April is nearly over, which means another month done and another challenge down! Only 9 more to go in my big year.
This month I attempted to use pedal power to get me home. Cycling 250 miles in 2 days from London to Leyland.
I say attempted because my hands stopped working on the second day – not being able to grip the brakes or change gears, it wasn’t safe when I still had to go up and over Rivington. So my pedal power got me 223 miles in 2 days from London to…nearly home.
This challenge was never one I was particularly worried about. After completing RAB last year, I knew my legs (and brain) could do those sort of distances over 2 days and Mallorca had quickly given me my cycling legs back!
But RAB was an organised event, it was group riding, with lots of company and camaraderie around you. It was set food stops so you knew you had to get to a certain mile marker before you took a break. Little did I know the value those food stops were when cycling unsupported big distances.
My challenge was far from that. It was me and Sam taking on the distance solo. I was so grateful for his company and guidance (and bag carrying powers!) because I could not have done it on my own.
The best road mate a girl could ask for!
Saying day 1 was hard was an understatement. I felt like I was flying out of London, a combination of being well fed, adrenaline and excitement fuelling my legs to push forward. But it started to tail off around mile 70 when I realised there were still over 50 miles til the finish.
I’d completely cocked up my fuelling. Underfed and dehydrated my brain gave up and it was a struggle to keep my eyes open. I dragged myself to the finish and switched off after that.
Day 2 dawned too early and I wasn’t looking forward to the day ahead. Rain was forecast, my legs were sore and my knee had agonising shooting pains through every step.
But the quiet voice in my head reminded me that “you didn’t come this far to only come this far”. Call it determination, stubbornness or not wanting to let anyone down but I made each reason to not ride either bearable or no longer an excuse.
The knee was deep freezed and taped. My tummy was full of food and coffee. I was layered up with my waterproof coat and gloves. And I had a strict eating plan: a haribo and water every 5 miles, a bar or something more substantial every 15.
Day 2 was amazing. Despite the cold and the rain – I felt great! My legs forgot their aches, my brain that normally hates riding in the rain accepted the situation and rode on, my body was happy and fuelled up. It was all going so well! Until the 40 miles of rain became torrential, and my hands got so cold they stopped functioning and that was the end of that.
With just 23 miles to go I had to stop, better safe than sorry! But I wasn’t disappointed or upset. I was proud – proud of the fact that I had learned from all my errors and mistakes on day 1, that despite not wanting to start day 2 I didn’t let my negative thoughts about the day ahead get the better of me.
I’d nearly cycled all the way home – 223 miles in 2 days, I’d say that deserves a tick against the challenge completed!