50 Miles Up

What’s happened since the last blog post? I’ve only done three 50 mile rides in the last three weeks, and each week I’ve felt myself getting better and better. I hope I can continue on this path as the Sportive is twice the distance of my longest trip.

But let’s backup to Week 4 which was a rest week and in the end I managed no cycling at all. Oops.  I didn’t mean to not cycle at all, but my legs were tired in the week so I didn’t cycle to work, and I was away the whole weekend (Unfortunately this was the same weekend as the Pedal on Parliament 2 event so I had to miss that).

I started back with the two commutes on Tuesday and Thursday in Week 5 and felt noticeably stronger.  The weather was better too and I noticed more people out on their bikes.  I took a small personal amount of pleasure from overtaking three teenagers on the hill climb home – that was usually me. A 30km trip around the Bathgate Alps on Saturday afternoon in glorious sunshine ended with a host of personal bests, but also a bit of cramp as I pushed it a little bit too hard.

Monday was a Bank Holiday which I’d long targeted as the day I’d do my first 50 miles, however I couldn’t have picked a worse day weather-wise with 20mph average southerly winds.  I had intended a trip to Biggar but as the forecast was heavy rain down that way, a friend suggested the “Round the Forth Bridges” route.  It was a fantastic start with the strong tailwind north to Kincardine Bridge, but the coastal leg east was into some strong winds and by the time I turned south onto the Forth Bridge my legs were quite tired.  I nearly didn’t make it across the bridge the winds were so strong, and the uphill, headwind combination of the final leg nearly finished my off.  The final distance was 89.6km and I didn’t have the energy to do the last 0.4km to get it over 90km.

(Rides:6, Distance: 167.67km, Time: 7:09:42 Elevation: 1,732 Av. Speed: 23.5 Cadence: 82)

In week 6 I finally made it onto a group ride with some riders from the shop. Despite wanting to go out each week, I’d only managed to do it once way back in March in the cold and rain.  This time the sun had returned and set off at a good pace.  I was learning the skill of group riding but feeling fine and keeping up with the group on hill climbs.  Originally the route chosen was about 44 miles, but everyone was going well and it was such a nice day that the decision was taken to go as far as Biggar.  So I managed another 50+ miler.  However, the second hill out of Biggar on the way back and my legs went a bit.  I could keep up on the flat, but had no power on the hills. Thankfully, Nick hung back and paced me back to the group which was fun.  After the ride, I felt a bit disappointed that I’d not been able to keep up, but then realised that I’d done incredibly well for a novice and that I hadn’t yet been cycling for a full year.

(Rides:4, Distance: 140.21km, Time: 5:27:42 Elevation: 1,117 Av. Speed: 25.7 Cadence: 83)

Onto week 7 and the third 50 mile ride and also my biggest hill climb yet – the renowned Crow Road.  The loop out of Stirling was a 55 mile recce for the Trossachs Ton which some of the guys from the shop are doing this Sunday.  Initially I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it as I’d get back too late but a last minute rejigging of plans meant I could go.  However, l looked at the route and saw the big bump in the middle of it and had my reservations that I could make it.

I shouldn’t have worried as I felt much better than the previous week, and whilst I couldn’t match the others on the Crow Road, I wasn’t too far behind either.  In fact, I could probably have gone a bit quicker but didn’t want to blow out half way up.  It wasn’t until just before the end that I remarked that there was only 10km to go that I couldn’t quite make it up the last short climb and couldn’t catch them on the descent back into Stirling.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and my legs have now stopped aching!

The day before I’d had a really enjoyable trip out with my son along the NCN 75 from home to Jupiter Artland, a 40km round trip.  My son did really well, and it was very funny to see him adopt the aero position on his BMX.

(Rides:5, Distance: 184.86km, Time: 8:23:23 Elevation: 1,542 Av. Speed: 22.0 Cadence: 84)

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