Building up the miles

This week I did my longest ride and I also went out for my first ride on my own.

The 37 miler

On Tuesday, I went out with Woody and the Novo Swindon Wheelers. Woody and I left Highworth at 5.45 pm and cycled to Kingsdown via Stanton where we met up with some more riders. From there we cycled back to the Freke to meet the rest of the group. There were 11 of us in all including three of us who hadn’t really been out in a group before and I was pretty anxious. By the time we got back to the Freke, we had already done over 8 miles and I was already feeling pooped. Justin (my husband who now has a bike) was supposed to be joining us. However, it became evident that he was back from work late and therefore wouldn’t make it.

We set off (me with a wobble). Although I had asked Woody about the pace of the ride, which he had said would average about 13mph and would be generally around 15, we were going at around 17 mph. It soon became evident that I was a lot slower than others both up and downhill. However, it was a very pleasant evening and I was doing OK at keeping up on the flat. It was weird as my energy seemed to wax and wane. At some points I would feel pretty on top of it and at others, I felt knackered – even to the extent that Woody had to give me a push to rejoin the main group at one point.

The group was lovely, very supportive, and encouraging. We did the usual loop out into the Cotswolds – through lovely towns and countryside and lanes. It was pretty gorgeous.

I was the slowest by far coming back up the hills out of Castle Eaton. I hope that I get better at hills because I am pretty sure the other girls are faster than me too. Hill training is required!

The extra bit

On returning to the Freke, we said goodbye to many of the others as they headed back into Swindon. Woody and I along with a couple of others headed up the hill into Highworth. By this time, we had done 32 miles. Although I was exhausted and my back was hurting, I was aware of the need to push myself and get miles in my legs. So when Woody asked if I fancied doing the Frezden loop and adding on another 5 miles, I said yes.

The last 5 miles were not the quickest however; it did mean that the ride was 37 miles in total. I also got to practice standing up and peddling uphill.

I was overjoyed to get home and I hadn’t realised how late it was. We ate dinner at gone 9 pm and I went to bed pretty sharpish.

Here is a reply of the ride (not in real-time).

My first solo ride

Head shot of Alice wearing a cycling helmetDue to work, my dad visiting, and going off to Portugal on Friday afternoon, I would have little opportunity to get out on my bike. I therefore decided I needed to bite the bullet and go out for a ride on Friday morning. On my own. For the first time!

I was on the road by 6.45 am. It was a lovely Spring morning. The sun was out and although there was a nip in the air, it was very pleasant. The most daunting part of the ride was turning right at the Freke. The Highworth to Blunsdon road is pretty busy and although it was early, I became aware as I approached the junction that there was a car behind me. I signalled and pulled over to the right. As soon as I did, it seemed the whole world and his dog were coming the other way. I had to wait for what felt like ages for a gap to be able to go. While I waited, I turned and gave the car(s) behind me a little thank you before I set off.

My route consisted of a little 20-mile loop taking me around Fairford Airfield. I am still pretty wobbly when I take a hand off the handlebars or when turning to see if there is anything behind so I was a bit anxious for the whole ride. In hindsight, I was so glad that I went, and it was pretty enjoyable. I do think I prefer being out with someone else though.

One thing I realised is that the wind really does make a difference on your own – especially when it is against you all the way back up the hills from Castle Eaton.

A little gripe

I do find the whole cycling thing very daunting and pretty terrifying. Everything scares me – my feet being clipped, other cyclists, the cars, their drivers, the potholes, and so on. Although it seems pretty tame, I think it is quite a dangerous sport. You are going along fast roads, exposed to the elements wearing a little bit of Lycra and a polystyrene helmet! And some cars! My god, some of the drivers: if I put my arm out I could touch them.

Some are very thoughtful and cautious, and will not pass until it is safe to do so. Others will pass as quickly as possible, diverting their path as little as possible. Can I just remind anyone who drives that I am not an obstacle or an object? I am a sister, a wife, a daughter, and an auntie: a person. Please pass me like you would pass a car. Give me space, make sure it is safe. If I am confronted by a huge pothole while you are passing me within inches, I would be stuck between, well a pothole and a car! Think!!!!!

My challenge this week is to do 100 miles (not all in one go).

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