Opportunities to get out on my new bike have been somewhat limited by shift work and swabbing on the Declaration tour (not that I am complaining) so despite finishing my night shift at 10am this morning... the cycle home from work convinced me that today was a good day to go out. It wasnt cold or raining.. probably a first since september 2013 and given that I had a free day (probably should have been sleeping some of it) it seemed too good to miss.
As with anything... a bit of preparation is needed. Spare tube.. check.. pump .. check... water bottle... check. And off I went.
I had no clear plan... just a vague direction. Originally thought I would aim for windsor and then down and back across in a huge loop but soon the temptation to just take any road that looked good took over.
Spring is most definately in the air and when cycling there are clues that pop up along the way to make this point.
1st is an increase in the amount of flies you find yourself spitting out. An inevitability for any cyclist.. it becomes in springtime a substantial protein addition to the diet.
2nd is the realisation that once again you have to brush up your rabbit/pheasant dodging skills as they inevitably lie in wait at the side of the road waiting for you to approach before launching themselves within a whisker (no pun intended) of your front wheel in the rabbit version of divine wind (not a flatulance reference... )
3rd is the realisation about half way through the ride that really the base layer/long fingered gloves/waterproof layer really weren't necessary and that you are slowly being reduced to a puddle.
All good though and my bike was performing brilliantly. Some hills I seemed to float up (despite my low level of fitness at present) and the downhills were pure speed along with handling that made me feel sure of the bike. Occasionally I had a problem clipping in due to the fact that my new pedals are one sided rather than multi sided as my previous ones were. Most of the route was pretty flat though and I used it as an opportunity to put the power down and cruise at a good speed.
The one problem with going down roads you like the look of is that several times I found myself back at the point I had left... having done a wierd kind of loop. Whilst this didnt bother me as I was aiming for decent mileage it did mean that I didnt get very far out of Reading.. and certainly never saw Windsor.. in fact I ended up in Camberly and heading towards Frimley.
Being Spring.. I now can go out on my bike in my lycra cycling shorts. In colder weather I wear them under another pair of shorts but now had to bite the bullet. Lycra... never a good look unless you are stick thin with very well defined musculature. Unfortunately this is not an accurate description of me and it does take a bit of nerve to just wear the cycling shorts. I dont think I look as bad as the picture currently circling facebook of a woman wearing leggins (who really shouldnt be) on a bike but I certainly am very self conscious about it.
On the plus side... less seams =less chafing (a subject discussed at length previously), however in future I must remember the chamois cream for any rides over about 30 miles as it began to get pretty uncomfortable by mile 40.
It occurred to me that cycling in USA allowed for far more freedom for contemplation because once you turned onto a road.. you knew you would be following it for the next 70 miles. Here with all the twists and turns and junctions.. the concentration needs to be upped a bit. This didnt stop me turning completely the wrong way on the way home.. god knows how I got across America!
I have lately been put to shame by the efforts in training by my friend Mickey... who will be doing lands end to john o groats this june. So at least now I have some miles on my training plan. I do have a few months (try at least 18) in which to work myself up to a fitness level that will be the equal of New Zealand and prevent me dying from exhaustion over there but as I learned last time.. the months/days/hours go bloody quickly and it will be here before I know it.
The initial mapping is done. Next up is the detailed daily maps which will let me work out how many miles I will aim for each day. The bonus this time is that I at least have a routine for the days and how to cope with the day by day exhaustion.
So 45 miles today in just under three hours... which included a stop for food post ride (the carbs were calling me). Which brings me back to Lycra... nothing makes you face up to any and all body image fears than walking into a tesco in your cycling kit! And on that note..