Cycle ride in numbers:
Time: 4 hrs 02 minutes
Average speed: 15.2 mph
Snotty cyclists: 0
Chatty friendly cyclists: 2
Food eaten en-route: 0
After last week’s amble around the Luton CC Reliability course, which included a couple of short-cuts, I thought I’d have another go on my own. Things were certainly looking up with near-perfect weather and the map in my pocket. Suffice to say expectations were running high.
I cycled over to the (then) start at Edlesborough and then carried on the course. Before last week I hadn’t actually cycled on some of those little roads, even though I knew they were there. It all seemed very familiar in terms of the surroundings but strange not being surrounded by so many other cyclists for the first few miles.
From Eldlesborough the route goes through Slapton, over the Grand Union Canal and up to Ivinghoe and in turn up to Ivinghoe Beacon – like many other cyclists I love those roads leading up to the Ashridge National Trust Estate. I was rolling nicely along through the leafy roads of Ashridge, passing the houses owned largely by millionaires. The interesting bit was nearing Potten End, not far from Hemel Hempstead. That photo shows the sign Paul and I had missed. It must have turned around in the wind or something as clearly the club officials would have taken that down. I checked the written instructions as I was wanting to follow the exact route. That was fine and I could see exactly how we went wrong by missing that sign and wasted so much time trying to get back on the right route.
Cycling through Bourne End, Bovingdon, Chesham were all uneventful and then just before Great Missenden turning back on to the quiet lanes I was needing to check the directions at almost every turn. That was fine until I was approaching Wiggington and Tring when I was overtaken by a Luton CC cyclist on a gleaming new bike. I was able to catch him up and we chatted for a few miles as I had thought he was more-or-less following the route. We weren’t but never mind, it was great company and pleasant scenery as we headed towards Aldbury and picking up the route once again.
From Aldbury there is a steepish climb (known locally as Tom’s Hill) where I got left behind. He had an advantage on a gleaming 2014 Cannondale against my steel Thorn. Once I was at the top and cycling through the woodland area was was overtaken by another cyclist. Certainly a strong looking rider and I found myself pulling up alongside after a mile or two to say hello. His name was Steve and the kind of person who was so easy to strike up a conversation with. Good luck, Steve, in your Berkhamsted half marathon.
And now, a jibe against myself!
Last week I teased my friend Paul about his frequent fuelling – as he made sure he was eating at regular points in order to replace all of the calories he was burning. I remember mentioning to Paul that when I go running I always go best on an empty stomach and would never need any water or energy for the first 90 minutes / 10 miles. While that was fine, I came to realise in the last hour of my 4 hour bike ride I was starting to “run on empty”. I was feeling seriously depleted and finding my pace was dropping. I was feeling pretty stiff as well – my back and my neck. I realised I was struggling and feeling very uncomfortable, more so in the last two or three miles.
What made things worse was getting cramp at various stages; mostly this was in my toes and feet. That I can handle while I am cycling as it will pass sooner or later. Then, on the very last climb, I had cramp in one of my quad muscles. That was a horrible painful experience but being stubborn I refused to stop. By the time I reached the top it was gone, thankfully. My feet were cold, along with my fingers: is this connected? Is it a deficiency? Is it a circulation issue? What’s going on?
I remember I kept thinking “if I feel like this after 60 miles, how will I ever manage 150?”. The answer, of course, is fuelling with the right mix of carbohydrates and fluids but not to over do it. Training is also a major key factor, training my body to operate in this way is also very important. I have just under four months to the big event and I’m looking forward to it!
So Paul, you have a good point.
When I got home I was pretty tired and stiff. You know what made a quick improvement? Two mugs of tea and a glass of Cherry Active. I could almost feel it reaching my leg muscles and minimising any soreness. It worked.
I slept soundly. I knew while I was sleeping I was benefitting – yes it’s as if I almost knew I was asleep. I have had this before and it’s a strange feeling – being in a (deep) sleep with the body repairing itself and being aware of that happening. Now of course, I can’t prove that ~ being in a deep sleep ~ and maybe I wasn’t ~ but it certainly felt like it!
I only took two photographs on this ride. The first, the previously missed sign posted above. The second, these wonderful clouds back-lit by beautiful late afternoon sun. Signs of spring coming at last!