Friday 6 February 2015

Pedalling ambition

Did I mention that I'm cycling to Paris in May?  I could have done it for charity, but there's only so many times you can ask people for money, so I'm self-funding.  For the same price I swear I could stay at the George V in Paris...I enjoy my long distant rides, and it has been in my head for a while that Paris would be a good place to cycle to.  I looked at it last year, but couldn't quite decide which organised group to go with so procrastination ruled it out in the end.  There are three routes you can do. Via Newhaven on the South Coast, but as I've ridden to Brighton more than once and the route is very similar I didn't fancy it, although it's the shortest ride. Via Portsmouth is another, but I've plumped to go Via Dover.  It's quite a long way round, and the real downside is that there are hills in Kent at the end of our first day, which is the longest day.  But what would life be without a challenge or two.  The net result is that even though the weather has been hideous I've been cycling.  I've had a couple of sessions round the cycling track at the Olympic Park which I've enjoyed immensely as I can switch off, put the headphones in and just pedal without fear of getting splatted by an HGV.  I cycled up to the downs in Sussex, and I've been cycling into London, and I'm beginning to see an improvement  in my fitness levels.

Worst ride to date was last weekend.  We went down to Beckenham in south London/Kent to visit The Cat's Mother's brother The Conductor who is suffering from a detached retina (ouch, yuk!), and I thought I would take the opportunity to cycle home.  In a straight line it's about 21 miles...a nice work out.  We shoved the bike in the back of the little Toyota Yaris (affectionately known as Le Taxi Yarees) and set off.  It was freezing cold, it was wet and just plain grim.  But The Cat's Mother said, as she drove off after the visit, "You can't wimp out now".  So I got on and started pedalling.  As it was raining I couldn't get my phone out, so couldn't read the map.  And I didn't know where I was. I'd had nothing to eat since breakfast either. I ended up heading south-east, before turning north and then turning west before eventually in more familiar territory turning north.  I've never subscribed to the north vs south London rivalry, but let me just say south London is sh*t.  No cycle lanes, no signs pointing you in the right direction and every vehicle seems to want to knock you off...I guess they don't see too many cyclists there.  The rain got worse and worse, and I got colder, wetter and more miserable.  By the time I was 5 miles from home, I could no longer feel my feet or ankles. At all.  This meant that when I was pedalling up that final steep hill and trying to put pressure and effort into it, I couldn't feel what was happening.  Still I did make it.  I'd covered just over 45km (only the Brits can use both miles and kms and get away with it!).  But worse was to come as the blood slowly returned to feet and ankles.  The pain was absolutely brought back grim memories of standing on the rugby field at school just freezing, freezing, freezing.  The result was a dash to the cycle shop on Monday to get a pair of these:

Waterproof and warming overboots.  Cycling in the cold has been transformed..