Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Banbury with the Browns - going South

I awoke on day two a bit confused. It must have been either the champagne or just utter fatigue, but I had fallen asleep as soon as I'd sat on the bed. It was still perfectly made. Either that or the compression tights were that good that they had held me completely still. I was actually a bit scared to take them off in case my legs spilled out everywhere. 
Easter treats!

 I decided I would have breakfast first, to build up the strength required to pull the tights from my enormous calves. We indulged in muesli and home-made marmalade on toast and watched the weather with anxious anticipation. Fortunately the wind direction hadn't changed and it looked like we were going to have a tailwind for our homeward journey.

Once Sarah had gotten over her grumpy morning bit and ranted at the birds for "making too much noise", we were away. Five minutes later and we were back in happy cycling mode; enjoying quiet, smooth and mostly traffic-free roads.

I mentioned before the 'phases of cycling' that occur over the course of a long ride. They go something like this:


1. The "do I really want to do this" thought and subsequent brainstorming of possible excuses not to.
2. The "why am I doing this" questioning (particularly prevalent if you start in the early morning).
3. Initial doubts as to whether you will ever get through the ride. 
4. The legs start to warm up and it's actually not as bad as you thought.
5. In the next phase you make peace with the fact that you're on a long ride and start to be happy about it.
6. The 'ooh look at that field, isn't it lovely?!' phase.
7. The massively over-energetic powering over the first hill phase.
8. The long, steady pace phase.
9. The slightly less energetic second hill phase. (Stages 8 and 9 may be repeated)
10. The 'YES! Another cyclist, let's get 'em' phase.
11. The 'another hill? Really?' phase.
12. The food stop. Which is almost always followed by a fresh burst of energy.
13. The bit of the ride that's an impressively quick pace.
14. The completely soul destroying hill phase where you plod up in a tiny gear.
15. The 'England is crap with all it's stupid hills and potholes' phase.
16. Sometimes you get a bonus ranty phase that's like phase 15 but much more sweary.
17. The phase where nobody talks to each other, it's just heads down and cycling.
18. The '10 miles to go' phase where suddenly you perk up and the pace increases.
19. The home stretch, where the chat starts up and fields look lovely once again.
20. The huge relief of getting to your destination.
21. The ever so slightly emotional phase where you love your fellow cycling buddies who have 'gone through this experience with you'.

The worst 8% hill EVER
After an absolute tinker of a hill we were fortunate enough to have a very extended phase 13. With a hefty tailwind and a good few miles of flat we were absolutely flying along. After Wantage the A338 becomes a rolling hill heaven of fast descents with enough momentum to push you over all the bits of up. In fact this momentum carried us all the way to Hungerford and we were on for a very quick journey home.

Unfortunately something went wrong with my knee on the descent into Hungerford so the next few miles were a bit of a one-legged limp. We decided food (as always) would be the answer so we stopped and scoffed loads of goodies whilst sat down by the canal.

Enjoying lunch at the canal

The knee didn't ease up, so a very patient Sarah was towing me along as I span as much as I could, determined not to give up. We tried adjusting the saddle position, ibuprofen, haribo.. all the obvious things, but it was no good. The pace gradually got slower and slower and as we passed Durrington, I knew I couldn't make it home. I called in a lift from my trusty dad to pick me up at Amesbury - a mere 9 miles from home. I was really sad not to finish the adventure in style but a great adventure it had been nonetheless!

Find out route here

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