This weekend's inspired plan was to drive out to somewhere flat, and get in my last (er, and first) long ride before the 62 mile race, which is now in less than three weeks. The day didn't start well when I got lost on the way to the car park, and it took me nearly two hours to drive 45 miles. I paid for four hours of parking, and set off along the trail, only to be faced with a hill - small, but definitely not flat by my reckoning.
This was an out and back route for me, and I'd one my homework and started at the bottom of the very gentle (but very long) climb, thinking I'd put in the effort on the way out, and coast all the way home.
Where to turn round though? After twelve miles there was a signpost advising of a cafe two miles ahead. If I stopped there, that would mean a 28 mile round trip. When I got to the cafe though, there was a picnic spot signed another mile ahead - which would mean a 30 mile round trip. But 30 miles was tantilisingly close to half way through the race, and I decided that psychologically it would feel good to have broken the half way barrier....
By this point I was that odd combination of grouchy and enjoying myself that I often get on a long bike ride or run, and amused myself by making a short video, which I'm not even going to show you because it's so dull, and illustrates nothing except how slowly I was going.
After 19 miles I arrived back at the cafe, and managed to get my fingers working enough to buy a Double Decker and drink some more of my (tepid) flask of tea. My grouchiness increased when I came across this sign - my car was in Ashbourne...
And, as I mentioned, I seemed to be going uphill again.
However, there is a perverse pleasure in discomfort brought on by exercise. Yes, I was getting tired, but look! I'd cycled 20 miles, 21, 22, and I was still going! Think of where I'd have got to if I'd set out from home and gone in a straight line! (Doncaster, probably, which is why I didn't). I started doing odd mental arithmetic, trying to work out how long the race would take me if I kept up my current speed ('all day' was the answer).
Eventually I did feel a slight downward slant in the trail, although I never got to the stage of freewheeling once in 32 miles, as the surface was too rough and the wind too strong. I passed my initial picnic spot (only six miles to go) then eventually reached the 'steep slope - cyclists dismount' sign again.
Oddly enough nobody offered to help, and I'm far too stubborn to ask.
With six minutes left of my four hour parking ticket, I finally made it out of the car park. Thirty two miles, bike caked in grime, and one pair of worryingly muddy hand-knitted socks (whose idea was it to wear those??)
Two days later I'm not feeling it at all, which I'm taking as a good sign. I cycled to work today and neither my backside nor my knees objected once. Maybe all this cycling is actually making me a little fitter?
Talk to me about that again in three weeks...