Sticking to the plan

I’ve been sticking to the plan like glue and yesterday completed a 76km ride – my longest ever.

© OpenStreetMap contributors

I’m so pleased with the progress, a little over a year ago I had a mental block with riding over 35km on my own and here I am now churning out 75! I’m doing 100 in a couple of weeks – I AM doing 100 (had a few doubts yesterday but I’ve got this).

I had technical issues at the beginning and couldn’t get my planned route to load onto my Garmin. Luckily I’d planned and replanned it so many times I (almost) knew it by heart so set off with a fuzzy route in my head. Initially I hadn’t planned to go directly from Bedale to Northallerton, but this was the section I wasn’t so familiar with and decided to just take the main road. This meant I was about 10km short and needed to add an extra wiggle at the end to make up the distance, but these are the roads I know like the back of my hand so was happy with this plan.

The ride itself was uneventful – thankfully. The long stretch south was a wind tunnel but I had my lunch stop halfway down this section to break it up.

So, things I’ve learnt on my training that help me carry on:

  • Have an escape route; I had lots of opportunity to abandon the route if I needed to. This meant at various points I could say “still good, need to bail? nope, carry on”. If I had answered “I’m done” I always had a shortcut home. Psychologically this was huge for me, I always knew I was doing it because I wanted to, not because I had to and this kept me going.
  • Breakfast of champions; porridge works for me, with fruit, lots of water and two cups of coffee. Hydrate well before starting and I’ll be less likely to gulp down all my water too early.
  • Snacks; dates – I had one an hour, a little sugar bomb to lift the spirits.
  • Lunch; Yuck, I can’t do it. I took some sandwiches but by the time I was hungry I couldn’t eat them. I was told that my body will be diverting blood flow to my muscles to provide oxygen and digestion would be impacted – this makes sense and would explain why I find it hard to eat when I’m exercising for a long time (I can’t eat on long canoe trips either). A packet of Wotsits (nutritious or wot?) and a peanut cereal bar was all I could stomach.
  • Hydration; I’ve just bought some electrolyte tablets and will put one in one of my water bottles next time. This time I put orange squash in one of my bottles. My plan was to drink plain water first half of the ride and squash in the second but I learnt that I don’t like squash when I’m tired so next time I’ll save half my water for the final stretch and drink the squash/electrolyte drink in the middle bit. Oh, and sip don’t gulp. I put a timer on my watch to ping at regular intervals to remind me to drink, much better than waiting for thirst then gulping down half a litre and having water sloshing about causing an uncomfortable stomach.
  • Emotional Support Banana was eaten 10km from the end, gave me an excuse to sit on the verge, have a little rest and a chat with a field of sheep.
  • When I’m stuck in a wind tunnel and just grinding it out – sing show tunes. Yesterday I belted out a tuneless version of Don’t Rain on my Parade (I don’t know all the words and just make up the bits I don’t know). When I say tuneless I really do mean it, my dad used to say I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket and he wasn’t wrong. It doesn’t make me go any faster but it lifts my spirits. (I might not do this if I cycled through urban areas.)
  • Stretch at the end. It really does make a difference.

On a different topic, my last post was about saddles and I have an update. I tried the Specialized Women’s Power Pro with Mimic – this is the most recommended women’s saddle on the various forums I’ve looked at. Whilst it made a huge difference to my soft tissue problem it created a brand new issue on a far more sensitive part! The saddle has a very short nose that ended in exactly the wrong place for me and had to be returned. I’m now using a Specialized Phenom Expert, it’s a lot better – and at nearly £100 cheaper better for my wallet too. Still not perfect, I get sit bone pain after a few hours but a few minutes off the bike to let blood flow return resolves this. It is immensely better than any other saddle I’ve tried so it’s staying. Unfortunately, getting a perfect saddle can turn into a very expensive endeavour and I don’t have endless funds so this is where my budget is going to leave me for now.

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