Things weren’t looking so good two days before though – I gave myself food poisoning with a rotten tomato, had a very poor night’s sleep and felt very weak and tired.
Before that I’d been struck down with a severe cold for 4 days in January. I’d been just well enough to make the Croft Trail build day in the rain and cold. I’d returned to work the next week but not felt right and that wrote off the next weekend. I missed the MTBMeetup (Coedybrenin social ride via Twitter) and the Red Kite race. I had managed a short walk on the Sunday where I’d located some steps for a future ride near Nailsworth. Things had been looking better for the week before this ride.
After thoughts of cancelling or getting someone else to do it I decided to carry on anyway. I was desperate to start covering some distance again.
On the day I felt slightly weak but I could feel enough energy to carry me for a few hours. The weather definitely encouraged me. After weeks of rain the sky was dry.
When I arrived at the start point I rode up the ramp to the car park expecting to see the usual sea of bikes and people. There was a very pleasant aroma from the burger van but no bikes. Then I spotted Gary Palmer unloading his bike.
We sat around for a bit, checked the Facebook event to see if we had the right start point (we had) or if anyone had left messages (they hadn’t). After ten minutes we decided that it was just the two of us then. In some ways this was good news: I had a whole host of new route options that I wanted to investigate, there was no pressure on pace and we could do a reasonably short ride (ha ha ha).
The route had the initial aim of reaching Tetbury by lunchtime but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to do the descent to the Weighbridge Inn (pie pub). Then we decided to check out some tracks near Minchinhampton. Then the track descent to Avening, only we had to pedal down all of it. It was very unlikely that we would be claiming any Strava honours on this trip.We ticked off another missing track coming out of Avening and then followed the old railway line into Tetbury.
Generally I had been feeling pretty good and the fitness was clearly still there. On the road section near Tetbury I noticed that I was weaker than normal. I’d also eaten very little which worried me. It hadn’t rained yet, which was great, but the wind was icy cold on my head.
The Garmin was showing 26km when we reached the bike jumble. I started to wonder if we could cover 50km if we kept going. After the tea stop we called round to see Pete at Veleton bikes for a cup of tea. He planted bad ideas about buying a new road bike.
I warned Gary that is was uphill all of the way to Sapperton from Tetbury. I’d ridden a similar route in December and it had wrecked me because of that. This time we had a sea of soggy mud to contend with pretty much the whole way. Gary commented that is was heavy going. I felt the same. I just concentrated on regulating my power output to keep me feeling well and the distance just seemed to go by. At one point I followed the advice of a marathon runner and thought entirely about something else, in my case work. This helped more muddy tracks to pass by. I forced myself to drink and input some Mule bars and Carmans Muesli bars. These instantly lifted my energy levels.
We were both seriously fatigued in the muddy field past Frampton Mansell that required intense pedalling to make progress downhill. I felt that I was approaching a bonk moment. More Mule bars kept me going. I once again failed to find the correct route first time down through Cowcombe woods but we did have a giggle sliding around in the mud.
The last leg of the ride was to follow the Stroudwater canal back to Stroud and then the old railway line to the start point. The canal was flooded in a few places. We watched a walker wade through a flood under a bridge before deciding that we would give it a go too.
When we reached Stroud I had the option of peeling off for home but decided to complete the circuit by riding to the start. Gary thanked me kindly for turning an easy ride into an epic and then I rode home.
Garmin claimed 65km but was missing a few when it couldn’t locate any satellites at the start. The Garmin website also seems incapable of working out my moving time properly but Strava has managed it.
Stats: 67km (estimated), moving time 5h20, av moving speed 12.1 km/h, 1990 KCal (and the rest).
It was a relief to be out on the bike again. I clearly didn’t learn my lesson regarding my lack of self control though. The reason I was ill was probably related to the lack of rest in the preceeding three months. Oh well, maybe I’ll learn soon.