Some weeks ago whilst talking to the organisers of the Help for Heroes Bike Ride I commented on the lack of hills (but surfeit of headwinds) in the Fens. Thus was I introduced to the Hill Training weekend in Wiltshire/Hampshire.
Last weekend was that event.
Having worked all through Easter I had created a spare day for Friday and so drove down in the afternoon and arrived at Salisbury YHA in the late afternoon. I quickly dropped off my gear off in the dorm and spent a bright (but fresh) early evening in Salisbury centre – I can recommend the independent Brazilian Coffee store.
A pasta filled evening meal (loading up on carbs for the coming day was an important side benefit!) plus a quick(ish) half with a few of the others was rounded off with an early night. Sadly the early night did not lead to the accrued benefit of lots of sleep. It is a very long time since I slept in a dorm, and it brought back all the reasons not too – too warm, too much snoring, too much everything. I got about 90 minutes kip.
The worst preparation.
Breakfast was good, but regrettably I wasn\’t up for a real pig out (and carb load), but got on with what I could. We then found the start was a bit later than we were all expecting – so I could have got a an extra hour awake in bed!! But finally, after a quick briefing on what to expect, we were off. Thankfully the initial start was downhill and dry, that was to change…
Within a couple of miles it was evident some miserable &*\”£^\”£s had been playing around with the arrows on the lampposts showing us around. Badly for a couple of us, this meant we took an unexpected and unplanned detour. Six miles later we were a) back on route b) getting wet as it had started to rain quite heavily; so we plodded on. We had been expecting a water/snack stop at about 13 miles, but unfortunately the expectation was false as the organisers hadn\’t asked the staff to put one on!! Even if they had we would probably have been so far behind as to miss it.
So on we trekked, up hill and down dale (and it seemed mostly up!). We caught up with a couple of fellow trainees and their gesticulations seemed to indicate the van was there with food, but no. They were just taking a comfort break and pleased to see someone else. Off again into the chill air
After the longest morning cycling I\’ve done this year (or so it felt!) a pub loomed, and 2 orange arrows pointed into the car park. LUNCH!!!!!!!!!!!
During my training for the event, I\’ve been used to stopping half way at a pub and consuming a cooked meal with loads of carbs and protein. This time it was a sarnie, crisps, tracker bars and jelly babies. But I did get a hot chocolate from the bar – brilliant choice, this was followed by the mistake of teaming it with 1/2 a chocolate muffin – this was to sit very heavy in me for the next hour or two. Lesson learned for next month!
We then found we had about 36 more hilly miles to go, but after just 12 or so, we would be returning to the pub for a bit more food, and then head off home.
Those 12 miles had a 15%, 18% and 20% incline hill. 1 in 5 UPHILL JUST BEFORE THE PUB. Reader, I walked it. Even that needed a breather or two!
On one hill I had an interesting experience – it was reasonably steep, and I\’d just paused to catch my breath. On getting back into the saddle and setting off my other foot cleated in and drove down really hard. The front of the bike stepped up and I was doing a wheelie, uphill. But not for long. Losing control within a few nano-seconds, I started to fall, so managed (instinctively) to uncleat my right foot and only half fall over. What I was only to discover 2 days later, was a massive bruise on my left thigh where I must have slammed into the saddle as I fell. Hey ho!
During the day the only time I broke away from a solitary ride and caught up with people seemed to be when they broke down. Still it gave the schoolboy bike tech some practice in running repairs 🙂
After the second pub stop it was to be a less aggressive route home. I set out after pretty much everyone else but made good progress through the miles. The arrows were up and I could sense Salisbury getting closer (it might have the tallest spire, but it seemed invisible from where I was cycling!). After a bit the arrows seemed to be missing, but I could tell from the road signs that I was heading the right way, so rather than double back I carried on.
Eventually I hit a main A road, Salisbury to the left. There was a cross roads, but no arrow there. So I decided enough was enough, and pulled out the phone and loaded the map, to my delight, instead of seeing the expected dozen miles or so it told me 3.71 miles to my goal. Hallelujah!
I set off, making good progress, even finding a slight short cut on what was obviously an old Roman road into Salisbury. Finally I was home and a hot shower beckoned.
Dinner was not long after, starting with a pint of cider, and then a filling mix of carbs and more carbs! I was too tired to eat, but I made the effort! A group of us decided to nip to the pub (the Hartlepool contingent had left a couple of half drunk bottles of wine behind the bar). I mostly snoozed through most of half a pint (wimp!) and we returned to the hostel and bed.
I zonked out completed for nearly 9 hours – only waking a couple of time as the dorm colleagues coughed and snored their way through the night.
Part two later… 🙂