Sunday, June 08, 2008

Soh Tired

Yesterday we did the Tour of the Shires - from Walton in Lincs out towards our home in the Fenlands then up and back towards Bosworth and back to Walton. To be honest, I have no idea where I was or where I was going. I only knew I had to get back to my Vanu at the end of the day.

The tender for the job in London and not getting it exhausted me and depressed me so much I decided on Thursday to go to Woot Bass and get on with my plan to sell by tidying the gardens and inviting nosey estate agents to view and evaluate. The experience of gardening for six hours on a Thursday left me with very heavy legs (I also did a cracking ride on Wednesday night at the Hereward '10 - actually a very hilly 11.5 mile time trial).

On Friday I told TSK that I truly was looking forward to the 200km ride at the weekend but, with so much on, his job was to get me there and get me home again because I had no idea where I had to be and when or where I was going to be going. I could just about manage the riding bit myself.

It was a cold morning for June - 14 degrees - but I opted for the shorts over the 3/4 lengths never the less. About 30 cyclists set off from the village hall at 8 am and we basically rode like we were on another 10 mile TT, trying to keep up with the fast people at the front. As the aged and hardened Audaxers finally dropped me on about the 10th climb (way-to-go I am improving!), we hopped on the back of various groups catching us and passing us.

After 50km and approaching the first check point, I regretted the shorts as the temperature dropped to 13 and the rain began but we were approaching a pub so I can't complain... until we found out that food was restricted to a choice of ham, cheese or chicken sandwiches (plain white bread and butter, no extras) and the only member of staff was making each plate to order. I joined a short queue and felt sorry for the people behind us (YES! This time there were people behind us!!).

When we left the control the rain had slowed to a steady drizzle which kept us reasonably cool on the lessening (but by no means disappearing) climbs through parkland, rolling hills and forested areas. Some of the roads degenerated into wonderful meandering lanes that narrowed to the width of one car and in some places, grass was growing in a strip down the centre - giving us the confidence to ride long distances side by side. I didn't realise there were such places of loveliness in Lincs and Northants and so open! Where in Kent or Cheshire, villages would have appeared, there was little to be found for miles on this route until finally the second checkpoint.

The rain had ceased so we hung our coats on the back of chairs and snuggled into blankets to dry off our bums and feast on a shared plate of chips and carrot cake (each). Outside, the public passed by on foot, taking their Saturday walks along the canal bank and taking the time to admire the stacks of shiny bikes parked willy-nilly on the lawn of the caf A couple wanted to know where we had been and where we were going to and I was forced to admit I didn't have a clue. This Audaxing lark is not as simple as something like the London-to-Brighton.

Benefits of the last few weeks racing around the lanes of Cambridgeshire started to show as I looked at my 'pooter with 137km on the clock and concluded that the last 70km "wasn't far" and "at this rate, we'll be back by 5pm". TSK pointed out that this didn't allow for degradation in speed (despite the good weather and flattening terrain) or that we would be stopping a few more times before the night was out.

The third checkpoint was at a wonderful farm shop. The only bad thing about it was that it was half-way down the side of a valley. At the 150km point, it's never good to know you're either going to have to go back up the hill you just came down or, worse, continue to the bottom of the valley then climb back out. After getting overly-excited in our delirium over pottery hedgehogs clutching "Welcome" signs and fluffy kitten toys and a twee hanging basket bracket with a cat on it, we tucked into yet more cake and a pot of tea. The chap who arrived after us sent back a cup and saucer that had been provided in excess of his requirements - a pot-of-tea-for-two... for one please.

Thankfully, finally (for my Audax career) the weather stayed fine. I, unfortunately, didn't. The climbs just kept coming and I just kept getting slower. My gears are quite high on Red (she lacks a small "granny" chainring) and eventually my left knee made a stinging, stabbing pain which lingered momentarily as I gasped for the air to fill whatever space I had vacated of air with the initial hissy-scream. I found myself cycling through the most remarkable parkland area on a 1% climb doing 8km/hr and mostly pushing with my right leg. It was time to a) suck it up and get on with it and b) eat chemicals. An energy-goo snot-in-a-bag type Banana "flavoured" intake was insufficient so I popped about 5 dextrose tabs which seemed to do the trick and I coped with sweating out sugar for the rest of the day.

Only info-checks to do.

Initially confusion over "The flower-related shop name on the right, before the left turn in to Newlands".

In our tired state, this was translated into, "The flowershop name on the left turn into Newlands".

With only a shoe-shop on the right, called "Daisy Roots", we asked a passer-by where the flower shop was. Happy to help, the lady misinterpreted my question as a need to buy flowers.

Unable to find the words (or the time) to describe what we were really up to, I opted for, "We're on a treasure hunt and the clue doesn't make sense".

Thankfully, before any embarrassment, TSK figured out the truth behind the clue and we were back on track.

Finally at 8pm, 12 hours after our start time, we rolled back into the village-hall carpark, our aching knees screaming out for tea. For someone who dislikes Sandwiches, I took immense pleasure in demolishing a white roll with grated cheese, some onions and smoky bacon crisps. To the extent that I even considered making my own lunch for work on Monday. I ate too much maltloaf and too many Jaffa Cakes and then we stopped for chips on the way home - both of us eating the fishcake and about 10 chips before giving up on forcing any more into our deflated bellies.

But finally, an event we could go to and come back from in one day. We got the washing on and went to our local caf for breakfast this morning. With a head tired and yet clear from a day of blowing away the cobwebs I can see a way forward... today, tomorrow (estate agents) and into next month. This job or any other job, I have decided there will be three elements to it:

TSK (as always)
Having a home (because for all that I've made money out of my house, there's nowt like having a home)
The bikes (because they make me feel better and for all that I'm a cyclist, I should start behaving like one)
On with life.

1 comment:

Just a Girl said...

My butt aches after reading that.