being a mileage addict at the moment, i headed off on sunday for a leisurely 90km cycle. joined by training peep Paul the PT, ready to embrace the cold English winter morning.
sure i've been on long cycles before, done my fair share of cycling trips, so i wasn't too concerned about the distance. the plan was to cycle slowly, and consistently. no breaks. just get some good solid miles under the belt.
this was harder than i had anticipated.
90kms is a LONG way. i know that sounds a bit stupid, but until you pedal those little peggies up and down for the whole distance, it's impossible to have an understanding exactly how far it is. i've been scoffing a little at the prospect of a 180km ironman cycle, now i GET IT. it's a LONG WAY. having said that, i still only know how far 90kms is. that is only a half ironman my friends.
for the ironman; let's face it; i've got no idea how far 180kms is. no frigging idea.
180kms inside a nice warm toasty car with snacks offers absolutely no insight into how far this is. train trips glancing at magazines will not do it either. looking at a map; ha! until your pegs have crossed the distance, you're in the dark.
i started off well. totally optimistic. nice comfortable pace, not breaking a sweat. 60kms down, however, i got hungry. unfortunately i'd completely underestimated the availability of snacks in the english countryside, and not only did i get hungry; i started to get delirious (okay, i don't deal with hunger very well at all).
i remember going up a hill, and seeing my cycle computer register 11 kph and thinking, "damn, i'm about to faint, but i'm doing well." i was so low i thought about hitchhiking. with bike. sorry mum.
training peep couldn't deal with my lacking energy and scooted off in the search for food. i got to the top of one too many hills and spotted my lifeline; a petrol station. JOY! SNACKS! ENERGY!
but it was closed. bloody CLOSED. couldn't believe it.
i lay on the forecourt and stared up at the sky, wondering why i was doing this again. weirdly, i notcied the name of the petrol station was this:
and i thought, damn you for giving me this message. so off we went. found snacks, and got over ourselves.
but it wasn't easy. those last 30kms were the most painful on my quads that i've ever felt while cycling, and i had to learn quickly to fall into the rhythm of the pain. it's weird how pain becomes comforting after a while. it becomes normal. you get on with it.
i'm not sure why my quads were so bad. was it the distance alone? the increase in my running mileage in the past few weeks? the lack of food?
other than the pain/starvation situation; there was a lot of joy. we passed a river crossing and it was the first time Paul had ever seen this! (pic below) we have a lot of these in australia, but it was strange trying to explain why the water didn't go under the road inside of over. i'm sure i made some useless inaccurate fact up.
so what have i learnt?
> do NOT embark on a 90km cycle without food. like, hello. 101 peoples.
> do NOT underestimate how far 180kms is ever again. could you have turned around and done that same distance again? no. so respect that.
could you have then run a marathon? HELL no.
so hats of ironmen and ladies reading this. finally, i get it. hats off.