Monday, 14 September 2009

My first 100 mile ride

The great thing, I'm told, about doing a really long ride is that the sense of achievement comes just from finishing. Which is just as well, because by the time I got back to the start point the car park was almost empty. But it still felt good.

I must start by thanking Mike for talking me into this, for coaching me beforehand, and for supporting me patiently through the ride.

I've been looking forward to this for months with a mix of excitement and anxiety. We drove to the start point up the steep hill that we would have to climb at the end of the ride, and we arrived to find hundreds of serious looking cyclists with some impressive machines. So for about half an hour anxiety was high. But once we got started the first few miles were pretty straightforward, we settled into the ride, and I started to enjoy myself.

By the time we were a third of the way round most of the serious cyclists had whizzed past us, and the rest of us plodded steadily on. The route had been well thought out, it was clearly signed, and well marshalled. It was more hilly than I had expected, but we went through lovely countryside, and some pretty villages. On the way down to Salisbury the weather was perfectly cool and sunny. But after a break, as we worked around Salisbury Plain, the sky clouded over and we hit a bit of a head wind. However, once we reached Devizes the wind had died down again, and I managed a quick turn of speed. After that I was beginning to get seriously tired, but the miles clicking down kept me going. In the final couple of miles It was no surprise when I had to get off and push up Brassknocker Hill. I made it to the end though, and I wasn't the last to finish.

I had a great day, and judging by the state of my legs I might come out of this a bit stronger. But I suspect the real difference is what's changed inside my head. Eighteen months ago, I thought 30 miles was a long ride. A year ago the longest ride I had done was 60 miles, and my average ride was about 15 miles. This year (up to now) I've been quite pleased to do a 50 mile ride almost every week, with an average ride of 25 miles or so. Yesterday has raised the bar. I doubt if I'll do 100 miles very often, but now 50 miles doesn't seem so far. Despite some friendly ribbing I'm not going to be investing in lycra, but I already knew I should work harder on my speed, and yesterday also confirmed that.

Family, friends and colleagues have been generous with encouragement and sponsorship. The organisers and other participants helped to make it an enjoyable day, and Mike made it possible. I normally like to plan my own routes, take my own time, and enjoy my own company on a ride. But yesterday was a reminder that it can sometimes be good to share the experience.

And I could get hooked on Clif bars.


Anne said...

Clif bars, the food of champions. And darn nice people, too.

Congratulations on the century!

gom1 said...

Thank you.

Russ Nelson said...

Nice ride! I did my firstt century last summer. Wasn't tired, just sore. I think the key is to not use up the glycogen stored in your muscles.

townmouse said...

Looks like you were in Highway Cycling Group country...

Off topic, but are you interested in this?