So, my comeback that refuses to comeback continues….
On Friday I had a prawn sandwich for lunch from a little cafe in north Manchester and a short while later started to feel rough. I got really sweaty, went home, went to bed and later on Friday evening was sick. I then didn’t eat till Saturday dinner time although that was a big meal. All in all though not a fantastic preparation for a day out on the bike.
Sunday was a deceptive day weather-wise, it was really chilly first thing but later warmed up quite a lot in the sunshine.
There were 7 takers for the long run to Loggerheads, Sam, Alan, Kev, Rob, Rich, runs leader Carol and me. Carol decided that a steady and fairly direct route would be nice so about 80 miles or so would be covered.
Sam did the majority of the donkey work in to a surprisingly solid headwind. Everyone else but me did good turns on the front, I stayed out of the cruel wind as much as I could but even so I started to have pre-cramp twinges before we got to Norley Lane which was the first place I got dropped, everyone else scampering up the slope like spring lambs just released from a pinfold. Kindly they waited for me for the first of many times at the top of the hill.
Sam and the others kept a nice pace out through the forest and hence to Chester via Waverton all without major mishap, my cramps coming along once every so often now. The slight uphill road from Chester out to Kinnerton is always a grind and our pace dropped slightly. Even from where I was, tucked behind everyone, the wind was horrid. I think it had so much effect on Sam he even had to breathe once or twice.
We took the right turn past the Royal Oak and I was promptly dropped, my heart rate over 180, eyeballs hanging out, legs really starting to cramp whilst up front a couple of people were putting in efforts with the others rolling up the hill and chatting like it was a sweet summer day. Thankfully the group waited for me again at the top where there had been a discussion about cutting out the Sunspot climb and going direct via Mold. By the time I reached the group not only had they had ample time for a cup of tea, they had also decided to go up the Sunspot. What joy.
Onto the rolling roads towards Treuddyn and in spite of a good, steady pace being made by Sam and somebody else my legs were really going, at the same time crampy and weak & I was dropping off the back here and there. It was not till afterwards that I realised that this was me scraping the barrel of my blood-sugar reserves.
A re-grouping was made at the bottom of the Sunspot climb before Sam decided to make an effort to the top as he had been going so slow all day on account of me that his heart had not actually had to beat. Kev, Alan and Rob rode up together before Alan (who is sooooo unfit!!) gave a cheeky look around and disappeared in a puff of tyre smoke. Earlier in the day Kev had been telling me about how, for health reasons he was now taking it easy and would not be racey any more. Really? That’s not what I heard was happening going up the Sunspot…
Meanwhile, possibly in another time dimension, Carol and Richard were waiting for me. ‘Get on my wheel’, they were both saying, unfortunately they couldn’t ride slow enough for me and still keep their balance. My legs had gone altogether, the cramp had stopped now and I was a hollow shell, I was now with 0% sugar. Just like diet Coke, only less damaging to your teeth. After too long I asked if anyone had spare food (I had eaten mine hours ago) and gels and things were willingly offered and greedily consumed. An age later my escort and I made it to the top of the hill, where other kindly people gave me more food before we set off for Loggerheads.
As you know the road that turns right at the top of the Sunspot and heads for the Mold / Ruthin bypass goes down hill before then rolling along. The gels and food had not yet got through my system so my legs were still in a different dimension which meant I was dropped immediately there was an incline. Rob drew the short straw and waited for me this time. I know he was chatting to me but I genuinely have no idea what was said as my head had gone by this time too & all I could think about was the road and staying upright. The bypass was eventually met and Rob handed over shepherding duties to Carol so while the rest went ahead Carol cajoled me down to the waiting bosom of Florence. Caffi Florence that is.
I got as much food inside me as I could, too much as it happens. The stay at the cafe was all too brief for me and before I knew it we were heading up and down the Rainbow with a tailwind and a mostly downhill journey home. I did get distanced a little around Padeswood but nothing too shocking. It was great to see Jim Duffy on the Kinnerton hill and he joined us for the journey home.
Although a very reasonable pace was being kept, on Lache Lane I was really, really hot and feeling somewhat sick. Kev wanted to take his rain jacket off as well so we stopped together before catching up with the group again in the City.
In Chester, Richard peeled off to head home and Kev got on the front direct down the A54 and although he was keeping a very mild pace I was sweating like a Heffalump and breathing like an over stimulated ape. I was also feeling more and more green. We went through Ashton Hayes and then before the inevitable gallop through the forest I slipped off the back, stopped at the side of the road and vomited. Nasty.
Up ahead Rob had kindly waited for me and we crawled through the forest together meeting up with most of the others at Hatchmere, Alan and Sam having to go on ahead.
Our little group wheeled along, all chatting but me, all of us in our own ways having an excellent time. Finally we got to Hartford and my friends, feeders and protectors went their own way and I and my thoroughly empty legs and body went mine.
Without a doubt the hardest day on the bike I have had in years and years; at the end of the ride my Garmin Recovery Advisor just shrugged and shook it’s head, baffled at such stupidity. I know most people won’t understand this but I had a great day, not while I was going through it of course, for several hours all I wanted to do was just lie down at the side of the road and fall asleep. After it all though, upon reflection, the feeling of comradeship and of satisfaction at conquering something so ridiculous kind of makes it all worthwhile. Perhaps.
In any case I may just go out on my bike again.