Erratic, Spontaneous Training – Why Not to Do It

In June I am supposed to be cycle touring.  Two days ago I was undecided upon my route.  Today, wiped and shattered, I am fairly sure which roads to follow – the short and uncomplicated ones.

My training this year has consisted of 10 mile commuting cycles three days a week and then a 175 mile ride to the Isle of Wight at Easter.  This is not the smooth, double peaking training programme I recommend on my website, but I thought it should definitely have two peaks.  So, I booked in at very short notice to the Surf and Turf 400 audax ride out of Newton Abbot on Saturday.

The Surf and Turf 400 route consisted of a straggling loop along the north coast of Cornwall to Polzeath and back across country to Newton Abbot at roughly 300km and then a bonus loop of 100km.  The weather was wet.  Very wet.  By the time I reached Polzeath I was extremely cold, shivering uncontrollably.   I decided not to linger at the control and carried on.  The 20% climb from the beach helped warm me, as did the frequent climbs thereafter (and before) but on every descent the chill reclaimed me.  By the time I had reached Launceston and plunged down to the old A30 I had endured enough.  I decided I would not be doing the extra 100km loop – 300km was it for me.  The trouble was I still had about 90 km to go.  And it was nearly dark.

Felt like this!

I will not go into details about the misery of the next 4 or so hours.  I will definitely not go into details about my urgent bowel evacuation following downing a certain drink that provides you with modified forelimbs that bears large feathers and are used for flying.   I will be positive and say that the rain stopped and I warmed up a bit.  And by 01:00 yesterday I was safely tucked up in bed feeling sorry for the people still chugging around the bonus loop – the ride was a qualifier for Paris-Brest-Paris and had to be completed by some, despite the allure of a car home at the 300km point.

My training profile now has its two peaks.  I am unlikely to do any more training, other than my usual commuting, before my tour in June.  With that in mind the thought of 1,500 miles or so to complete a tour through every county in England is not appealing and would probably be foolhardy. In my current state of exhaustion the idea of planning a trip onto foreign soil is not pressing the right buttons, so Roscoff – Santander is on the back burner.  That leaves me with Lowestoft to St David’s, via London.

A quick look on Google Maps suggests a trip of about 450 miles.  If I get a train to the start and then cycle home from the end (300 miles or so) that will make a cycling tour of 750 miles.  If I allow Saturday for travel to Lowestoft and get back home on the following Sunday evening, that gives me 8 days cycling for a week’s leave from work.  I should be able to manage just over 90 miles a day. With the lack of training it might prove trickier than my previous LEJOG jaunts but hopefully do-able.

Of course, I should have followed my own advice viz training.  But life isn’t like that.  There is only so much time and for the past few months’ life priorities have been pointing in other directions.  I will have to set off and see what happens.  If physically I am unprepared, my psychological advantage is in knowing that I have cycled 100 miles a day for an 8 days period twice over the previous two years.  And getting the head right is half the battle.

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