I followed up my first ride of 2018 with another one the weekend after. In my experience it’s foolish to try to go too far too soon so I kept the distance to a relatively short 20 miles on roads that I knew well. I’m very conscious that I’ve done little since October so this seems like the best strategy!
Though it may be cold, sometimes wet and often dark, I love riding in the winter months. I find it refreshing for the soul and quite often the low sun that appears casts a completely different light over roads and scenery that passes me by in the summer months. I also like to see the other cyclists that have emerged from turbo trainers in sheds across the county as the nods of appreciation somehow mean more, a ‘well done’ for getting out in the cold and getting back on the roads.
……..all that said the following weekend was appalling, torrential rain so there was no way I was venturing out, however appreciative the nods may have been. I retreated to my turbo for an SST session through Watopia and, by the sheer numbers flying past me, I don’t think I was the only one!
We’d had a fair bit of rain during the last week but I was determined to get out yesterday. I’d planned to keep the distance fairly similar, around 20 odd miles, but the route I’d chosen had far more lumps in it so I knew it would test my legs. I’m going with quality over quantity at the moment!
It turned out to be a beautiful morning round the Surrey/Kent lanes. I drifted easily up to Tatsfield as the sun started to shine over the North Downs, with only the ‘Nasty Little Rise’ Strava segment providing any real resistance. I headed towards the village of Downe, using the lanes to bypass Cudham and Biggin Hill, passing a lot of cyclists on my way, most of them responding to a cheery hello and a wave. At Downe I turned left, descending the delightfully titled Jackass Lane, before turning back towards home at Nash and then on towards Featherbed Lane via the equally delightful North Pole Lane. I finished with my usual climb up Addington Road to Selsdon and then Sanderstead roundabout.
The lanes were lovely and quiet apart from the odd car and the whirr of bicycle wheels, but the previous week’s rain had washed some gravel and mud onto the edges and the centre of the tarmac so it was incredibly important to be attentive, particularly on the downhills at speed. As you can see from the video below, taken between Park Road and The White Bear at Fickleshole, there was a fair bit of debris that pushed me further towards the centre of the road
I know I have a great deal of work to do before July but I’m feeling fairly confident. I’ve been going to the gym twice a week, mixing strength work (squats, leg raises, hamstring curls) with cardio (rowing machine is my favourite!), I’ve been challenging myself to drink more water and I have been keeping a food diary recently which is helping me to regulate what I eat and it’s keeping me honest!
The best thing is that I’ve enjoyed being back on my bike so I know that I’ll be happy and motivated when the longer distances come around. I’ve signed up for a couple of sportives to ensure that I’m hitting targets along the way, both are rides that I’ve done before but the longer versions!
Pearson Brighton & Back Sportive – 144km route including the infamous Ditchling Beacon climb
Evans Ride It Woking – 136km route around the Surrey and Hampshire countryside
The weather looks good for next weekend so I hope to push that distance a little further still and continue my progression. Till then I will busy myself with cleaning the current bike and looking at pictures of potential next bikes!