When I’m riding there are three things I hate more than anything; crap weather, hills and country roads. So if I told you this ride had all three it should give you an idea of what I thought of this ride!
I felt totally unprepared for this ride. I had done no training and getting my equipment ready consisted of chucking it all together into a corner, the night before. I woke at 6.30 to the sound of rain hitting glass. I really didn’t want to get out of bed, but as Em pointed out to me; “when you’re cycling to John O’Groats you’ll have to go out in rubbish weather.” Annoyingly this was one of those rare occasions when she was right. So a quick shower, a cup of tea and a bowl of muesli later, I was down stairs waiting for Ash.
Not long after we arrived, we ponced about like a pair of tarts taking forever to get ready and set off. It was nice to have some company with Ash along for the ride, I’ve not had an opportunity to ride with someone for long journeys before and the companionship certainly helped. For the first bit of the ride we were able to ride side by side down some b roads chatting and the miles went by pretty quickly. I know Ash really didn’t want to be out in the rain, so I really appreciate him giving up a rare day off he could have spent with his family to come along and drag my fat out of shape arse along a tough ride. He did it without complaining and I know he had to go slower than he would have liked so I could keep up. As we rode along the rain got worse and worse, it was chucking it down! But I didn’t mind to be honest. It was actually quite refreshing and stopped me getting too warm. What was less pleasant was the horse and cow poo all over the roads that would be sprayed all over me during the course of the ride! Still it’s good for the skin apparently! So we got to the first rest stop which was literally a table in the middle of no where! A quick top up of water and some biscuits and we were on are way.
The next part continued to be uneventful, although the weather closed in even more. I was soaked and cold, but we were still making good time. The country lanes and cycle paths were getting rather dull though and both Ash and I longed for some proper road. We rode along some really rough and dirt roads and it made it hard going in the rough conditions, me nearly coming off on one descent as I broke a bit to excitedly! Shortly after we came alongside a steam rail line, which gave a cool moment of riding alongside a steam train, the steam spewed out a nice warming feeling as I rode through it. Ash went on ahead at this point briefly as I struggled to keep up, He’s far fitter than me, and it’s a good benchmark to reach. I think he was also busting for a wee which made him move a bit quicker. Before long though I rode into the lunch stop. A couple of beef sarnies, water and energy top up and it was off again.
After lunch it started to get a bit tougher. It didn’t help that I seized up, and I’d only had a ten minute break! I was so annoyed with myself as I was really holding Ash back now. Thankfully he gave me a bit of a push and a few minutes of spinning and I was moving steady again. This is where the ride got a bit tougher and we got a few hills kicking in. They were steep but nothing unmanageable. I’m sure the scenary would have been lovely on a sunny hot day, but I was utterly fed up of the weather by now. Although the way we had gone the conditions were still very slippy, and I probably was a bit of a wuss on the descents! At this point Ash had gone ahead a tad, his lightweight bike and being about 40 stone lighter than me, meant he was flying around. I just couldn’t keep up as I was struggling on the climbs compared to him and wussing out on the descents. Then at the bottom of one I missed the sign of the route and made a three mile detour before I realised and corrected. Ash was now well and truly out of sight, so I pressed on by myself. I was doing pretty well and the climbs were fairly tough, but I was actually passing people. The weather actually got sunny for a while and then finally a normal road. However the last rest stop then came into sight. At this stop I didn’t want to keep Ash waiting knowing he was up ahead, so I topped up my water, had a Banana and kicked on.
The last part of the ride was horrid, it was all long boring lanes that seemed to go on forever, before I finally came into Avonmouth, and what a lovely place that is! Climbing the bridge was good fun though and gave way to a spectular view. A steep climb later and I hit the finish in just over 7 hours. I was fairly pleased with the time, the conditions were tough and not fun at all, but I kept going, and the experience will do me well for the may ride. Now it’s a few days of resting up, moving, a pub quiz, a rugby match and on to the Bath to Borunemouth Bike ride!