Distance: 41.3 miles. Elevation: 1420 ft
This blog post is more of a brain dump than anything else.
Apart from a handful of short (~10 mile) rides last year to pick up building supplies from Screwfix, etc, I have not ridden my bike for fifteen months, probably my longest period of cycling inactivity.
My last real ride had been in France, March 2020, just before the first coronavirus lockdown. Since then, most people’s lives have been affected by the coronavirus measures, particularly social life. Luckily, for me, that period coincided with my having to do loads of building work in my house, converting the house into two separate dwellings. So, for my purposes, it was quite productive to have those restrictions imposed on my ability to go swanning off to Europe for extended breaks.
But now, with most of the building work complete, I’ve been gagging to get back to Europe for some motorhome touring and cycling. Unfortunately it looks increasingly unlikely that I’ll be able to get over there this year due to travel restrictions, and I have resigned myself to the fact that any return to cycling will have to be done in the UK.
Over the past couple of months I have tapered-off and finally quit my anti-depressants, which I’d been using for the past 2 years to help get over a personal loss. They definitely did their intended job and I seem to have been able to quit them without any particularly negative effects. And I recently decided to get back on my bike again. Last week I did three evening rides of 12 miles, then a couple of 24 mile rides, and then, today, this ride of 41 miles, using a route I designed years ago as an easy one with no hills.
The weather was warm (23°), with a slight breeze. I set off at 1pm.
For the first hour of this ride my mind was reeling. I could not mentally relax and enjoy the scenery. My head was filled with all the injustice in the world and the way this country is being run (into the ground) by the most dishonest, unscrupulous, self-centred, bungling bunch of inept morons imaginable. It was irritating that I couldn’t chill out – the ride was being ruined. I was moaning too about the road surfaces. Some of these deeply rutted roads, I thought, are in the same unrepaired state as they have been for the past ten years I’ve been using them.
But then, gradually, I realised my head was clearing. I think it happened around the hour mark, and after that I couldn’t even get wound-up if I tried. Rest assured, the government hadn’t become any less incompetent over that hour, but it was no longer affecting my ride. Maybe some chemical (endorphins?) had kicked-in.
This morning I weighed 12st 6lb (79kg). That is more than a stone heavier than my preferred weight. In fact my weight at the peak of my fitness about 5 years ago was 11stone (70kg), but anything around 71 or 72 kg is good. So for this ride I’m carrying the equivalent of an extra 7 or 8 bags of sugar (or flour, or anything!) with me. But there’s more: I’m on my GT Grade gravel bike, which weighs 9.7kg, nearly 2kg heavier than my Colnago; that’s another bag of sugar/flour! But there’s more: the fat tires on my gravel bike have more rolling resistance. And then there’s the double wammy of having to push all that extra weight while being 15-months out of condition! Blimey! With all that taken into account it’s a surprise I could even turn the pedals!
In addition to the above there is one more to consider. Back in Dec 2020, I injured my knee after a day of ‘flooring’ work in my house. I woke up the next day to see a worrying lump on my right knee. Initially mis-diagnosed in an over-the-phone ‘consultation’ as bursitis, I’ve since had an ultrasound examination and am now awaiting an MRI to investigate further. While it (luckily) doesn’t seem to unduly affect, or be affected by, my cycling, it nevertheless is a worry and I want to get it sorted.
There is one more thing about this ride, and other recent ones: I realised that I’m on constant guard of being pushed off my bike. This has happened to several people I know. Some idiot leans out of a van window and pushes you off the road. Whilst I realise it’s statistically unlikely, it’s just another thing to be on your guard about while riding in the good old UK.
I found this relatively straightforward route a physical challenge. After I’d got back and had a peanut butter sandwich, I crashed out on the bed for a couple of hours! Comparing with previous performances over the same route, I learned that today was the slowest, a whopping 45 minutes slower than my best back in 2015!
Click to enlarge / see slideshow
- “I got a pretty good time up Ditchling Beacon, but there was a strong headwind”
- “I just got a PR up Ide Hill yet I was carrying a 2kg backpack”
… inferring that “… I could have done better under ideal conditions”
ECs allow you scope to improve next time, even if you put the same effort in!