Sometimes, when you’re chasing big miles, things can get a bit out of kilter, such as remembering what normal feels like. Autopilot when “you’re totally on it” is on a different planet from manual pilot when things ain’t going so well.
It would have been nice to acknowledge September (Go Gold month) with an attack on the kind of miles (4×300) that I whacked in two years ago when I started training in earnest for the Ride2Cure across Oz.
But this ain’t then.
The first week was good enough, and that brought up the 10×250. But then we went to Ireland on holiday and both Jane and I picked up a virus on our return. If I’m honest, I’ve been floored for the past ten days. And in the middle of that, last Sunday to be precise, we had a 700 mile driving round trip to Rugby to cheer on Ross in his qualifier to become Mr Creosote 2019. When I got back in off the bike at 4:30am on Sunday morning and Jane was barking like a dog with a wee squeaky voice, I said “do you think we should still go?” We went, and he won. The boy’s now through to the British Creosote Championships (70kg division). But I’ve been knackered all week: I slept for nine hours one night: I never sleep for nine hours.
Drastic measures were required. I’ve chopped (at least) ten to fifteen miles from the daily gig, which roughly speaking means two hours on the road instead of three. The upside of that is that it has solved, at a stroke, the injury issues that plagued the week before last. An hour’s virtual rest every day makes a hell of a difference at the leading edge of the cliff. The downside is that September is struggling to make 800 miles but hey, shit happens. At least I’m still 89 stages on the road and not a single day missed. And I’m through 3000 miles ahead of whatever schedule you care to mention.
But to keep that record intact, I had to be a wee bit creative last weekend. Because we’d to be away at 6am latest for Ross’s gig, bagging any miles at all on Sunday was always going to be a challenge. Cue being totally out of it, asleep in the chair at 8 o’clock on Saturday night, courtesy of the lurgi. I went to bed at half eight… Remember how I said I never sleep for nine hours? Ping! I woke at half one, felt as fresh as a daisy and thought “feck this lying here thinking I should be asleep nonsense, let’s get some miles done”. So at 2:30am, I left R2C2 HQ and bagged masel’ two and a half hours on main roads with feck all traffic about. And yes, I did have my Christmas tree lights on on the bike. Back in the LCFN days, folk used to wind their windows down as they went past on the A77 and tell me that they thought I was the polis from half a mile away.
It was that Sunday morning gig that got me back on the KOTP trail (KOTP is King Of The Pensioners). There are some stretches of road that I generally never cycle cos they’re just too feckin’ dangerous in the day, but at night, lit up like a polis, you’re basically as safe as houses. And a couple of those roads have been recently resurfaced so I had some REAL fun. Until you’ve done it, you cannot begine to appreciate the exhilaration of piling it on at 25-30mph in the dark with just your 1200 lumen searchlight to keep you safe from potholes. I loved that session so much that I strongly suspect that the dark side may well return once the farmers have done their dirty deed.
If you never ride a bike, you’ll not be able to appreciate the dangers of this time of year. The crops are in, the silage has been prepared and the muck spreading has been done so the farmers have some time on their hands: “I know, let’s cut the hedges.” At least 50% of my (normal) routes are out of commission because of cut hedges. Even on days when you think you’re on a thorn free run, you take a left and there’s the feckin’ farmer trundling along at two miles an hour with bits of hedge flying all over the road! While that caper’s going on, night riding’s totally out of the question.
I mentioned last week that I’d been into HMP Shotts to present the LCFN/Ride2Cure story to the prisoners. Well now that gig has moved on. I have a date, October 24th, when I’m going in to cycle 8 hours from 8am to 4pm with every one of the prisoner groups in support of Solving Kids Cancer. The prison gym has nine spin bikes and I’m taking one for an all day attack on a hundred miles. I haven’t been on a spin bike since I rode fifty miles with Mark Beaumont five years ago at 3am during his attempt on the world 24 hour record. The focus at Shotts will be to try and energise every prisoner group into believing, long term, that they can make a difference by having a personal goal. In the six years that I’ve been doing this thing, this is the first time that I’ve actually felt that I might be able to inspire some other cyclists into coming onboard. I’m guessing that there might be as many as thirty guys taking part on the day, and to be honest, if I only get into the brains of three or four of them as a long term gig, I’ll reckon to have done a good job. And I’m also looking to make this a regular gig if they’ll have me: when you cycle three hours a day in shit weather, it’s actually quite nice to have an alternative gig that you know is (potentially) making a difference to a whole lot of people.
So, at the end of a week that has clocked up another half a dozen KOTP’s in the name of Ride2Cure Neuroblastoma, albeit on reduced miles that allowed me the licence to go a little mad, the miles might be down but the show in 100% still on the road.