Bike Bath – 80 miles of training

My Ride4OCD training as stalled a bit since my two Majorca training camps in April and May, where I did clock up the miles, and a respectable 45-60 each day for the 4/5 days I was there. Since coming back from Majorca late May a combination of work commitments and a cold meant I was off the bike for three weeks.

I had read somewhere lose a week on the bike and it takes a month to regain the fitness!

Anyway. Over the last couple of weeks I have hit the roads, rather than focussing on long rides I had decided to try and ride most days 20-30 miles with lots of climbing, and pushing up a few miles each week and a medium level ride or 50-60 miles at weekends during the final 5 weeks of training.

So with my plan firmly in place and with work piling up I decided to give this weekend’s Bike Bath sportive a miss. Partly because of the travel time to the South West (3 hours each way) and partly because I don’t think I am ready for 80 miles yet.

However, after a little arm twisting by Salkovskis (and what sounded like tears almost at having to ride it alone on his part!) I relented and I did drive across to the west country on Saturday evening, and yesterday Paul and I rode the Bike Bath 80 miler (was 78.73 to be precise, but I rode a mile to/from start line so I am saying 80!).

According to the two devices I use for tracking rides, we rode either 4,938ft or 5,187ft which is a huge amount of climbing, I am not sure which is the most accurate but the fact Endomondo said it was partly sunny leaves me little room for trust after I got drenched in a heavy downpour!

It was an eventful ride which started out well, we made good progress out of Bath, through the fantastic Bath tunnels, an old railway line tunnel converted to cycle paths, the tunnels are long and dark but fantastic for cyclists. We headed out into the countryside and the first climb went well.
There were hundreds of cyclists doing distances of either 10, 25, 50 or 80 miles. The routes are marked by arrows at every junction, incredible organisation (apart from one junction with both a left and right arrow which was a tad confusing with about a dozen cyclists all stopped trying to work out which way we were going!). There were feed stations at 27 and 60 miles, the first was fantastic with free food and energy bars, sandwiches and pie, cut into pieces (somebody had three pieces, mentioning no names Paul! The latter feed station was not so good, with very little food available by time we got there.

Throughout the day we were passed by lots of cyclists, always with a friendly hello as they passed. Sometimes I do find it disheartening being passed but I just remind myself I don’t care how quick others ride, for me it is about getting from A to B and if I ride 80 miles I don’t care less if I am dead last or not.

We did not start until 8am, I am trying to console myself with the thought the majority of 80 milers started at opening at 7:30am! For the last 30 miles or so we were cycling with a guy of similar ability to myself and a lovely couple on a tandem. Cycling is a great friendly sport, if you are by the sound of a road you can be assured another passing cyclist will stop and check you are ok.

In my case my trouble hit on a fast downhill at 60mph. My own fault, we had done the most difficult of climbs at Cheddar Gorge, and we were about a mile from the final feed station where I was looking forward to resting my legs, feeding myself and giving the final 20 miles a go (I had been tempted to drop out at 60). Anyway, coming downhill with a road covered by foliage meant the road was a little dark and whilst trying to dodge one pothole I failed to see the bigger and deeper pothole ahead of it which I hit hard, how I stayed upright I will never know, Paul behind me thought I was going down too! Somehow I did remain upright, and after I finished cursing I realised I was still in trouble my front tyre inner tube must have been popped by the pothole, suddenly on the downhill I was trying to brake without success and with a bend approaching I battling to bring the bike to a halt with my front wheel going all over the place, luckily I stopped, just a mile short of the feed station, of all the luck!

Paul’s wife was meeting us at the feed station so Paul called for help in case my wheel was damaged, luckily after some struggling I did manage to get the tube changed and we rolled down the hill to the feed station, only to find no sandwiches left!!! Apparently according to the bike mechanic at the feed station a number of other cyclists were caught out by the potholes and suffered damaged tubes.

I am torn between blaming the council for allowing such dangerous roads to exist without at least painting around the potholes to alert cyclists and the Bike Bath team for choosing such a dangerous downhill. Later today or tomorrow I will need to strip my wheel off and inspect it for damage to the edge of the rim.

Thinking I had now had my bad luck for the ride, we arrived at the feed station and the light shower that was forecast arrived in the form of torrential heavy downpour for about 45 minutes. I hate cycling in rain without my wet weather gear, your socks become sodden within minutes (through vents in the shoes), your rear becomes wet from water coming up from your wheel. You become cold, and visibility becomes an issue, I was ok but Paul found his eyes stinging, we think from the salt in the sweat he had on his head dripping into his eyes with the rain. The other problem is the bike becomes a mess, which means post ride cleaning!

Paul post Bike Bath ride[/caption]A few more county hill climbs and cursing from me later we arrived back into Bath and a friendly face with Paul’s wife greeting us and the sun finally came out and we tucked ourselves into the provided food (stew, pasta and cake!) Paul decided he needed a lie down as the pictures show!

I struggled without doubt, but I am so glad we did it. Ride4OCD will be hard, cycling 19-days consecutively will be hard, but what we did in Bath was far harder than any other day we will encounter from JOG to LE. Only two other days are in the 80s during JOGLE, but much less climbing. A couple of other days will be similar climbing to what we did in Bike Bath at around 5000ft, but much shorter mileage.

We were amongst the last to finish yesterday (Quickest Bike Bather over 80 miles finished in 4:25 hours which is impressive. Paul and I finished tenth from last in 07:45. I beat Paul by 2 secs ;), but I do not care less that we were slow, I did it, I cycled 80 miles!

P.S. The three hour drive home along the M4/M25 was not fun, I could hardly keep my eyes open so I had to pull in at some services and take a 10-minute cap nap.

Ashley Fulwood is an OCD sufferer fighting back. He is also the chief executive of the national charity, OCD-UK.

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