Mostly Yesterday

Posted: June 17, 2013 in COPD, Cycling, training
Tags: , , , , , ,

I was cycling (often in the rain) around Wiltshire & a little bit of Oxfordshire. Why? Partly because I’d paid my entrance fee; partly because I had already said I would; partly to get out of household chore but, mostly because I needed to: in just 21 days time, I’ll be setting off on a 500+ mile cycle challenge to Hungerford’s twin town of Ligueil, and back. And why am I doing that?

Mainly because I love cycling, I love it to bits [back in the 60’s I missed many a school day just so that I could ride my bike] and not cycling would leave such a massive hole in my life. So when I was told I had COPD and that it wouldn’t get better but would in fact deteriorate I was more that a little bit upset.

Resigning myself to the fact that my breathing was only going to worsen I started selling my bikes. First the Colnago fixie (sad, sad day), the thee the Specialized Roubaix. Next was to be the De Rosa when I thought NO, COPD is NOT going to do this to me. I was going to ride my bike(s) and prove that I could still do so. But, i needed a goal, something to aim for. Hence the series of cycle challenges.

Anyway, back to yesterday. We (Matt, Nick and myself) arrived at the registration point for the Great Western Sportive where we were met by Mike, Barry & Charles. Together we would take on and beat the route (72 miles) and, get back before the organisers took down the directional signs. Which by the way, we did.

Riders were sent off in groups so as not to crowd the roads with hundreds (literally) of cyclist all at once. Our allotted start came and off we set: left out of the venue, left at the roundabout, left at the junction and away we go. After two miles we were stopped by road works traffic lights. It was then that we realised we had lost Charles. We waited, waited and waited. So, Nick being the young whippet that he is was despatched to find him. In the mean time, the next wave of cyclist went by. We were losing time. Then I got a call: Charles had got a puncture as we left the departure point and had gone back to the service station for help. Nick came back to report that couldn’t find him (not surprising really). We waited as the next wave of cyclist went by. So, this time, His Podgeness was despatched to find him. After a mile Charles spotted coming out of the junction and in time, all we’re reunited. All except that is for Matt. While we taken on the 72 mile ride, Matt had opted for the 100+ mile route. Ooh, what a show off.

Anyway, having lost at least 20 minutes, we were off and away. We had been warned of the first hill shortly after the start and so we approached it with dread. But, on reflection, it wasn’t that bad and reaching top we fairly whizzed along. God, this is great. This is what I was born to do, ‘ride my bike’.

The first stop was due, I calculated, after 24 miles. As we came to a right turn with a friendly cyclist come Marshall, we were told the stop was at the top of the hill. I looked forward then up, then I looked up some more and I saw one of the white horses carved into the hill side. What a magnificent site it was. Then, I realised the road went up and around the horse, then up some more. This is where my breathing limitations (48% effective) made their mark and the bike became a ‘push bike’ 🙂

Anyway, we reached the stop, and the rain came. Fortunately, I had my rain top tucked away under the saddle. We rested for a good 10 minutes before setting off along some great roads and into Avebury. By now, we were getting a little bit wet (can cyclists get trench foot) but on we went.

Eventually we reached Ramsbury and started heading towards Hungerford coming within 4 miles of home. Unfortunately, my car was in Swindon with another 30 (hilly) miles to go. So we resisted the temptation and turned left to go upwards towards Lambourne. Not long after we espied two damsels in distress. His ‘gallant’ Podgeness couldn’t just leave them and so, along with Charles, assistance was offered. By now of course, the rest of the group were well in front so we thought we might as well stop. For AA few minutes we stood chatting while watching try to sort their puncture out then frustration took hold and I helped them refit the tyre. Satisfied they were once more roadworthy, we bid them farewell and off we went. After 20 miles the ‘damsels’ whooshed by us and with a thank you for our help, they were gone. Charles and I were now convinced we were the ‘lantern rouge’. Still, I said, at least we’re something.

After that it was just a case of slogging onwards and upwards until at last Swindon was in view. From our vantage point I could clearly see the hospital. Well, I certainly wasn’t going there! From here we seemed to be in a holding pattern as we zig zagged along the top of the hill before eventually dropping down to the ride end and a welcome coffee and Mars Bar: I’d earned it.

And that was that. 74.5 miles and it was still daylight.

Next week? Something shorter I think.

Go Podge, Go
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