Just under two weeks now until we head north to take part in this year’s Rat Race Coast to Coast 2017. As always my preparations have been sub-optimal. We are taking part over two days and the event requires us to travel 110 miles from Nairn to Ballachulish, mostly on bicycles with a fair stretch of running/walking and two minor excursions in kayaks. It should be fun depending on what the Scottish weather throws at us.
I’ve been doing some running and some cycling. No kayaking though! In preparation I bought myself a nice new bike, and what a difference it has made compared to the 20 year old mountain bike the I inherited from my little brother. That thing feels like a tank, although I miss the full suspension on the roads around here. Potholes like moon craters.
The new bike has seen my average speed increase by around 3 mph on a ride, and times have tumbled. What it hasn’t done is imbue me with a super-human ability to suddenly complete massive distances at great speed without getting tired.
Over the past two weeks I have been on some big rides. The first big one was with Stacey, my partner in crime on this mad venture. I went up to his house and we completed a loop from Loch Awe to Loch Fyne and back around again. This took in two large hills, one via a forestry track and the other on roads climbing out of Inverary. The weather threw everything at us and I was completely done in with about 12 miles still to go. 41.6 miles later I was happy to ditch my bike and have a hot shower. I was glad to have done it though as it taught me two things: 1 – Stacey is much faster uphill than I am; 2 – I needed to get more miles into my legs.
And so last week I went out running a few times during the week and then at the weekend I was back out on the bike. On the Saturday the weather was glorious and so I cycled down National Cycle Route 76 to just north of Berwick upon Tweed, before heading along National Cycle Route 1for a few m miles and then turning inland towards Paxton. From there I headed to Hutton, Chirnside, and Preston before heading over the last few hills back home. I lost the reflector from my front wheel as I forded Whiteadder Water. The last couple of hills were less fun but overall I was happy with the ride.
On Sunday, with very achey legs, I headed in the opposite direction. I rode out towards Dunbar along the back roads, taking in such delights as the hill out of Oldhamstocks and the Brunt before dropping down into Dunbar at great speed. I took some of the tracks through Lochend Woods before heading back along National Cycle Route 76 to my house. This last section has great views of the sea, as well as the Dunbar Cement Works and Torness Power Station. You always have to take the rough with the smooth.
After the last two miles being uphill to the house I was tired again but happy to have completed the ride. The weather had been kind all weekend and it was good to get some decent miles and hills in my legs.
One more weekend to go and I will be taking it easy. The event will come around soon enough.
I am using this event to raise money for Henshaws through my efforts and hope that you will join me in supporting them by donating any amount that you can afford. Great or small it all adds up.
My mum is a user of the services that Henshaws provide and so this has some particular personal relevance to me. Based in the North of England Henshaws provide expert support, advice and training to anyone affected by sight loss and a range of other disabilities.
You can donate here. Many thanks in advance.