I did think of the title for this section a few weeks ago when i was on my way back from dartmouth as i was very pleased with how training was going and ended up completing my first 65 miler. As usual that was nearly two weeks ago now, and having gone out for the first time again this afternoon and only done 35 miles(but quite hillyish) i know i should really rename it " physical wreck" But hey, i know i can do it now, and it's only another 30 miles added onto that distance and that will be the first day's cycling done. ( Only problem then is that we've then got to wake up and set off early again, this time in france and do it all again( another 95 miles) and again( 70 miles) and then finally the last day which in comparison should be a relative breeze at 55 miles.
So at any rate apart from my recent wee break again, which was not volitional just due to work and other commitments, i have been training pretty much throughout April and have got into a nice routine of a few 25 -45 mile rides during the week and then a bigger (50- 65 mile) ride at weekends, and thanks to some great weather i've been having a great time, and thoroughly enjoying it. I get bored doing the same route so have have lots of variety- cycling through the moors, or via south hams and also over to cornwall. One of the hardest rides i did although only 45 miles was from here up to Tavistock, then across into cornwall through St Annes chapel, calstock and gunnislake, Cotehele house and back through saltash to Plymouth. Pretty much the entire route was hilly, either a long way up or a long way down. Gunnislake is a bugger- a long slow rise of ever steeper hills and it was really hot. i must be starting to look like a proper cyclist though because when i reached the peak of some hill around cotehele, whoever was at the top said" you must be fit" despite me looking bright red and exhausted" and proper speedy cyclists on skinny bikes have started waving at me, so that's all quite encouraging. When i got to the top of Gunnislake i saw two farmers with a pint outside a pub watching me puffing up the hill, and they laughed and said " you've got miles to go yet" so i said " how far's Plymouth?" and they shouted back " 25 miles" laughing, and i actually thought Great, not too bad then. And they were right. It was 25 miles but it was a lot bloody easier than the 20 miles i'd just done.
In between that i've done a few rides out through the south hams to bigbury and back ( a big killer hill leaving Bigbury also seems to go on for ever but the rest isn't too bad) and have also cycled out to wembury and Bovisand beaches to meet up with james and the Kids and there are plenty of hills there too, and have also done a few runs out to dartmoor after work ( the hill leading up to Goodameavy is fairly short(ish) but practically vertical and nasty- its the one i have yet to do without coughing my lungs up) Then about three weeks ago on a beautiful sunday morning i decided to cycle to Yelverton, on to princetown, across to tavistock and back home on the cycle path, which surprisingly all only worked out as 40 miles but it was very hilly, very hot, and crucially i had a hangover. This is an important point because i think i would have sailed through the ride otherwise. The night before i had gone to an old school friend's flat leaving party. The only problem was her other flat mates were about 23 so i ended up drinking like i did when i was 23 which i am not capable of doing anymore. The party went on to the Dolphin and Admiral mcbride and then culminated at the Quay club with me arriving home at 3 am. So the next day, despite looking worse for wear and with a thumping headache i knew i couldn't waste an entire cycling day, since james had taken the Kids to Pennywell farm( how dedicated am i?) and so after a couple of neurofen and some water i set off towards the moors. By the time i had got to Roborough i had downed most of my water, and decided to head into the last garage before the moors to get some ice cold juice( and maybe a snack for my Journey) unfortunately i then discovered that i had forgotten to bring my purse. I couldn't be bothered to head back again so decided to carry on with my plan, thinking i'd be ok. By the time i got to yelverton i was parched so decided to try and find the nearest toilet to top up my bottle.( which happened to be princetown) Before that i was starving so i ate my one sandwich that i had made (turkey and guacamole which just made me more thirsty) and then was about to set off when i heard the din of hundreds of motorbikes in the distance. I looked back and a convoy of motorbikes was snaking over the hills of the moors as far as you could see- continuous for about 10 minutes. I've never seen anything like it. After a while i remembered i had my camera on me but the majority had passed by then. An amazing thing to see though. I then headed off to princetown and had to content myself with some lukewarm hand washing water from princetown toilets.(not something i would recomend but i was desperate) I should probably have headed back then, but i decided i'd come this far i would carry on and it was an amazing scenic ride up past Merrivale quarry, where i suddenly thought yet again, hmm i am in the middle of nowhere with no money no bicycle pump, no puncture repair kit and i also discovered no credit on my mobile. ( and no reception either) But i eventually headed down a huge hill to Tavistock. Yeah! only another 15 miles to go then. I found about 15 pence in the bottom of my bag and felt sure i would be able to get an ice pop or something with that at a shop in Tavistock metro station, but it was shut (bank holsunday) And the toilet next to it was also shut when i tried to open the door. At that point i must have looked so dejected that the owner of the nearby fast food place asked if i really needed the toilet as i could use his. I explained in a very croaky voice that i was just deperate for some water, and the good man topped up my bottle with some ice cold water!! Result. I went from despair to elation in the space of a few seconds. Simple pleasures..
Well since then i have managed my biggest ride to dartmouth and back ( 65 miles) but unfortunately after the biggest hill in the world coming out of dartmouth i now have a dodgy right knee. I'd forgotten about it until today, when i had a pootle up to yelverton, around sheepstor and Burrator reservoir, on to cadover bridge shaugh prior bickleigh and back down to plympton in the rain. But when i say dodgy i mean a sharp pain every revoulution of the bike and added to that i also have alternating arm neck hip and buttock pain. So all in all i am a bit of a physical wreck, But the important thing is i am still keeping it up and i know that in 5 weeks time i really will be cycling from London to paris so it is all getting very real now.
Went up to London last weekend for a run through of the London to Paris plans and to meet with the other cyclists, and there was a really good turn out- people of all ages and abilities and i am probably one of the younger ish ones although i did see a posse of very twenty- something people( these people turned up late with a pint from downstairs whilst the oldies arrived in good time and got seats!) All in all there will be about 120 in our group and a similar number on the other route and all of us will try to meet on the outskirts of paris and do the final 5-10 miles in together which should be amazing. Apparently the french are great with the cyclists and at the finale people sitting outside cafes clap us as we arrive. Fantastic! But there will be lots more work to do before then. I left the meeting feeling very excited and quite inspired, but unfortunately i had also brought kate with me so the rest of the day kind of followed an All bar one(lovely tapas and wine for lunch) walkabout and waxy 'conners kind of route and ended up back at the hotel again at 3 am. and me waking feeling like death the next day. Never mind. You only live once.
5 weeks to go to be magically transformed into someone who looks fit. I'm still waiting.Unfortunately my calves, which were big enough in the first place are just getting bigger, my bum seems to have also got bigger and no firmer due to the number of bike hours i spend sitting on it and my waist also seems to have expanded because i am always hungry. Whoever said exercise was good for you?My next post will be my last before the trip. Have to go organise a flyer for my final fundraising event- school disco for mums ( and dads) with 80's music.