As I mentioned in one of my previous missives, I’ve been upping the commuting miles considerably of late.
As good as this is, there’s only so far I can pedal in a morning due to the time restraints on my work hours. So last bank holiday, I decided to be up at my normal time and go for a 50-miler. Before I go any further, please remember just who’s doing this: a fat (18st 1Ib), broken, middle-aged has-been (or never-was).
The last time I pedalled 50 miles in one go was when I was about 21 or 22 years old. In fact, just before I took up mountain biking seriously, which tends to be less big on mileage, although harder work!
The route I decided on was this
With the stats from the ride as follows:
- Started: 3 May 2010, 04:56:23
- Ride Time: 3:48:16
- Stopped Time: 0:09:00
- Distance: 53.48 miles
- Average: 13.93mph
- Fastest Speed: 46.26mph
- Climb: 1437ft
- Calories: 4447
Bridgnorth beckoned. It’s a route I’ve driven and motorbiked on numerous occasions, so I wasn’t worried about navigation or having to read a map.
Since I have family duties, I was up at stupid o’ clock to get it done, so I could then crack on at being a dad and a husband, as opposed to a barmy fat cyclist.
The first part of the ride was up the Waseleys then over Romsley Hill, followed by a spell on quiet country lanes down to
at Clent. No cars or other traffic were in sight the benefit of an early start. I was also treated to a marvellous display from the local wildlife, with muntjac deer, squirrels, rabbits, kestrels and buzzards all stopping by to wonder what the hell a fat bloke was doing up at that time!
Soon, I’d passed through Stourbridge, which meant the road to Bridgnorth was next. This is a great motorbiking road and a small part of it is known locally as the ‘Mad Mile’. What I wasn’t expecting was just how bloody hilly it is. Combined with a fearsome headwind, it was giving me an unexpected work out. My plan was to stop by the River Severn in Bridgnorth and have my jam sandwiches and a drink, but that idea went out of the window about six miles out I’d gone into mission mode and decided just to get it done.
I turned left onto the
and suddenly it all became a lot easier; the head wind was now a helpful tailwind and I got a fair lick on along the 13 miles of the SevernValley into Kidderminster and out the other side towards Bromsgrove.
What I call my ‘pedalling bits’ were all functioning well: my cardio vascular system, my leg muscles and, er, ahem, gentleman’s area. By the time I reached Mustow Green, though, every other bit of my body had shut down. My neck, shoulders and upper arms were in bits, my hands were numb, my back was aching and my feet may as well not have been there, since I couldn’t feel them at all. They were there, though I looked down and checked! Time for a refuel then.
I sat on the wall outside the Skoda Dealers at Mustow, wolfed the jam sandwiches down, tried to get some life back into my extremities and drank a load of water. I guess I was stopped for about eight or nine minutes, and by now I just wanted to get home.
I carried on towards Bromsgrove and then, about six miles further on, turned left towards Catshill (just before Bromsgrove). But the wind changed on me the fearsome headwind was back with a vengeance! It’s all uphill from Catshill to my home. Add in the headwind and the last seven or eight miles blurred into a world of hurt. Every crank revolution seemed like a miracle, every yard gained was a victory, and each new one to pedal was another excuse to stop, I really can’t remember when I last had to dig in like that.
I’ve debated whether to mention what was on my lips on the A38 Rubery bypass. In the interests of honesty and journalistic integrity, I’ll tell you that I was panting, ‘Feck, feck, feck,’ in time with every crank revolution! I’m glad I was on my own, since anybody hearing that would have doubted my sanity.
But eventually, after what seemed like the longest few miles ever, I saw the end of my road. Salvation. A hot coffee welcomed me back home and, after a nice hot bath, I was normal family man again, not fat knackered cyclist.
The aftermath wasn’t as bad as I thought either. I was a bit sore for the rest of the day, but I was back commuting again with absolutely no ill effects after a day’s rest. The 20-miler to work is now a breeze and mentally the 50-miler seems to have removed some of the anxiety I felt at upping the mileage.
What’s next I wonder?