Sport

A week in the life of an Oxford Uni cyclist

It’s been said that Oxford will give you one of three things – a first, a blue, or a spouse. Now, whilst I’m not entirely sold on the truth of this, undeniably, balancing anything with the frankly monstrous workload set by our tutors is a challenge. Nevertheless, for those of us immersed in the cult word of university-level sport, such a balance has to be found. After all, how else can we make sure the tabs get their just desserts? With this in mind, I’ve set out to present my weekly timetable to reveal how I balance my training as a wannabe-blues cyclist with my degree.

Monday:

I get a nice leisurely start on Monday. Monday’s actually one of my favourite days of the week because training isn’t until 6pm. Generally speaking, I’ll use days like these to get a solid amount of work done before training, so I can relax when I get back to college. I tend to be at the Bod for opening time (9am) and I’ll generally stick around there until about 5:00pm. Then it’s back to St Hugh’s, before I head to the Uni sports centre at Iffley. Monday is always an hour of strength and conditioning training, which essentially ends up being a demonstration of which cyclist actually has the least upper-body strength. Sometimes we head to The Oxford Blue, the pub across the road from Iffley, rather than the paper, for 2-for-1 pizzas and a pint (depending on the training session the next day). Then it’s back to college, a game of pool and bed by roughly 11:30pm.

Tuesday:

Tuesdays tend to be much the same as Mondays, with training starting at 5:30pm this evening. Once again, I’ll usually try to be at the Bod for 9am, so 7:30am alarms are a fact of life unfortunately. Leaving the Bod by 4:30pm, I’ll dash back to college, get changed, grab my race bike, and cycle to Iffley. Today is always a ‘turbo’ session, which is best described as form of mild sadomasochism. Essentially, the bike is attached to a fixed frame, allowing you to train in a controlled environment with a focus on training metrics, and not on the tipper truck that’s about to crush you at the next roundabout. The training today usually lasts between an hour and an hour and a half, depending on what our coach has set us. It hurts, and going nowhere can be quite demoralising, but it gets the job done. Post-turbo, it’s a ride back to Hugh’s, dinner, and time to relax, before a relatively early bedtime ready for early-morning training tomorrow.

Wednesday:

Turbos again today, but this time in the morning. I’ll generally aim to be at Iffley any-time between 6:30 and 7am, so that I can get the session done and still be ready to work by about 9:30am. I’ll usually hold-off on breakfast until after training, else I might see my porridge more times than I bargained for. After training, it’s back to the books. That’s really the key to uni sport. You learn how to fit an extraordinary number of tasks into a single day, just because you have to. It does wonders for your time management.

Thursday:

Much the same fare as Wednesday here. Iffley by 6:30am, more turbos, and then on to work. There’s often a nice sense of achievement after Thursday morning, as it’s the last turbo session of the week. The thought of four days off is always a comforting one.

Friday:

Rest day! Friday is often just a time for relaxation. I’ll generally get up a bit later than usual, have a more relaxed breakfast, and then get working by about 10am. Today’s the best time to catch-up on any work I’ve fallen behind on due to training in the week, or to pre-empt the work I need to do over the coming weekend, as we’ve got two big days coming up. I’ll quite often spend some more time relaxing with friends today as well – uni sport and all the time spent training could quite easily isolate you from your college circles if you didn’t make an effort to socialise.

Saturday:

Big day one of two. The weekend’s when we head out as a squad into the lanes of Oxfordshire and the surrounding counties, starting at 8am from Trinity Gates on Broad Street. It’s actually really refreshing to get out of the ‘bubble’ of the city twice a week. Oxfordshire is a beautiful place and I think as students we don’t often realise it amongst the essay deadlines and all-nighters. Generally, on a Saturday we’ll ride anywhere from 90km to 120km, out towards the Cotswolds, Chilterns or maybe east towards Thame. Depending on the session, we’ll sometimes stop for a coffee somewhere along the way too, which is a nice break and a good chance to explore the local coffee shops around the county, supporting local businesses along the way. Once we’re back (usually between 11 and midday), I’m straight back to the library. For a history degree, time spent reading is crucial. If you don’t read enough, you can be sure your tutor will pick you up on it in the next tute. Whilst the weekend rides are really refreshing, they do take up a morning, so the afternoon is generally quite intense to make sure that the work gets done.

Sunday:

The second big day of the week. Again, we’ll head out into Oxfordshire and beyond today, although usually in a different direction to the Saturday ride. They do say variety is the spice of life, after all. Sunday’s are often a little more relaxed than the Saturday ride, and we’ll almost certainly grab a coffee and a cake somewhere, especially if we chose to ride straight through the day before. Then, its back to work, relaxation, and bed, before the cycle starts over again the next day.