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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Day 3: Playley Green - Manchester

Day three dawned much brighter than the previous day and I made an earlier start knowing that there were many hard miles ahead.

Start of the day in Playley Green
Initially setting off in cold weather gear I was soon taking off my gilet and full finger gloves, the latter being replaced by summer mitts. It was the first outing for these since the last spell of warm weather back in March!

5 miles in and it was time to take off the gilet & windstopper gloves
I had begun the day feeling quite good, my legs not feeling half as bad as they had following back to back long rides in training.I think the recovery drinks I had been taking each night were doing their job, even if the taste was rather unpalatable! With rolling roads getting hillier as the morning passed by I stopped for lunch in a sunny Bridgnorth.

Beautiful weather all day

Following lunch I followed a section of the national cycle network that took me off the roads for a change. Although I was initially concerned about taking the bike off-road it turned out to be quite a decent surface and made for a good change in pace. In fact the conditions were probably better than some of the roads I would encounter later in my ride!

A bit of off-road action
It was nice to get away from the traffic, the only noise being that of the gathering mud that accumulated between my tyres and mudguards. Now I know why cyclocrossers don't have mudguards! Once I had stopped, taken off my wheels and removed the caked mud I was back on my way.

The bike path followed the river Severn
As the afternoon wore on I really started to feel all the miles in my legs. This was the first time I was doing 3 long rides back to back and it was a voyage into the unknown. Whereas on day 2 I was questioning why I was doing the ride on day 3 I was questioning whether I would complete it. I was finding the ride tough mentally - when you have been riding for five or six hours and still have another 50 miles to go it can get quite dispiriting, which is compounded by knowing you have to do it all again tomorrow.

Bridge over the Severn
The middle part of the day only seemed to get hillier and I couldn't feel any noticeable effect from the tailwind, each hill taking more out of me. So it was with great relief that I finally reached the flat plains of Cheshire and got onto familiar roads. I still had Manchester city centre to pass through though and following one close miss with a driver who didn't seem to understand roundabouts I was pleased to make it home in one piece.

Jodrell Bank meant I was nearly home

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