Another bad day at work, and stress levels are high. The weather is mediocre, and it’s tempting to spend the evening indoors… but it’s a week or two since I’ve ridden…
So half an hour later, I’m leaping onto the Coker at the usual place, and riding past the kids who try a variation on an earlier theme by shouting “Yoooooneeeeeeeeeeebiiiiiiiiiiike!” as I disappear into the distance.
I have a vague plan to do a long ride without dismounting… My previous best is 20.05 miles…
And of course I’m well prepared: I have half a Camelbak of water, with a faulty mouthpiece, I have no chocolate or other calories, I had a couple of light sandwiches at 12:00 and it’s now gone 6:00, and I’m wearing jogging bottoms over my cycle shorts, instead of my padded cycling longs.
I soon reach the Water Sports Centre and set off around the lake. It’s not a fantastic ride, but it’s reliable, with a lap of around 5km on decent tarmac. There’s a stiff breeze blowing up the lake, so one half of the lap is a bit of a slog, and the other is easier, but too warm.
Two laps in, I start to notice that everyone else is lapping in the opposite direction. There is the “proper” bicyclist, with is head down, lapping about 2.5 - 3 times as fast as I am; there are the attractive lady joggers lapping rather slower than I am; there are the three portly girls, ambling round in jogging bottoms and trainers to work up an appetite for their pizza, chips, cream cake and Diet Coke later… I’m lapping about 4 times as fast as them.
Around this time, I start to feel a bit of cramp in my right calf.
Three laps in and I notice the fit young bloke on roller blades. He’s deadly serious, acknowledging me with only the slightest of nods as he glides past. We’re lapping at about the same speed.
Sometimes the road is partly blocked by huge numbers of Canada geese, with their fluffy goslings being cutely obstructive. On the hillside, I think I can see the yellow flash of cowslips, but I don’t stop, because I’m on a mission.
Four laps in and I calculate I’ve done about 13 miles, give or take, and now I’m in pain. Try as I might, I can’t get my intratrouserial adjustments right. Everything feels out of place and trapped. I resort to shifting back in the saddle and resting the heel of my hand on the front with my arm straight. After a while, that hurts my hand, so I alternate between the positions. The bloke on roller blades is lapping about 1.5 times as fast as me now. I don’t think he’s accelerated though!
My feet are also starting to feel it. I’ve been riding fairly steadily for well over an hour, and I can feel my feet slipping forwards in my trainers - the trainers are held firmly in place by the pins on the pedals. My toes start to go numb.
About 15 miles in (I can’t read the computer when I’m riding) and my calves haven’t cramped up, but my right knee is starting to twinge. That’s bad news, because my right knee has to work hard when I’m fencing. I back off a bit.
Now comes the tricky bit: I calculate I’ve done over 19 miles, but can’t be sure if it’s over 20. A UPD now is a risky proposition… all this pain and a failure to hit a new record would be unacceptable. So, do I do yet another technically easy lap of the lake? I’ve noticed I’m now the only person lapping the lake. The joggers, bicyclists, roller bladers and portly pedestrians have all gone. The rowing boats have all been put away. It’s starting to get dark,and I have no lights.
I take the risk. I turn away from the main lake and take the slightly tricky route across the loose ballast path down to the canoe slalom course, cut back through the carpark, nearly being knocked off by a car, and then do one more section of loose ballast before reaching the road.
From here it’s familiar and fairly easy riding, as long as I don’t meet anyone on the narrow bits. I’m in considerable intratrouserial pain (US = “intrapantsal”) and I’m starting to feel like I’ve had enough. I’m pretty sure I’ve done over the 20 miles, but I doubt I’m within reach of 25.
Enough is enough and I take the easiest route back to the car, and arrive to the gentle strains of Fucek, sung in chorus by an informal choir of urchins.
And the numbers?
Coker, absolutely standard with the cheap wheel, except for:
Slightly lighter 150mm cranks,
Pinned platform pedals.
Total distance ridden: 22.36 miles without a single dismount or UPD. (35.97 km.)
Total time: 2:19:27.
Average speed: 9.61 mph (15.47 kmh)
Max recorded speed: 12 mph (19.3 kmh)
And when I got home… as I complete the other two stages of the triathlon: ride, climb stairs, have bath, I discover that in my haste to get changed for the ride, I’d put my cycle shorts on over my normal underwear. No wonder everything hung wrong! Ouch.