Did It

I am aware – my timeline is full of them – that there are cyclists out there for whom a 44 mile ride is a mere jaunt, an easy commute perhaps, or a rest day. But for me it was two miles further than I’d ever actually cycled in a day before (and that was on some rather flatter roads). I had a vague plan that I would get out in the weeks running up to it and do some longer rides, but one trip to deliver POP leaflets aside, life rather got in the way. I was fairly certain that I would be able to do the distance, just not sure whether I was going to have any fun doing it, or whether I would be able to sit down again for a week afterwards.* So, apart from a last-minute recce on the Thursday before, when I managed a 28 mile loop of some of the roads we would cover, Saturday’s Anniversaire was a bit of a trip into the unknown.

Fortunately my companions were all up for a ride ‘at the speed of chat’ and, apart from a bit of a headwind, the weather proved kind with even a bit of sunshine to cheer us on our way. I was quite pleased with the way the route worked out on the day. We paused to ‘admire the view’ at the top of every significant climb and the only real hazard was negotiating round some straying sheep and their lambs on the way to the lunch stop. After lunch and a slightly grim bit of A road and a final climb we were rewarded with an incredible downhill run with the wind at our backs along a tiny road that we had completely to ourselves. The other half came and met us a few miles out from home and with the siren call of cake to lure us on, we lit off along the last rolling stretch like cyclists possessed. We got home with 43.6 miles recorded on my GPS so after refuelling I escorted my companions 0.2 miles back towards Bigtown, waving them off just before the first hill and then pedalled slowly back to collapse on the sofa for the rest of the evening.

Amazingly, the next day, I didn’t even ache too much and although I’d planned nothing more than some light gardening and a walk down to the ford, when a friend suggested a quick loop around the reservoir it didn’t take all that much arm twisting before I agreed. After a winter of mostly plodding down to the Papershop interspersed with plodding into Bigtown, it was good to be reminded that I do actually live in the middle of some of the best cycling conditions in the UK, if you don’t mind dodging the odd pothole and putting a few sheep back into their fields occasionally. Unfortunately, as my camera refused to co-operate and take any actual pictures, you’ll just have to believe me.

here's one I prepared earlier on the same route

here’s one I prepared earlier on the same route

So now all I have to do is work out a 45 mile route for next year…

* It must surely not be beyond the wit of man – or woman – to design a pair of trousers that don’t make you look like A Cyclist, but which don’t have a mahoosive seam right down the most sensitive part of one’s undercarriage, no? I refuse to go down the lycra route if I can possibly help it. A bit of room in the thighs wouldn’t go amiss either…

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9 Responses to Did It

  1. Paul says:

    Well done you. Generally if I do a Sunday afternoon energetic ride (energetic for me, that is) it will be about 25km or so with about 2/3rd off road and 1/3rd on. I tell myself that off-road is more strenuous than on-road and I am sure it probably is, but I think I am kidding myself about how much.

    The longest road ride I have done in recent years was 46km, by my GPS, on a Neilson holiday in Turkey. My heart sank when four men and one woman, all wiry and thin as whippets, turned up at the bike shed, in lycra and with their own helmets brought from home (one even changed the pedals on the resort bike so he could ride clipless – that is the correct term, isn’t it?) and starting talking about Etapes and Marmottes (which I had previously thought were cute furry things in the alps), and one guy had done the etape twice – gulp!

    We did the ride in 2.5 hours, of which the 0.5 was at a coffee stop (no cake in Turkey) half way around. The first half around the coast road was very up and down, although specactularly scenic, so while I huffed and puffed at the back the peloton stopped to admire the view at each summit, and set off immediately I arrived and coasted down behind them, resting en route. Two-etapes even came back down the hill each time and escorted me up with encouraging words so he did much of the course TWICE! The second half was on a plateau and quite flat. Overall we managed 23kph – do the math. I have NEVER been so knackered in my life.

    The following year, a different resort in Turkey, I think we did about 35km. The keen ones hammered off ahead and missed the turn so we all did a long detour to follow them. They should have slowed down a bit because it was they, not me, who were flagging on the return leg, though stopping from time to time to help ourselves to clementines straight from the tree did make it more agreeable.

  2. Tali says:

    I solved the trowser/short problem with underpants like these: http://www.corinnedennis.co.uk/padded-underwear/womens-padded-cycling-undies.html

    Good for longer rides, but not needed around town.

  3. disgruntled says:

    @paul – that sounds like a bit more exertion than I’d want to do on a holiday – I hope the views were worth it! A gentle roll down to the boulangerie for pain au chocolat is more my style
    @Tali – it may yet come to that. FWIW my extremely well worn-in Brooks meant I didn’t have any problems but I suspect I’m reaching the limits of what can be done without padding (always excepting the natural padding I already have)

  4. John Gibson says:

    Yes, very well done, I like the picture.
    John

  5. Flighty says:

    You must have been well pleased! xx

  6. disgruntled says:

    thanks John
    Flighty – I was!

  7. Jo says:

    Well done! Padded undershorts are one of the best inventions after bikes and cake, not least because they completely remove all seam problems. Bib shorts, however, are my preference. The lack of a wasitband allows for maximum cake consumption with maximum shorts expansion ;)

  8. disgruntled says:

    See today’s post for the expansion issue…

  9. Going the lycra route doesn’t have to be dreadful! Here’s another vote for padded undergear — no seam issues, and padding in all the right places. What a difference!

    For those pesky external pants/trouser issues, you might consider buying garments with a fair bit of spandex built in. My cycling shorts are lycra, but they are cut very much like any other shorts. (I think they’re sold as a “city” version, so that one can appear “normally” dressed when gadding about on a cycle.)

    Mine are similar to these:

    http://www.ems.com/product/index.jsp?productId=11910518

    No one will mistake you a speed-mad road racer in these!

    I’m in the USA, but I suspect similar stuff is available in Europe. You might find, though, that standard full-cut trousers with a bit of stretch increase your riding comfort quite a bit — and the stretch might make the thigh area feel more roomy.

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