Back in the saddle again
On a high after a sprint triathlon last year, I signed up for this May’s Etape Caledonia. At the time it seemed too far in the future to worry about but now the 90-mile epic through some gorgeous – but worryingly hilly – Scottish countryside is looming in the near distance.
And I haven’t been out on my bike for a proper ride since October.
It’s always too easy to find excuses: Running is more time efficient; it’s too icy, cold, rainy, snowy; my bike gears feel cranky; I can’t find a clean pair of shorts etc etc.
But then C and J from my Tri Club suggested a couple of hours of riding near Erskine this weekend. I had not a single excuse so I found myself agreeing with a nervous smile.
There was a part of me that hoped it would be rained off but Saturday arrived surprisingly dry and although there was a little wind howling around it didn’t seem too daunting (by Scottish standards!).
By 12.30, I had popped the bike in the car and was headed for J’s in the roundabout townsville of Erskine.
The following few hours cycling were actually a huge delight. J and I headed on road to Bridge of Weir to pick up C and then joined a smooth and traffic free cycle way headed for Port Glasgow. The going was mostly leisurely and the chat was good fun.
On reaching the coast we took to the roads again. After the nice flat cycle way it did seem a bit of an affront to be faced with a huge great hill out of Gourock but with so much down to reach this point it seemed obvious we’d need to tackle a bit of up during the afternoon.
“And it’s only about a mile of gentle uphill,” said C optimistically. Hmm. More like 2 or 3 miles and on some steeper sections I was down to my last granny gear. Still, I like a challenge. So does C, who spurred me on up the whole ascent. But it appears that J is a little less keen on burning up his thighs! His cursing could probably be heard back in Glasgow!
The next 40 mins or so were spent on fantastically scenic, undulating country roads as we cycled at full pelt back to Bridge of Weir. Obviously smelling a large coffee and a bun waiting for him in his home town, C really went for it over the final few miles encouraging J and I to push it to keep up.
But what I didn’t realise was that there would be another 8 miles back to Erskine for us – and into a headwind! “Good training, good training,” I kept thinking, in a bid to keep myself going. “Aargh this hurts, it hurts,” muttered a tired J.
(And I swear that someone had been out building roundabouts while we were away cycling. I counted at least twice as many of the freaking things going back as heading out.)
I have no idea how far we cycled in just over three hours (I’d forgotten my speedometer; J couldn’t get his to work) but it did feel fantastic to have been out on my bike again.
It only takes one great ride to get you back into the swing of things – I hope!