in a skirt

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