Journals Riders

Joe Laverick journal: a cyclist’s psychology – getting sick

Rider journals 2020: Joe Laverick #06

Joe Laverick and five other cyclists are keeping rider journals for The British Continental this season. Based in France for 2020 and supported by the Rayner Foundation, Joe rides for Chambéry CF, AG2R La Mondiale’s development team. This is his sixth journal entry

There’s the irrational fear that you’ll be left behind, that one bout of illness means the end of your career

An ill bike rider is a grumpy bike rider. There’s no two ways about it. We’re freaks when it comes to getting ill; there are a lot of hypochondriacs in the bunch.

I’ve been ‘inspired’ to write this as I’ve recently enjoyed a bout of illness myself. Without going into detail, I’ll just say the toilet became my #1 choice of seat in the house for a 72-hour period.

We’re in the middle of a global pandemic, racing is still months away, and we’re on lockdown. Surely, the perfect time to get sick? To be honest, the stress is with me all the same. I’ve yet to meet a cyclist who doesn’t get stressed when they’re ill.

Photo: Joe Laverick

All of a sudden, social media becomes the most toxic place in the land. You find yourself hating everyone posting about cycling, aka ‘my whole timeline’. I never check Strava when I’m healthy, the second I’m sick it’s the most visited app on my phone. There’s the irrational fear that you’ll be left behind, that one bout of illness means the end of your career.

Of course, this isn’t true. We’re drama queens. I was ill over New Year, all but rendering my trip to Tenerife useless. I was grumpy as can be, yet I was in one of the most beautiful places in the world. It was 20°C and all I could do was lay on a sunbed overlooking the ocean. Such a hardship. Two months later, I was flying on training camp, the week off in January all but forgotten.

I found myself wondering if it’d be possible to maintain my new-found weight once I was back training

I weighed myself every day after getting ill. Ever the bike rider, I found myself wondering if it’d be possible to maintain my new-found weight once I was back training. I was 66kg the day before I got ill, three days later I was 63.8kg. A couple more days, I thought, and I’ll be the weight of a Colombian climber but with the same FTP of someone who is 6kg heavier. That’s how it works, right?

Photo: Joe Laverick

With illness often comes taking some medication to get better. I wouldn’t say it keeps me up at night, but it’s every athlete’s worst nightmare to take something and have an accidental positive. Every single thing that I put in my body is to be checked on the Global DRO. The joys of searching the DRO at 2 am before I can take Imodium. If it’s not on the DRO, it doesn’t go into my body, it really is that simple.

The TrainingPeaks CTL [Ed – a ‘current fitness’ score] starts dropping like a stone and you start questioning if you’ll ever be able to ride your bike again. A complete over-reaction of course, but we’re bike riders, that’s what we do best.

Featured photo: Joe Laverick

Find out more

Joe Laverick journal: fixing cycling’s business model

Joe Laverick journal: life comes at you fast

Joe Laverick journal: first race butterflies

Joe Laverick journal: nouveaux départs

Joe Laverick journal: excited, scared and nervous

Rider journals 2020: introducing Joe Laverick

U23 rider to watch: Joe Laverick interview

Joe on Twitter

Joe on Instagram

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