Whilst I'm putting my feet up and letting my Achilles tendon recover I thought it would be an good time to have a look back and reflect on the ride.
Riding LEJoG was a great experience and you do get a great deal of satisfaction from knowing that you have cycled from one end of the country to the other. There were times when I was thinking “why am I doing this?” but there were other times that more than made up for it. The first and last days were probably the most enjoyable, with the freshness and scenery of day one in Cornwall and Devon making for a great ride. I think the early start and lengthy breaks helped too. The final day was fantastic, again having great scenery combined with warm sunshine and a strong tailwind helping me on my way to John O’Groats.
The most difficult aspect of the ride was the mental side of it. When you have been out on the bike for 5 hours and you’re only halfway through the day it can get quite tough, especially knowing that you will be doing the same the next day and the day after and so on. In terms of training I think I was physically well prepared for the ride but it is very hard to prepare mentally for riding 900 miles over seven days – other than actually doing the same in training of course! This especially surfaces when you are faced with heavy rain and headwinds, it can quickly destroy your spirit and the fifth day, when it rained constantly, was particularly difficult.
I was surprised how well my body coped with the rigours of cycling such long distances each day. Whilst it was obviously tiring I didn’t really feel too fatigued at any point, I think keeping well fuelled and using recovery drinks at the end of the day to make sure I took on plenty of protein helped. The only real problem I had physically was the sore Achilles tendon that developed in my left leg at the end of the fourth day. Reading up on this it could be something to do with my position not being quite right but considering it only surfaced 500 miles into the ride, and I had no problems during 1,750 miles of training, my position can’t be too bad. It might be something to do with my shoes not being the stiffest but I’m inclined to think it’s probably down to an increased workload and maybe the tendon not being used to the extra load being put on it as my leg muscles developed.
Other than having to hobble around for the last week I am really glad I did the ride. I don’t think I could have done it without the help of Kerri who has pretty much driven the length of the country twice and also supported/put up with me throughout my training and a lot of the ride itself. Thanks also to those that offered help should anything bad occur although I am glad it was not needed. It was great to get messages of support through facebook and twitter which, along with the numerous donations to RoadPeace, really kept me going. The ride has raised over £800 so far which I am really pleased with. I am reluctant to say that I have raised the money because all I have done is ride my bike which I enjoy doing anyway, it’s the generosity of everyone else that will help RoadPeace. Thanks to all those who have donated, it really means a lot and I’m sure the money will be put to good use.
Overall I am really pleased with how the ride went. I wouldn’t necessarily rush back to do it again, maybe when I’m retired I’ll take a more leisurely tour around the country. Whilst it was good to have set places to get to each day I think it would also be nice to take it at a steadier pace and go where you please and, if the weather’s awful, be able to take the day off! I don’t have any more long distance challenges lined up (although part of me thinks it’d be a good idea to ride a 12 hour time trial!) and it will be good to go back to doing shorter rides again.
My plan for the rest of the year is to do more high intensity riding to build upon the base I have developed over the last three months and see where it takes me. I will start off riding the club 10 mile time trials and probably try a couple of longer open time trials and maybe even a criterium or road race if I actually manage to develop a decent turn of pace. After that I’ve always fancied racing some hill climbs - in theory I have the build for it, I just need to knuckle down and do some focussed training and develop a bit of power!
For those that are interested I will be doing a bit of a review of the equipment I used for the ride along with the clothing, accessories, nutrition and accommodation over the next few blogs - hopefully this might prove useful for those thinking about doing something similar. For the rest of you, thanks for reading!