I’ve been approaching my end of season break with the same enthusiasm and desire to enjoy it that I had for Kona this year. I’d decided I had to take three weeks completely off but allowed myself longer if I was enthused to get started. I did absolutely nothing. I’d sit in a pub on an afternoon with a pint, read my book and watch the world go by. I visited my mum with my sister and nephews. I even taught my eldest nephew to ride his bike which perhaps ranked as the most fulfilling moment of the year !
I started back with a couple of sessions with friends. A solid 50 mile ride with Alex followed the next day with an hours run with Alex and Rob. Both great fun but that was enough and I put my feet up again.
In this spirit of training being fun I’d arranged to meet my friend, Roger, for a beer. Only problem is he lives in Rutland and I live in Somerset… just a mere 200 miles or so apart. Fairest way is to meet halfway which Roger reckoned was Swindon. I checked roughly and thinking it was slightly closer to me I searched for a pub just north – I found The Red Lion in Crickslade. Looked perfect with a massive selection of real ale on tap.
So Tuesday this week I decide it’s a good idea to go for my first squad swim session on the day I have to ride 100 miles having done one 50 mile ride in 4 weeks. Also, the coach, decides to be chatty after the session. I get on the road by 9:15am reckoning I have till 4pm to get there. I felt pretty good so I started to hammer. I was seeing high heart figures but I was enjoying it, getting ahead of schedule and visualising a nice relaxed coffee and cake once the back of it was broken.
Through 50 miles in under 3 hours and super pleased. Then up the next hill I ground to a halt. At this point I discover that I’d forgotten to pop a few emergency gels in my pocket that I’d thought to do that morning. I’d also run out of water. It was a further 10 miles before I got to Bradford on Avon and got lots of fluid and food.
Immediately after this I hit the whopping hill out of town. This was getting bad. I was feeling twinges of cramp which became proper cramp. I must have been stopping every 15 minutes for the last 90 minutes sorting out the cramp. I was praying there were no big hills or I would have been pushing.
I’ve never felt so pleased to arrive somewhere in the drizzly rain at dusk. I literally rolled in. Roger had just arrived having done 115 miles. I’d not have made it as my ride was 96 miles. I was in a state already wondering about riding back the next day which would be in to the prevailing winds.
The Red Lion did not disappoint. Big open fire which we got plonked in front of. 12 real ales on tap. We managed to sample 4. Good food, friendly atmosphere, comfortable room and great breakie. All made even better by it feeling like a mission to get there and the place itself was a safe haven from what was in store the next day.
My legs ached like B%$^ards the next morning so I drew on memories of my big mileage days and how that tended to not mean a thing when it came to riding. It didn’t ! I set off at a more conservative pace for home but still completed the ride in exactly (to the minute) same ride time. It was far more comfortable and included two relaxed stops for coffee and food.
It’s rekindled my desire to ride. I am very chuffed.