The training miles are gradually nudging up. They are not increasing at the pace that the training “plan” would have me do, nor at the frequency of riding, nor with the determination that some of my more professional followers would prefer me to do. But 48.8 miles on Saturday morning was a certain mark of success. And given that it was a lumpy 48.8 miles with somewhat of a headwind and the after effects of some rather delightful Baklava the night before. It took my legs a good 10 miles to get going so that was Bridgnorth before I felt vaguely human. Dodge the shoppers on the streets and out towards Ironbridge. Banana consumed, thinking of my early cycling following days and a bunch of fresh-faced pros extolling the slow sugar release of the yellow fruit riding up a pretty similar hill, onwards and descending from Brosely to the new iron bridge before a ride along he Severn to the bottom of the Sutton Maddock. For years this was my bete noir but in the last month I have conquered it not once but twice. This all bodes well. From here its a straightforward roll to Shifnal to pick up the back roads to Albrighton, passing the futuristic shell of the Cold War Museum at Cosford on the way. And then on to Codsall. Starting to ache now and realising I’m a little light on the mileage I opt for an extra loop to come back into Codsall and a head wind. In the middle of August. These forecasters are a joke. From here it is an easy ride back home with the exception of the climb out of Lower Penn. But on Saturday that too seemed to be easier. And so to home. Jump in the shower, double espresso and lunch and the recovery has already taken hold.
Now what I did after this won’t be recorded in this blog but needless to say it didn’t really help towards the training. However, if I can get out twice this week, with a long ride at the weekend I think I can feel safer in the ability to get around the Tour Ride. And with over £500 of sponsorship either given or pledged I have a real incentive to do it.
But when it comes to riding the bike I have to say I actually do like it. So it is with predictable certainty that the weather forecasters were yet again wrong. I’m not sure where the “south” currently extends to but it seems to have encompassed the Black Country and South Staffordshire for the past week – not something that I find any comfort in whatsoever. But I digress. With the support (or should I say coercion) of Mrs AB I’ve been out for a shortish afternoon ride in the rain. No longer can I be called a fair weather cyclist. No, I actually quite like riding in the rain once I’ve got over that bit of getting myself out of the door and putting bum to saddle. Its nothing new, when I used to run, I preferred Peter Kay’s fine rain. Somehow then I ran better. And its pretty much the same on the bike. The only snag is that my survival isn’t solely based on pushing on but also the ability of other road users to help me out by acknowledging my presence and behaving accordingly. Today was not a good ride for that. So yesterday’s maybe is a have done of which I’m quite chuffed. I’m sat here with a nice hot cuppa and have recovered quite quickly. Next step is a long ride this weekend to get those base miles up before the big one in just over 4 weeks. I’ll keep you posted.
Didn’t the Littlest Hobo always say that tomorrow he’d settle down? Well for me, maybe tomorrow I’ll get out on the bike. This just won’t do – and its not the British summer that is to blame (though the doomsayers seem to have forgotten the scorching June and Sweltering July we’ve just had!). No, my particular vice this week is the decorating. Why o ‘why do Mrs AB and I continue with the pretence that we enjoy the decorating. Okay, so Mrs AB does like doing this stuff but I certainly don’t. But, with the rain seemingly persisting in hanging around the Wolverhampton area contrary to the predictions of the UKs finest meteorologists (a profession soon to be twinned with Psychics and Tarot Readers) its not actually been a bad way of keeping me busy. Tomorrow offers better so its hopefully off for a couple of hours to stretch the legs. The big ride is fast approaching and I am now worried about the lack of long distance training.
So yesterday not only did I have a great ride but I’ve only gone and entered myself into another long distance bike ride. And its a week after the Tour Ride. 88.9 miles from Oxford to Cambridge – at least it should be flat(er than the Tour Ride!). I’m starting to think this is my own version of the Autumn Classics and you have to admit Oxford and Cambridge have something similar to the names such as Lombardy and Tours, although I’m not sure how Stoke fits (perhaps the Milan of North Staffordshire?).
The ride is for the British Heart Foundation but I’m not seeking sponsors. I am though still open to all kind offers of sponsorship for the Tour Ride and if you want to support me and haven’t yet just go to www.prostatecancercharity.org.uk/abandonedbicycle. The totaliser smashed my initial target and with the current pledges not far off £500 I’ve got a real incentive to get to the finish. But there’s always room for more.
This is how Sunday’s were designed to be, I’m pretty sure of that. Despite the Catholic education, I’m pretty sure that any overseerer in the sky thought that Sunday was meant for a good ride in the English countryside. And so with enthusiasm gathered from depths I didn’t know existed I’d had breakfast and first espresso of the day by 8.30 and was in the car by 9 headed south. My destination was Evesham and a rendezvous with one of my virtual cycling buddies, Nic. Nic is a friend of Mrs ABs who responded to one of my early blogs suggesting we give each other some mutual support. I think it’s fair to say that we have both suffered inertia in varying forms and so far Facebook and email encouragement together with an eye on each other’s Runkeeper log has been great in keeping this going. Today was time to meet up and hit those roads together.
Evesham seemed like a mutually convenient meeting point being about equidistant time wise from our respective homes and I was quietly impressed with it on a sleepy August Sunday – I can’t say I can say the same later in the day but I suppose every town suffers these days! Parking up on the Meadows just kept the dreamy Sunday image going and it wasn’t long before Nic turned up. We had a 35 mile circuit planned around the Cotswolds. What we hadn’t factored was a) parking charges on a Sunday (almost financially embarrassed at the start after false information from the local authority website) b) hills of which there are legion and c) the human sub-species Homo Moterus Inpatientus. Still, we managed to find some quiet rolling roads and enjoyed the amble, complete with an obligatory coffee stop (espressos 2 and 3 in dual formation) at a nice little and surprisingly quiet coffee shop in Chipping Campden (although I was asked if I wanted a small or large double espresso!). The only sting was the climb out of CC which seemed to go on and get steeper – one of us definitely didn’t have their climbing legs on but I won’t say who.
So all in all today’s been good and I’m not complaining. I’m sat here with a post-ride pint and about to collapse on the sofa. Job done.
(Thanks to my virtual buddy and another challenge added to the calendar.)