Friday, 29 March 2013

Longest bike ride of the year so far

Good Friday and it's not raining so determined to take advantage of an extra day off, we set out for Stowe, which is 24 miles away.   I didn't blog about it at the time, but we went there on New Year's Day.  On that day, we had an excellent tail wind, which meant that we made very good time, but we got lost trying to get in and ended up on a 2 mile trek through very muddy grounds with our bike.  On leaving, Mr Tuna gaily declared that he thought the wind was with us.  It wasn't.  We struggled back and I got slower and slower, eventually having to stop because it had got too dark to see.

Today, the forecast was for a NE wind, so as Stowe is in the NE direction, I was hoping for the reverse situation.  And it was!  Unfortunately, my legs felt like lead for the first few miles and the wind didn't help.  I was really questioning my ability to get there and wondered about turning around and having my hot cross bun at home.  We managed to push on and covered the 24 miles (without diversion this time) in 2h10 which was reasonable.  There are many pretty villages on the way so it is quite pleasant, not so pleasant is the traffic around Bicester due to the hordes visiting Bicester Village on a Bank Holiday (it was even more horrid on the way back).

Reasonable cafe at Stowe, where I was able to pick up some gf cake, although I chose to eat my gf hot cross bun that I'd bought with me.  Mr Tuna had a sandwich and some simnel cake (which was fortunately "not as nice as yours darling").

On the way back, I got VERY cold whilst we sorted out the bikes to leave (unlock, refit panniers, Mr Tuna change shoes...), so it was hard pedalling all the way back (I was wearing 2 thermal under armour long sleeved tops, a short sleeved jersey, my windproof jacket and Mr Tuna's windproof jacket - the bit of me that was most cold was the bit where the tops stopped down to where my legwarmers started.  Anyone got any ideas on how to keep bum and upper thighs warm please?).  Anyway, we did have the wind with us and we made excellent progress until my trainer lace got caught up in my chain and I fell off (sigh, not even a cool way of falling off, and yes, I know, I have got to get clipless, but maybe when the weather warms up?), which led to a bruised knee and 5 minutes of tears at the side of the road and trying to blame it on Mr Tuna (I don't know what it is, but after 40 miles I almost always burst into tears, sadly doing rides of less than 40 miles is not an option when I'm training for a 70.3).  Shortly after this, Mr Tuna got cramp.  However, we did get back in 2h5 so not bad, 4h15 for 49 miles.

The trouble with cycling is that I feel a lot of pressure on me at the moment as the cycling component of my 70.3 is a very big challenge for me.  I probably wouldn't have gone out in the extreme cold today had it not been for the need to get miles in, and I get cross and grumpy and tearful trying to push myself through.  I know that completing the 70.3 will be a big reward, as will raising money for Mind again, but I have to say a little bit of me is looking forward to 2014 with swimming as the top priority and cycling as an optional extra when the sun is shining and it's warm!


  1. Bella you are doing great. Get out on the bike whenever you can and slowly build up to it. Also if you have a turbo slowly increase the time you spend in the saddle. Every little bit helps. :)
    Keep smiling.

  2. I too did my longest ride in 2 years, 102km all in the Surrey Hills. It was great but my glutes kept ceasing up on me. More physio required and more time in saddle to get stronger. :) See you Monday, I shall be marshalling and cheering you on, I will make sure V Gill introduces us :)

  3. Miles are miles, and you logged 'em! As you know, some workouts are tougher than others, so just think of this as a "character-building" ride--it will pay off on race day when you can draw on this experience and *know* you finished!

  4. Well done for pushing on and I don't blame you putting off the clips thing, they always seem to me to be the most terrifying bit of cycling (mind you, this comes from someone who can only ride in a slow circle then fall off sideways). I wonder if the 40 miles thing is a fuelling thing, a bit like the marathon wall - does it happen with and without a food break around 24? Anyway well done on a good session!


  5. I live in a very windy part of Texas, and when it's bitterly cold as well, it's tough. You asked about how to keep your upper thighs and bum warm when you're in the cold. When I was a broke college student, what worked for me (and was very cheap) was folding a few pages of newspaper down each leg so it covered the area from my hips to my knees. (Don't bend it around yr knees as it might get sweaty and it can rub.) If you do that for both legs, that can help enormously. It's a one-time use though but if you have newspapers available, that's helpful. If you have more money, you could get something Gortex-y and I have bought some arm warmers and leg warmers which can help. The leg warmers are not like the kind that Flashdance used: these are thicker Goretx type with a rubberized outside to repel wind and rain. The backside is just normal fabric so your skin can breathe. The same for the arm warmers as well, just FYI.

    Good job on your working out. I grew up in UK and well remember the dark(er) mornings and afternoons and nights when I needed to go to swim training and would have given anything to stay in bed for five more minutes. :-)

  6. Hi Lemonhead, I think it's the first time you've commented, so thank you for stopping by! Newspaper is an interesting one and certainly economical. I do already have legwarmers which I wear over my tights, I think it is my bottom that is getting the coldest!

    Luckily the mornings are drawing out a bit now so it should be downhill from now until September, would just be nice if the weather warmed up a bit!

  7. Hmm. Sorry - not sure how to fix the cold bottom thing. Perhaps eat more and get more padding? :-) On a more serious note, is it the back of your bum which gets cold? Cos newspaper folded and put in there (although slightly weird) is always effective. Might not work so well if you're sweating, but worth a try... Or shoving a gortex shirt down the back of your shorts? Or getting a windproof jacket that has a longer back than it does in the front? (I have one of these and they're magic.)