I have been for a few good cycling adventures in the last 10 days. Last Saturday I went for a 25 mile ride with one of our two cycling-mad neighbours. We are forever seeing them setting off or returning from cycling trips so I thought it would be a good way to get to know them (and the local cycling routes). We headed South from Bristol through Chew Magna, Dundry and a few other villages along single track roads. I drafted behind for much of the route and was amazed and how much easier it was to maintain a decent speed.
The following day, I decided to cycle the Southern section of the Avon Cycleway which is an 85 mile route around Bristol. I planned to cycle 60 miles, however it had been quite a while since I’d cycled a long distance and I basically forgot the importance of taking adequate supplies. The first couple of hours were great fun as I raced along country lanes in the afternoon sun, rapidly glugging down my diminishing water supplies.
I stopped at Clevedon seafront to look at the pier and prepare myself for the ride inland towards Bath. Entering Clevedon seafront felt like I’d stepped back in time – a band could be heard playing hymns and everybody was wearing beige except for a handful of people sun-bathing on the pebble beach wearing full-length bathing suits. I gave my camera to a local gent to take of photo and watched as he pointed the camera at his face, obviously mystified by the futuristic contraption. Eventually the camera was pointed in the correct direction but he still managed to include one of his fingers in the picture. Amazingly it came out in an antique sepia effect!
From Clevedon I headed East through a number of small villages and was enjoying myself until two cyclists flew past. I stepped up the pace and kept them in view for about 5 miles before losing them at a junction. However, what followed the junction was a 2 mile steady incline, and drawing on my Alps experience I was able to maintain a decent pace and managed to catch up and overtake the cyclists a few hundred metres from the top. This was a great feeling and gave me confidence that my cycling ability is improving (who said I was competitive!!)
At the 40 mile mark I reached Pensford and decided this was a good place to stop and refuel while taking in the sights of the spectacular disused viaduct.
From Pensford I continued towards Bath, but by this point I was struggling. I reached Bath on 50 miles and decided to call out my cycling support team to take me home. Fortunately my ‘team’, i.e. my understanding wife, was kind enough to drive over to Bath with water, chocolate, and various other supplies and take my exhausted body home.
Yesterday I set out to conquer the route and returned to Bristol victorious. I cycled 60 miles in under 4 hours (thanks to a well planned selection of carbohydrate gels, flapjacks and lots of water) and this should hopefully stand me in good stead for the Blenheim Sportive in two weeks time. Unfortunately I also covered a few miles in the car this week – I drove to the South Coast for a tender interview for a new construction project I will run if we win the tender. This could potentially destroy any hope of the bike recovering the mileage deficit ……