My First Proper Week of Touring
7 December 2011
I decided that I need to do some proper touring instead of day rides
...So last week I decided to cycle from London to the Lake
District and back again. So on Wednesday I set off early. Deciding
to take it easy on day one I headed for the Grand Union Canal in
Camden and followed it for 65 miles until I reached Aylesbury for
my first night. The going is slow on the canal with dodging people
and animals and it took me 7 hours to get there but it was a great
way to ease my legs into the ride.
Day 2 was to see me head from Aylesbury to Macclesfield near Manchester. The weather was good and after some detours via some mammoth hills I eventually made the 130 miles in 11 hours. My legs starting to feel a little stiff but nothing to worry about.
Day 3 was to be the real test. I started an hour earlier and began the hilly climb up to the lakes. My pace was steady as I didn't want to burn out too quickly. Things were going well until I got near Settle when all of a sudden I was slapped straight in the face by 75mph winds with some hail stones thrown in for good measure. I tried to fight it but was going at around 2.5mph. That would have meant getting to the lakes at 2am. Luckily I managed to find a small road sign to hide behind. Ironically the sign said 'Caution Winds' Um You think????? The storm lasted for a good half an hour until it seemed to calm down just enough to get back on the bike. There were still huge headwinds but at least I was going forward. I eventually got to the Lakes, jelly legged and half asleep at around 6pm. I only managed 115 miles in 12 hours. I felt literally deflated after such a tough day. At least I had a weekend of hiking in the lakes to look forward too.
Day 4 was 'Off Bike' training and I hit some of the hills in the lakes. Again it was very windy but it was nice to work some slightly different muscles for a change.
Day 5 was my rest day. I went for a 4 mile stroll followed by 10 mile recovery ride so that I would be prepared for the return leg.
Day 6 sent me back to Macclesfield. It was a lot easier this time. I thought I might have had huge tail winds but annoyingly they had died down by now which was just my luck. I managed the same route back over 2 hours quicker which I was happy about.
Day 7 was going to be my longest day but it wasn't all that hilly so I thought I would leave an hour later - huge mistake - within minutes on the bike I realised that I now had Southerly headwinds hitting me straight in the face again. I only manages 20 miles in the first 2 hours. After having some breakfast in a cafe I summond up the courage to hit the road again. The monster headwind never let up. I was down to 8mph and couldn't get much above 14mph even on the long downhills. It was so demoralising. By the time it got dark I had only done 75 miles. Still I carried on pushing, weaving, trying to stay on the bike. It was becoming impossible. After 100miles and a few very close shaves with trucks as I was blown into the road, I decided that there was no point in carrying on. This wasn't training anymore and being on a road with no verge was not worth the risk. I painstakingly threw in the towel. I hate giving up, but carrying on in these conditions would really have put me at risk. I kept thinking about what happened to James Cracknell. Sometimes you just need to think with your head.
Day 8 was slow and long, partly because I was annoyed I had given up the day before and partly as it was the final stretch home along the slow, bumpy canal. I eventually got home and had covered my toughest 600miles in a long time. I still have 10 more weeks of solid training and this trip was a good indicator of what I am to expect over the next 6 months of my life. Even though it was tough, I know I can handle it.
Till next time.