On Saturday I set off on my final training ride before the start of my LEJOG at the beginning of June, now only 2 weeks away.
I let Google chose my route between Ivybridge – Barnstaple – Tiverton – Ivybridge. It was interesting. I went on many roads I had never cycled before. And a few rough rocky paths I never want to cycle again. At one point the route had me pedalling across open moorland, through shallow rocky streams and thick but thankfully largely dry mud.
I went awry between Lydford and Okehampton, believing the route followed the Granite Way. I took my eye off the ball and only realised in Okehampton that my route didn’t go there. Rather than retrace my tyre tracks I took an audax route for the Old Roads 300 which I have ridden a couple of times in the past. However, not wanting to add extra miles to the trip I decided not to go all the way to Barnstaple but to nip the corner off the route. This led to a lot of ad lib routing and an endless succession of 15-20% hills. At one point I rounded a corner to see a 33% gradient warning sign staring at me with a grin on its face. Fortunately I turned just before it onto a much gentler 20% slope.
The day was hot, with temperatures off the tarmac at about 27 C and there were not enough shops so I managed to get dehydrated a couple of times and by the end I was felling much like I did on the final day of my LEJOG last year.
Nearly a week later I am still feeling energy-less, which is not a good sign. However, the lack of recovery could be due to hayfever, from which I am suffering badly. When planning I had forgotten that I suffer a lot for hayfever, being at its worst in June!
Whilst not boosting my confidence that I am fit enough to ride LEJOG without a lot of suffering it has shown me that I can manage 145 miles over hillier terrain than any day I will face in the ride. It has also proved that my new bike is capable of tackling worse off road paths than I encountered last time around. The slick 23mm tyres held up without punctures and I am tempted to leave them on to prove the route can be ridden on a true road bike set up.
The ride also highlighted a problem with my sat nav set up. The battery lasts about 8-10 hours at best so for longer rides I carry an external battery on the bike, attached to the sat nav by usb cable. This arrangement will give up to 40 hours of continuous use. However, when I came to fit the cable to the sat nav there was not enough space between the unit and the handlebars on my new bike for the cable to attach. I have now purchased, at great expense, a special cable with a right-angle head that fits snugly in the gap. I would have been stuck if I had only found out the day before the ride though. Always a good idea to have a test ride!
So to summarise: great to show I can cycle longer and harder than I will need to for any individual day but a little worrying that I am still feeling drained of energy.