Sustainable Travel

Not quite fifty

With a couple of days booked off work, the plan was to head out cycling with my friend Rich and chase that fifty mile trip that we were so close to last time.

The weather clearly had other ideas.

I’ve found cycling in colder temperatures harder, even though realistically we never got much of a hot summer here this year – or at least not during the time the cycling bug had bitten me. I knew it would be a bit more of a challenge, but I was confident in my ability to cycle fifty miles, what I hadn’t counted on was the wind. At times it was 20mph and more times than I care to admit, I could feel the wind catch the front wheel, nudging me into the traffic on the other side of the road. Bracing myself, holding the bike steady and still peddling was a lot harder than I expected it to be. Whilst it wasn’t that heart-pounding, out of breath tired that you get with a hard work out, it was the kind of hard slog that just makes you feel drained and no amount of cake and coffee would revive it.

My dodgy left knee, a result of flat feet, started aching, which is hasn’t done in an age, and I knew it couldn’t get me up the two mile hill required to finish the route. So I abandoned it at 41 miles feeling like a failure, like somehow I was going backwards in my cycling adventures.

I resolved on the train ride home to cycle to town and back to get to fifty miles a day but I knew I just didn’t have it in me. A bath, and a change of clothes later and my legs were showing signs of a hard slog. My legs felt heavy, like somebody had replaced my muscles with lead. They didn’t ache in the way they do when you do more than you’re used to, just they felt like they didn’t quite belong to me.

I felt well and truly gutted, like I’d overestimated my abilities and that whilst I’d done 43 miles before, it was somehow a fluke.

Hearing that Rich, who is used to doing further distances and longer rides than me, was also feeling a bit worse for wear too definitely helped make me realise that I wasn’t a complete failure and he did point out that I did manage to get up some hills that I hadn’t managed before.

So, lessons learned. Don’t be so hard on myself. And cycling in windy conditions is pretty bloody hard…especially that bit with the wind and bout of freezing rain.

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