For those of you who don’t know me I’ll let you in on a secret, I’m naturally very lazy! Cold, wet and windy is perfect weather for curling up with a good book and not doing anything until it goes away. Which at times can mean the entirety of winter! So how is it I ended up trying to ride 800km in one month? Well I have an over developed sense of curiosity and I was curious to see if I could do it and what it would take. So I thought I’d give it a go, it couldn’t hurt that much right?
As a bit of background I usually ride between 300 and 400 km a month, a little more in summer due to the amount of organised ride and often less in winter. March had been a fairly lean month for me with a nasty cold and issues with my glute muscles. But April started well with the 100km Grand Slam which did end with me rolling around on the oval with sever cramp up the inside of both my thighs. CLP was very gentlemanly and didn’t laugh at me too much though he did point out that he got it all the time in his calves (I still think mine was worse).
The plan for me was to try and do more commuting and extend the rides home a bit. The first week was fine, though I was a bit nervous about triggering another lot of cramps and I thought Easter would be a fantastic time to rack up the km’s. That didn’t exactly go to plan but I did manage to get a couple of rides in between the chocolate making and watching the Paris Roubaix. Easter Monday had been earmarked for some mountain biking but instead my laziness got the better of me and we slept in and relaxed around the house for the day. I was about 260km into the Challenge and I was already worn out!
The following week I added a slight detour on the way home, heading out to the beach along linear park before heading home. This actually became the standard way to add extra km’s for this as it felt safer as the roads became wetter and darker. While it may be easier than climbing a whole lot in the hills, I’m not sure it’s easier than going flat out on the road (even though I was definitely going slower – no crashes with pedestrians or dogs for me), as road riding usually has stops at traffic lights whereas riding along linear park was continuous. Just a thought.
Anyway, the week culminated in the sportif at Williamstown and thanks to an enthusiastic A grader who decided to join us for the ride, it wasn’t quite the walk in the park I thought it was going to be. So much so that after the ride, when I went to ride back to the car, my glute decided to protest and I spent much of the rest of the day either sitting on ice packs or a tennis ball!
After a break on Monday which included a gym session focused on fixing my glute (for those of you who are familiar with foam rollers you can imagine what that was like), I tried an easy spin out to the beach again. I discovered as long as I didn’t try to sprint, I could ride just fine. Of course every now and then I’d forget, put a little too much power through my leg and feel the pain, but mostly I was all good. Of course this week ended in cyclocross, which didn’t add a whole pile of km’s but was a whole pile of fun! Well, for most of us anyway.
By this time I had crossed the halfway mark and was close to 600km and the theory was that I’d go for a ride on the Sunday, however it was windy and unpleasant and CLP had a dose of the man flu so I dutifully stayed home to look after him. Of course I was super keen to go riding in 30 km/hr winds, honestly!
I had just over a week to go and just over 200km to go. The weather had turned nasty and I was worried about getting CLP’s man flu. I was also exhausted. But I was so close, and there was a public holiday, so maybe I could do it! I had planned to get my 800km on the sportif that was coming up on the Sunday and so I was trying to do about 180km prior to that. Surprisingly I did it, in three consecutive days and did the middle, 50km ride, on the mountain bike. I was completely done but I had done enough that I made my 800km on Sunday at the sportif, covering the 800km in just under 37 hrs (I’m not super fast). I then came home and slept, a lot!
So what did I learn from this? I didn’t think at the beginning that I’d be able to do it and I had no idea that it would exhaust me so much but that I’d be able to ride through it. I was surprised that the riding was the easiest bit (mostly), convincing myself to get on the bike was much harder, especially when all I wanted to do was sleep! I also got to enjoy some amazing moments riding along the foreshore near Glenelg with the waves crashing against the rocks which I never would have done if not for this challenge. It was a challenge for me and I’m glad I completed it but I hope you won’t mind too much if I return to my lazy self and spend some significant time relaxing off the bike in May!
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