I had a day off work, a good forecast & the only deadline of 3:30 to collect my daughter from school.
collected everything together- 3l Camelbak, snacks, jumper, tools, wallet, mobile, even remembering my camera. felt organised & went out the front door. Went back inside to collect the muni. Got back outside & started hunting for a small, light bike lock. Hmmm. must be inside. after a 1/2 hour return ride to collect the spare door keys & a 10 minute search I gave up and set off. While riding to collect the key I had a jumper on as it was quite cold. On arriving I nearly passed out with a rush of blood from the head. a vital lesson in how easy it is to overheat, even when it’s cold. I’ll have to take care on future, colder weather rides.
The hopeful target was 16 miles away, Hampton Court Palace following the Thames all the way.It’s half the distance in a straight line. Starting at the start of the towpath in Putney was now out of the question due to the delay so straight up river, expecting to meet plenty of joggers. in the first 6 miles there was no one. this is London! where is everybody? a couple of boats on the river, the odd cyclist. lots of Heron, Grebes, Jays etc, plenty of airplanes. after Richmond, within that famous view painted by Turner, I found a bench to relax on with the simple dedication “for pondering”. I took advantage and pondered. Having watched KH on Universe 2 last night and suddenly thinking “why is he doing that - it’s absurd” I avoided pondering about unicycling!
At about 12 miles, having been riding for 2 hours (including breaks) I felt shattered. back suddenly started really aching, sciatica style. no energy. have I heard it being called a ‘bonk’? found a pub & put my feet up for an hour. a pint of shandy & huge burger & chips sorted me out. decided I was being a wimp & continued, as it was only about 3 or 4 miles to Hampton Court. Took it easy, and while riding past a friendly couple packing their bicycles with shopping, I suggested that they rode Unis, so they would buy less! finally made it to Hampton Court and rode in. felt overcrowded by schoolkids & tourists, so quickly rushed through to Bushy Park. As I was short of time I decided to go to Teddington to catch a train home instead of riding back through Richmond Park. spent a while looking at the noticeboards and there seemed to be no guidance at all on where cycling was or was not allowed. in RP it’s strictly policed but here you could probably ride in the formal ponds! no one to ask so I took the paths that suited me. the 3 police cars I saw didn’t stop so I assume I was OK.
made it the 1/2 mile home from the station, feeling very stiff already just from the 20 minutes sitting still on the train! how will I feel tomorrow? my copy of New Zealand Mountain Biker with Ken’s Cambodia ride arrived today so I can settle down & read that to ‘unwind’.
I didn’t need that lock…
I have even more appreciation of the long distance riders. although regular riding & training (if for an event) helps massively. it’s still quite something, maybe one day I’ll…
thanks for the support guys. I have every intention of going further, more often.
I was surprised how little I ached the next day, but more suprised at how tired I was. Just felt so weak & in need of energy! I’ll definitely be going again, but with more specific preparation with a big supper the night before and a big breakfast. That reminds me - I found the bike lock the very next day!
I actually wrote a checklist but didn’t put the muni or keys on the list. they were so obvious only an idiot would forget them… oh.
1.5 to 2 hours into a hard ride is where I start to feel a complete drop in energy level. If I want to ride for more than 1.5 hours I have to plan ahead before the ride and fuel up during the ride. Before the ride I need to make sure I’ve eaten well and hydrated well. During the ride I need to make sure that I eat and drink and replenish electrolytes.
For me the electrolytes are a big one. If I don’t replace the electrolytes that I’m sweating away I feel wasted no matter how many energy bars and energy gels I eat. Drinking a sports drink like Gatorade is one way to refuel the electrolytes during a ride. If the salt on those chips tasted really really good then that might be your body saying it needs more salt during the ride. For carbohydrates during the ride I find the gels and energy bars to be very convenient.
If you’re going to be riding hard for two hours or more then you’ve got to pay attention to the food, water, and electrolytes. The body won’t run well if any of those three get too low.
It’s a nice ride that. I used to do a similar ride on my Coker, when I worked in Waterloo, out of work and up the Thames as far as I could. Furthest I’ve done from there is to Staines as my family live there. I’ve ridden to Twickenham loads as I’ve got friends there too.
The bit from Teddington->Staines is quite nice and the next bit to Runnymede is nice too. If you use a map you can do a big loop from Staines -> just past Runnymede on the towpath -> Windsor Great Park -> either Windsor and train back, or to Englefield Green -> Egham -> Staines. You get a few little hills that way.