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I am engaged in a newish hobby. In early 2018, my mate said, “Do you fancy coming on the Cheltenham Sportive with Mark Cavendish?”

I had no idea what a Sportive was, and (sorry) I had no idea who Mark Cavendish was. Turned out he is a Tour de France rider with a nice turn of speed. And a Sportive was an event where thousands of cyclists clogged up open roads and annoyed motorists. My mate went on.

“It’s £45, but if we book now it’s 10% off, so £4.50.” Note that at this point I had no bike, nor had I ridden one for quite a while.

“Go on then,” I said.

(In the event, Mark set off at the head of our peloton and we never saw him again until the end, when I had my picture taken with him. Which I will not reproduce here due to an unfortunate belly- gap in my Lycra.)

Cycling has since cost me about £3,000 in terms of bike, kit, other events and hotel stays, a near-death experience, neck- and bum-pain, hours of painful sweating – and a severe values problem.

I value my friends. I value health and fitness. I like spending time with my mates and I like feeling comfortable.

But, by heck, I find it really hard to cycle. I hate getting ready, I hate how much of the day it takes up when we ride 40+ miles. I’m not overly find of hills, particularly 1-in-14 slopes (‘That’s a cliff, mate’.) And now it’s winter (again), it’s even harder.

But I do it. I’ve committed to it, although it has become evident that I need a little bit more commitment if I am to find it less agonising – after the long rides, my day is gone because I have no strength available whatsoever to do anything meaningful.

I have to discipline myself so that, as Gary Keller and Jay Papasan say in their book, ‘The ONE Thing’, that discipline turns into habit, which is easier.

That’s a GREAT philosophy – applying discipline to something to the extent that it eventually becomes Habit. I write on this precise philosophy in my book ‘The Three Resolutions’, and support the idea that discipline gets easier as time passes. Which is why I bemoan the fact that I wasn’t told this when discipline was applied to me in HM Forces or the early Policing period. That imposed discipline, if accepted and applied, serves self-discipline, which in turn serves us.

And I am not talking about discipline applied to something you LOVE to do – that isn’t true discipline in the sense that you do something you otherwise would not do. True discipline means doing something you otherwise hate, because you know that doing so serves YOU.

And those you love, in terms of being a role-model of discipline to the degree that they don’t see it as (pause for Remembrance Day 2-minute silence*) discipline, just as ‘normal’.

So like many of you, I will do something (cycling) I am ‘not overly fond of’ because it shows respect for my friends, will (eventually) make me healthier and fitter, and gets me out of the house at least once a week.

What do you do, that you detest, that makes you better?


*Ironically, one of the ‘other events’ I mentioned was a cycling tour of WW1 battlefields and cemeteries. How coincidental I should write about this just as the world remembered the fallen.)