Actually this isn’t a Sunday Fun Ride – partly because it wasn’t that fun in the end, and partly because I did it yesterday!
I’ve been repeating the same 28-mile route that I’ve blogged about before. It’s fairly straightforward, it’s a nice length that I’m comfortable with, and it lets me compare my times to see how I’m progressing. And yesterday’s ride started off much the same as it usually does. The first three mile stretch is both the start of this route and my commute to the office, so it’s nice to leave the house and pretty much just ride on autopilot while my brain wakes up and my legs loosen. After that, it’s a quick dice over the M4 and then out into the Wiltshire countryside towards Wroughton.
However, by the time I got back over the motorway and back into Swindon, my energy started to drop off quite quickly and by the time I’d winched myself up Piper’s Way I was wishing I’d brought some chocolate with me. Nevertheless I persevered. The “real” beginning of the end came when I got to Greenbridge and realised that between the tinted lenses in my sunglasses, the impending ominous clouds and my lack of lights meant that I probably couldn’t get around the full 28 miles before the light ran out. Disappointed (but secretly a little thankful) I turned back and headed on a more direct route home, trimming just over ten miles off the route and getting home in a smidge over 70 minutes overall.
Of course, sod’s law meant that as soon as I’d got home and took my bike shoes off the clouds cleared a little and the sun came back out. Naturally after a ten minute sit-down I was completely grief-ridden (haha!) and so I really had no choice. Shoes back on, water bottle refilled, and back out on the road.
And just like having a few beers, switching to soft drinks and then starting on the booze again it’s never as good as the first time. Stiff empty legs, and a complete inability to climb even the slightest incline left me complaining under my breath, a mood which wasn’t helped by getting utterly scalped by some shaven-legged roadie probably twice my age and twice as fit on the run from the M4 into Wroughton.
Despite my crappness as climbing hills on a bike, Piper’s Way isn’t actually that steep and I can usually get up it in one go quite easily. Not so the second time around. It might as well have been the Col du Swindon. Almost straight away I found myself desperate for lower gears than I had, I was barely beating walking pace and my legs were screaming for mercy. And by the time I got to Coate Water I would have quite happily stopped rather than climb up through Dorcan to Greenbridge. But I persevered, and once I got to Greenbridge for the second time I knew that it was almost all downhill from there to home. Phew!
Even knowing that my Cateye Velo computer paused the clock when I stopped to catch my breath a couple of times on the second lap, I was surprised that I was only ten minutes slower the second go than the first. Not bad considering how broken I felt! But it was really good to have improved on my “big ride” mileage by a couple of miles. Total summary:
Lap 1: 16.69 miles in 1:10.46 (14.15 mph)
Lap 2: 16.70 miles in 1:22.20 (12.17 mph)
Overall: 33.39 miles in 2:32.66 (13.08 mph)