Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Two Down,but Soooo Much Up!

Crikey. And 'Gulp!' So, this cycling lark then...bit tougher than I thought it would be...lots of hills that go up, it seems. I went at it with gusto on Sunday, as I pedaled out of Penzance and straight out up a ridiculously steep hill that (I'm not afraid to admit) had me pushing the bike for a few metres there. Say what you like, you weren't there doing it, so don't judge me :-)

My bike was in fine shape, thanks to Lewis at Woods Cycles in Headcorn. After a first trial pack the day before the off, I discovered I was far too heavily weighted in the back end (oh, please. Behave yourselves!). This resulted in an emergency Saturday morning operation at the shop, jumping the queues of other customers, to get Lewis to bodge a rear rack on to the front of my bike to share the load a bit. I actually found this makeshift addition very reassuring, and more in tune with my style of doing things. Now, with the load spread better over both wheels, there was less chance of me coming a cropper on the steep up hills.

I got the train to London, walked the bike across town and made the connecting train to Penzance by the skin of my teeth. Five hours later and I was changing clothes on the platform and making sure things were securely tied on (to the bike rack. Come on people, minds out of the gutter, please).
A sunny Cornish evening, and an already pooped cyclist!
It was only 10 miles over to St Just, and a beautiful sunny afternoon, and even with the near-coronary-invoking hills, I was very excited to be underway. I got to St Just and my campsite for the night, in the garden of the YHA, in plenty of time to 'pop over' to Land's End that evening, if I felt like it. I decided I did feel like it, as this was often a strategy that people used - officially starting their ride in the evening, stopping the night and carrying on proper the next day. Of course, it was 3.5 miles out and the same back, so by the time that was done, it was a 17 mile day, with a biggie lined up in the morning.

Come morning, and my conscience got the better of me. I'd done the previous evening's Land's End visit without my luggage, which I felt might be seen as cheating, so I went back out fully loaded, adding an extra 3.5 miles to the official day's total, later on regretting the bravado of this decision, as the day's hills took their toll.
847 miles by the sign, 1603 miles by my route. Bring it on!
I was going to Perranporth on the first day, about 42 miles away (45 odd with the extra bit at the start), hugging the coastal B-roads as much as I could, and quickly learning that every down hill was paid for twice - the climb to get to it, and the climb out afterwards. This was a shame, as each downhill pretty much brought me into another gorgeous seaside village, each of which I increasingly resented, as to visit each one resulted in a ridiculous climb out afterwards! I quickly grew to dread the downs as much as the ups!

Soldiering on, my cycling strategy for the first day was off kilter a bit. I was riding as though (a) I wasn't carrying an extra 25-odd kg of kit, and (b) was out on a one-off training style ride, with nothing to do tomorrow. I wasn't drinking enough, having enough rest breaks or topping up my calories either, so by the end of the day I was pretty wiped out. Still, the view at Perranporth was amazing from the cliff-top YHA, and just about made up for it. It also gave me time to review my strategy, and adjust my food and water needs for the next leg.

Day 2 was a 50-miler to Liskeard via Padstow, so started the day continuing up the coast. I kept humming the 1980's tune by Musical Youth (be honest, you remember them) as I "passed the Duchy 'pon the left hand side". Now THAT is a good pun by anyone standards, especially in light of the physical activity I was submitting myself to! I made a point of stopping for a 10 minute rest every 10 miles or hour of riding, give or take a good place to stop, and this helped a lot with keeping energy levels up. Padstow marked the almost exact halfway mark and lunch, so by the time I was delivered across the bay  by the wee ferry, I was suitably refreshed and ready to tackle the second 25 miles across Bodmin Moor to Liskeard.

Despite my breaks and efforts to keep up with fluids and food, I was seriously flagging as the afternoon wore on. Bodmin Moor is not flat, and after slogging up several long and almost never-ending slopes, or other short and viciously steep hills, I found I was forced off the bike more and more often. I eventually gave up feeling too bad about pushing the bike up some of the worst hill, as I knew the alternative was to not progress any further. I am interested to see how my fitness and strength improve over the coming days and weeks, and hopefully find I will be able beat more of the hills than beat me.

I've taken a rest day today (already! What am I like?!) mostly to catch up with an old college mate from Writtle who I've not seen in 11 years, but also to rest the legs a bit, as they are certainly not used to the kind of thrashing I've just given them. Tomorrow I have a 40 miler out to the eastern edge of Dartmoor, so lots more lovely climbs to  come! I will endeavour to throw some photos into the blog by the end of the weekend, and see if I can work out a link to a map to show my route...not to mention add in some statistics, so check back soon, and in the meantime, thanks to everyone who has donated, and please, please tell more people! Every little helps and, trust me, I'm earning every penny!

That's it for now, more soon, thanks for tuning in :-) 


Riding In The Tracks Of Giants said...

That sounds pretty tough going bro. But I've seen you tough out worse than that and you'll soon have muscles to sort those hills. Enjoy your carb loading!

Riding In The Tracks Of Giants said...

Great write up bro - I can really sense how tough it is these first few days. You'll be flying along by the end though.