As any cyclist with even a small amount of cunning knows, when asked whether you’ve been getting out much on the bike the default answer, without missing a beat, is “nah, hardly been out at all.”
If you’re honest and say, “yeah, been managing a hundred miles a week” then you’ve nowhere left to hide; if you’re still slow after all this training, you are clearly a fundamentally untalented bike rider who should give up the sport immediately.
The key on the bike, as in life, is under-promise and over-deliver.
The only way to get one up on the competition is to engage in a bit of stealth training.
This means getting out and riding when you know that no-one with any sense will be.
This is extra mileage on top of the extra mileage that you’re not letting on about; stealth mileage, if you like.
Picture a cold Tuesday night in November.
The temperature is about 2 degrees, it’s dark, windy, and raining; only someone engaging in stealth training will be out in this.
If you do find the motivation to get beyond your back gate and clock up some miles you are sure to reap the rewards.
The problem comes when you are out riding in these unforgiving conditions and you meet your mate doing the same, who can only be stealth training too.
The only option is to chat breezily with each other as if nothing untoward was going on, make no mention of what you are each doing, and never speak of your joint stealth session to others.
You are now brothers in arms and have a shared dark secret which, were it revealed, would explain your surprisingly perky form come next spring as something other than natural talent.
The main problem with stealth training is that everyone’s at it. Get too involved and you start to yearn for evenings of the filthiest winter weather that, by demanding a masochistic level of commitment, will naturally weed out all but the most committed of stealth trainers, and leave you with some kind of advantage (however small).
Of course, the other alternative is just to not get into it, behave like a normal human being, and spend those dark winter evenings doing something far more pleasurable instead.