Monday, 5 April 2010

Weald oblivion

Confucius said it doesn't matter how slowly you go, so long as you don't stop.

Would that the ancient Chinese philosopher were making the rules for this year's Marmotte, although I'm not sure even an 'open' finishing time would help on the strength of this weekend's effort in Sussex.

If yesterday's jaunt around the low Weald is anything to go by - 46 tortured miles at an average of just under 16mph - I'll make it to the base of the first climb and just give up.

Now there's a list of excuses as long as your arm as to why the ride didn't go so well. But despite the cold, the rivers of farm run-off splattered all over the roads and the relative lack of freshness in the legs thanks to the previous day's marathon turbo effort, the truth is I felt knackered after a mere 30 miles. That's just over a quarter of the distance I'll need to cycle in France and nowhere near the altitude I'll be attempting to climb.

Thankfully, the terrain I tackled on a blustery Easter Sunday is nothing like what I'll be doing in France. The undulating roads thick with mud and, in several cases, running streams are a world away from the smooth, regular, consistent gradient-style routes of the Alps. I honestly couldn't settle into any kind of rhythm and, thanks to some tremendously helpful missing road signage, I often found myself hoping rather than knowing I was going in the right direction.

It got so bad that, once I reached the A26, I cut my losses and ran for Lewes rather than risk more uncertainty on the back roads. This shaved 14 miles off my intended distance and meant I missed out on scaling Ditchling Beacon. Probably for the best as I could barely ride up the drive by the time I finished.

There is a possibility I 'bonked' because I didn't really eat regularly, but I had a whopping great bowl of muesli with extra nuts before setting off and managed a fruit bar while looking for clues at a fork in the road near Mayfield. But if I'm lacking so much energy after such a short distance, I'm in deep, deep trouble.

Clearly, I need to get out more. What's been brought home with all the subtlety of a day-glo anvil is that I haven't got enough miles in my legs yet. With only three months before the big day, I'm massively behind schedule in terms of building up base fitness.

Now there's a fine line to be trodden between building up enough stamina and over-cooking it. I fear I've already missed the opportunity to do the latter.

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