Friday, July 21, 2017

Last Big Ride before the Biggie!

I haven’t written about this week’s ride yet.  It was… bloody… brilliant.  The previous week was an exhausting effort, following which I could hardly stand up, never mind do the brick run I had planned – no matter how short a distance.  Part of the problem of course is I hadn’t planned it so it wasn’t an easy undertaking.  Instead of jumping into waiting running shoes, I had flopped into the bath. 
Last weekend I was determined to do my brick run to prove to myself that this running after 3500m of up is even doable.  I recognised that to achieve it I would need to be disciplined and not get caught up in any competitive nonsense with other people.  Instead I had to ride like I was riacing an Ironman and keep something in the bag.

I left home a little bit late because it kept raining.  I eventually committed to a rain coat but left in the damp cool air although relatively rain-free.  I was already bargaining with myself but managed to find the enthusiasm to climb straight back up out of the Rivelin on Hagg Hill, all the way up to the top of Lodge Moor, before diving back into the Mayfield Valley, only to surface again at the Norfolk arms and then I turned out to the Peak. 

I’ll never bore of the road down from Burbage across the front of Stanage and down through the woodlands to Bamford.  A quick switch across the main road then puts me onto the Thornhill Road to Hope without seeing another person this time. 

AND this time the café was open and I actually took the time to eat something before tackling any more climbing.  It was a perfect moment indoors, just settling myself before the next climb ahead.  My only mistake was to eat soup although I did have a chocolate tiffin just to make the time pass a little slower and fill up my belly a little deeper. 

The Edale Road was so much better without noobies to get in my way.  Three lads passed me and I didn’t take up the challenge but did ride past them again when they stopped for a puncture.  They passed me back on the climb up Mam Nick and then I passed them back over the top as the front two stopped to wait for their mate. 
This time there was no debate in my mind about getting extra hill climbing out of Pindale.  I was going to do a distance ride and collect what ever hill climbing happened to come out of it.  I also didn’t want to bash my bits on the offroad section so I could do that brick run.  I turned right instead of left.

I flew by onto the No Car Café road which I covered in its entirety without being caght by the chasing group, despite listening to their incessant chattering all the way along.  At the lights they stopped to chat and decided to ride with me for a little longer although I managed to shoehorn it in there that I was doing a big loop around Buxton and not heading straight home.

Eventually they turned off and I took the road back down to Peak Dale and across onto my new favourite climb – Coombs.  I don’t usually like to repeat routes but I’ve grown so fond of this one during my time training to Alpe d’Huez and it has been particularly rewarding to mould this route into the climbeyest one possible.

Near the top of the climb, I heard a car engine approaching but without menace.  I rode as sturdily and quickly (not very) as I could then pulled over to let the car pass.  A resounding applause and cheering raised from inside the car – mother and daughter shouting encouragement out the window at me as I climbed the hill.  I rode a little faster.

They turned right – the only legitimate route for cars.  I turned left and, scattering a duke of Edinburgh group, rolled along the only bit of off road for today.  It wasn’t much but the extra moisture from the earlier rain left me wondering just whether my road tyres would hold.  Thankfully they did and I made it to the top in one piece. 

Cue the crossing to the Goyt Valley and Errwood Reservoir. After the 18% descent and all the other riding I’d done I felt a little sketchy but I was strong and rode straight past the ice cream van this time.  The valley was pure bliss and I was passed by only one car and one rider who surged past me and on into the rest of his 60’s.
Over the Cat n Fiddle road and dropping down Axe Edge back onto familiar territory and into Miller’s Dale.
This time I remembered to take the turning up the hill to climb back out of the Dale instead of getting stuck on a hill climb on the main road.  It was a pleasure to be away from the traffic but it was also a bugger of a hill.  Thankfully shaded, it shot up a 1:4 for 100m before easing off into two switchbacks which kicked me out on the flat moor.  I eventually dropped back down to Tideswell before, much to my dismay, climbing straight back up the hill again (same one I did last week now) and regaining the moor. 

I then dropped back down into Bradwell where I considered ice cream but continued regardless into the Hope Valley.  Main roads weren’t appealing again, particularly since there were traffic lights holding traffic up so I retraced my steps through Thornhill and climbed up to the Bamford Road where I instantly felt completely exhausted.  Ah, the bonk.

I nearly rode past the Yorkshire Bridge Inn, thinking it to be too posh for sweaty cyclists but as I rode by the beer garden I realised the opposite was true and retraced my steps to lock up and wobble to the bar which wasn’t far.  I got a bench to myself for my pint of coke and waited patiently but not for too long for my baked potato.  Oh the saviour of baked potato!
It was a little worrying that I was that wasted when I arrived at the pub – I’d drunk more this time, even though it was cooler but I had dressed warm in my rain coat so had probably sweated just as much (good practice for hot riding).  It really was the calories and I need to be mindful to plan them properly on raceday.

Feeling fully fuelled, I found the energy to climb back over the A57 in one piece and actually with some grace.  As I watched the hill climb rise above 2670m, I realised there was a remote chance that I’d get somewhere closer to 3000m than I’d ever imagined. I threw the bike up to Rodside and rode the steep climb there without incident before enjoying the descent all the way back to Stannington.  There’s a short climb there before the drop to the bottom of the Rivelin Valley.  2800m on the clock!
By the time I rocked into the house I was actually fucking fine!

This time I’d planned my run.  I walked into the lounge, stripped all soggy wet cycling clothes into a heap on the sofa and somehow struggled my sweaty body into my running kit (I was determined to give running in skins a go since they’d done such a great job on the Kielder Ironman). 

I told TSK I’d be an hour – I felt OK.  Then I qualified it and said I might be half an hour – giving myself an out if I felt rubbish.  I’d just do 10k and maybe 5 if I felt bad.

I ran out the door.  I ran up the hill.  I ran along the rough path, I just kept running except for a tiny stretch of steep.  I ran all the way to the stairs above the A57 then descended to the bottom of the valley and retraced all the way along the bottom of the valley to the bridge near my house.  I even jogged part way up until I declared it silly and then walked.  It wasn’t quite 10km but I don’t quite care.  I’d proved to myself that I can ride 83 miles and climb a shit load and then go for a run which kind of feels OK.

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