.5lb gain; 35lb total; 13lb in 2014
It’s taken me all day to work out I put my pants on inside out this morning but I can tell you what the weather forecast is like in Klagenfurt for the next three weeks. So far, it’s been the perfect introduction to taper madness.
But, before we get there, here’s a summary of the last six months…
So far in 2014 I have completed 2175 swim, bike and run miles, we’ve been to the coast on the bikes 6 times, I’ve conquered two nemesis climbs (Bury Hill and Ditchling Beacon) and I have a fabulous comedy tan.
The weekly training has been incremental and has pretty much followed the four week blocks planned (build three, recover one). It has gone a bit wonky the last couple of weeks when illness killed off the back end of week 21 and the beginning of week 22. But, overall it’s been really pleasing.
This week, was our final 100 miler and last trip to the coast. We were following the route planned by Barrie. We should have done it the previous week with Mel and her friend but illness put pay to that.
I have to be frank, the route scared me a little. I knew Barrie had put Ditchling Beacon in and I had already two failed attempts logged (one on the London to Brighton cycle ride and one on a little sportive a number of years ago called the Rockinghorse). We also had a return trip over Devils Dyke. But Mel raved about the route saying how pretty it was and after months of the A24 and A29 I craved something a little quieter and more scenic.
We managed to talk Pauline into a final trip south and with a vague plan to get to Burgess Hill in time to catch the Mid Sussex triathlon taking place there (with Dougal and Cliff taking part) we set off at the ungodly time of 5.30am.
The first part was a six mile drag up to the top of Pebble Hill. I could really feel the weights session from Thursday in my back. Peter had warned me there would be DOMS ahead, but I hadn’t really felt too bad up to that point. Its not surprising really, he had me dead lifting 87kg. When he loaded up the bar it looked kind of scary and felt heavy when I picked it up. But I’ve learned not to question, just do in Peters sessions, and I managed it ok. It wasn’t until he said, ‘do you know, that bar weighs more than I do’ that the reality of 87kg hit home! But it was a real rush to be able to do it and I was on a high for pretty much the rest of the week.
Happily the tightness in my back eased off after a quick stretch at Pebble Hill and never came back to bother me again.
The descent down Pebble was fun and then we hit the roads around Betchworth and the back roads of Reigate to Horley. We weren’t aiming to go particularly quickly (I was conscious of conserving energy for hills – its was Barries route after all, there were bound to be hills) and with one eye on the clock we made pleasing progress. As we travelled along, we could see constant reminders that we were on the London to Brighton cycle route.
I did the event once with a load of colleagues when I worked at Clapham police station. It was a great day but I swore never again after witnessing loads of crashes. Most of the crashes came around the hills, both ups (people stopping suddenly) and downs (people riding too quickly for the conditions). I remembered the next hill on the route was Turners Hill and we would encounter this before the 30 mile mark at Ardingly.
In the end, Turners Hill wasn’t too bad. All the hill sessions in the shed seem to be flattening them out on the road. We enjoyed a lovely long downhill on good roads to Haywards Heath then detoured off the route to Burgess Hill. When we got to the Triangle Leisure Centre, Donna and Morgan were waiting next to the leisure centre entry road with the happy news we hadn’t missed Dougal and Cliff and they were expected imminently. Yay.
Literally five minutes later both came haring down towards T2 with big smiles and cheerful countenance (well, until Dougal nearly went into the back of a vehicle that was desperately trying to squish him). A quick change of location to cheer them on the run and then we were back to enjoy a cup of tea before heading on.
Next up was Ditchling. Gulp. I had failed at this hill twice, both times on the last turn when it kicks up to about 15%. What bothered me this time was I was at least 2 stone lighter when I had last attempted it. And although I was in a good place now, an extra two stone is going to make it so much harder.
I felt really nervous on the approach road and just tried to talk myself into positive mind frame. In the back of my mind was a steely thought that no matter what, I wasn’t going to get off the bike until I got to the top and that gave me confidence.
The road kicked up and we were off.
After a short climb, it turned left where it flattened out slightly. I used the respite to calm my breathing, Peter ever in my head, ‘you control your breathing Nicky, it does not control you’. It kicked up again round to the right and then onto next plateau.
Repeating a mantra of ‘Calm, calm’ all the way up, it kicked up again then another recovery. The ‘step’ pattern continues all the way up, effort followed by respite until the last kick at the end. I could hear Pauline breathing behind me and that kept me going. Scared to stop in case she clattered into me.
Another left hand turn, another climb and another recovery.
I recognised it as the place I normally climb off and knowing there was just one more horrible incline I shouted to Pauline, ‘just one more round the corner, last one’. I turned and looked up to see the steepest up of all, but knowing it was the last effort before the top clambered out of the saddle and attacked it. Once the worse was over I dropped back into the saddle and spun out until I could see daylight between the trees ahead and finally, oh joy and relief, the car park sign indicating the top.
I had done it!
Alan was waiting for me at the top with a big smile on his face as I screamed at him ‘I did it’ over and over again. The relief was palpable. Another demon put to bed and another long glorious down into Brighton. Even the wind couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
The route back over Devils Dyke wasn’t as bad as expected. But from that point the route turned into Barrie hell/heaven. Constant short, sharp nasty hills were off set with beautiful luscious greenery and quintessential English pubs.
We took it easy as we were in no hurry now and the heat which had always been there, was now making itself known. It was a beautiful, challenging cycle ride and I became a little sad that, because of weekend working and racing commitments, it would be a long while before we would get this opportunity again.
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