The idea for this ride has been with me for many years. I have looked at vaious types of ride including a big offroad adventure, although I was much younger then! None of them came to fruition. No time or no money, whatever way you look at it, I didnt prioritise it. What is different now? Well as I said in the blog earlier, I have been unwell. Coming out of that is a blessing and the charity ride, I hope, a celebration. 'Released from Treatment', that is how it feels.
The ride itself is around 3800 miles and uses huge sections of the National Cycle Network . The idea to promote 'Sustrans' came from this fact. To ride around the UK, I can use thousands of miles of signed route and traffic free sections, set up by guess who? Yes, Sustrans. Brilliant. I then faced the small issue of which way, clockwise or anti-clockwise. Clockwise means the hard stuff up front but prevailing wind behind. It also means being in Scotland before the main midge season. Anybody who has been there will not be suprised that I want to avoid it. They are the real terrorists as far as I'm concerned. Anti clockwise feels right. I will have to tackle Cornwall and it's lovely hills first, but then I get into wilder and wilder country as I head North, escaping from the South East. All the way south I will be in mountainous environs, my favourite, and yes, it will put me later on the Scottish West Coast.
Hmm, choices. I have been to Scotland and supplied the midges with much needed sustanance for many years now, but I have found that they are quite bearable nearer the coast and at their pesky biting worst in the middle of the mountains and Glens. I'm going to take the risk of anti-clockwise because it feels right.
I reckon I will need around 4-5000 Kcal a day on this ride. Stopping for a decent lunch will be a must, not a choice. As I'm self-supporting ie: camping, I will have to buy, haul and cook the food I require. Not an easy task and I'm sure that will occasionally be substituted with the pub, chippy etc! The thing is, I have changed my diet really radically and it suits me, so I will try to keep to this for the ride. I have far more energy and the ups/downs are less pronounced than they have been. Eat Natural are supplying chewy bars. I asked them purposefully because I seem to get just what I need from them. Drinking is also important. A minimum of two full bottles to start each day and maybe an isotonic for recovery.
I have based the ride on days of 40-50 miles. Not too far you might think, but remember I will be on the bike for nearly 90 days and I'm no great athlete. Recovery is based on one day off for every three ridden. In reality I need to be quite a lot more flexible than this to maintain my mental health as much as my physical health. There are lots of places I want to spend time exploring and many friends around the country too. There would be no point to be in doing this as a time trial. maybe twenty years ago that would be different, but I will take the time to enjoy it. Inevitably, there are longer and shorter days. I've tried to minimise these and keep them to legs that don't look too hard or legs that look really hard. Ha HA Ha, as if this is how it will turn out!! Still, you have to have an idea or your stuffed before you start. Whether Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance depends on the quality of the planning, doesnt it? More importantly, it helps me to get my head around what it is I'm taking on.
My own preperation is going well. I can still ride a bike without falling over (yet) and each ride is adding to the total miles. I am not intending to train 'properly' until next winter. The main reason is that I know from previous experience that I can get too intense and I just want to enjoy riding again whilst avoiding injury. I do have a sports science degree which helps and there are some excellent forums on the web. I am curently riding 2/3 times a week. One for shopping (20miles with the trailer), One on the flat, 30/40/ miles,working on cadence and therefore my aerobic system/ cardio vascular stuff, and finally, one on the roads, 30-50 miles, as I feel, a day out. Closer to the ride ie: next winter, I will put in more structure and specific work. I also do lots of stretching to try to avoid injuries, avoid caffeine, apart from my morning kickstart, and as I said eat lots of fruit, veg and fish. It's hard to do because if I overdo it then the gremlins get out and I have what I consider to be a 'bad-head day'. Not nice and that leads to sleep/ lack of sleep, as well as withdrawal, uncertainty and depression. I have to pull myself back from trying too hard. "remember to enjoy it" and "there's no race" are things I think to stay in the right zone.
Finally, Next year, I have planned two tours to use as 'markers' and get used to the shock of touring. By that, I mean riding more than usual, pulling a trailer full of gear every day, living outside and managing myself outside of my home environment. The first will take me around the South West Penninsula, and the second from North Wales all the way down Lon Las Cymru via chepstow and Bristol and back to my house in west Devon. These will let me know what I am doing right and wrong and which gear is right and wrong. I will still have the Autumn and Winter to make changes.
So, I will leave it there for now. I'm open to all suggestions and any knowledge of any part of the route would be especially useful.