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Doing the 50km bike ride

I dood it. That's the first thing. The second thing: it didn't half kill me. That's very interesting and positive. In order to get to the start, I had to cycle about 12 miles to richmond, which was somewhat of a bind. It worried me a little, given that it's longer than my usual cycle to work, before I'd even started.

Kicking off at about 10.20 I cycled for most of the time in that "barely putting any pressure at all on the pedals" type way - a little like treading water. My commuter irritation at slowness in front did get the better of me sometimes and I did overtake people but always only going at a certain level.

The weather was deceptive - it felt cool on the bike, because there was a bit of a breeze but slowing down, I realised that it was warm and humid. Everyone was sweating, but the breeze made it look less obvious. The weather forecast had been for 23 degrees so I'd brought 2 water bottles with me filled with half water / half apple juice and Good God that was a good idea. I drank through 3/4's of the whole lot by the end, and yet later when I went to the loo, I barely passed a thing. All of that water had just burned away.

there were various stopping points for refreshments and at every one I saw many people stopping off, but I didn't feel like it so carried on. On the way to Richmond I'd stopped off at Sainsburys to buy the apple juice for my drink bottles, a handful of bananas and a breakfast bar which I ate as a booster just before the ride started, so at a certain point - I think basically noon, I stopped briefly and ate a banana. I drank obviously on the go. The route was mostly lovely - either by the river or through a gorgeous forest - on the road. So excellent, cycling through beautiful overhanging tree corridors. It was surprising how the cyclists pulled apart, meaning that for many stretches I was cycling on my own. I realised fairly early on that in fact, not cycling in a team meant I had no worries about sticking together, or indeed, feeling that I should stop off at any point.

At 29 miles, about 1pm, I stopped and had another banana. I think that was possibly a mistake. My legs felt utterly dreadful getting back on but there again, had I not, would I have felt so good cycling the last stretch? I had a ton of energy left, and I'd sped up gradually through the ride, as I passed more and more riders - beginning to realise how fit I really was. There was a bitch of a couple of hills around the 9 & 8 mile mark then suddenly, beautifully a delightful present from the people organising the route - a massive downhill slope, taking me almost all the way in to Old Windsor, then another. And this is where I really realised how much energy I had left - and felt slightly annoyed with myself, thinking I could have done the ride differently, and been a hell of alot quicker. The huge hills coming in to Windsor meant I was about 15 minutes quicker than I thought, so I looked in vain for the kids, etc at the finish line. Delightfully, there were people there cheering everyone who came through. Nice.I finished at 13.10. Three hours ten minutes.

Then Chip. Oh. Salty, delicious chips. That first chip like manna from heaven. And there they were. David finding me first, reasoning that if he'd just finished a long ride, he'd either want a beer or chips! The kids smiling, me showing them my medal.

So how would I do it differently? I think doing the first section at a mild pace is still a good idea - you're in London, the roads are a bit faffy. But, it's possible I think to put a bit of a pace on at 15 miles and pick it up properly. I'm thinking that if I really 'listened' to my legs, and felt what power was available, as opposed to plodding on lightly to conserve energy I could get the ride down to probably 2 hours 40, if not 2 hrs 30. Particularly if I actually managed to do some proper training.

...and if I had a proper road bike... swoon.

After effects? Part of the reason to do the Richmond/Windsor was because Tod lives in Windsor - hallelujah! A hot bath during which I massaged my muscles as much as possible. I did feel progressively more and more like a 90 year old for the rest of the day, and have overslept 2 days running while my body recovers but there I was, back on the bike Monday morning to go to work feeling... okay. Not dreadful. Surprisingly reasonable. Which leads me again to the conclusion that, damn - I'm a hell of a lot fitter than I think.

But as well as the surprising nature of that revelation, how about - blimey, the thought of me, joining in something like that - crazy! Joining in a 50k bike ride and realising that it wasn't too bad!


Next stop 100k?