Certainly the discomfort of sitting in a saddle for hours on end has faded into numb memory, but the second 100 miles of the 230 mile total that I completed on Friday were a lot harder than the first.
Grinding out big miles is essential at some pint before the TCR if you are to prepare yourself mentally for the rigors of a race that demand that you do this day in, day out for two weeks. It is impossible to imagine the feeling of physical exhaustion and therefore begin to recognise where your limits are, unless you've been there. These are invaluable lessons.
There is some stunning countryside in the heart of Leicestershire. There are also lots and lots of short, rolling hills. Lots of them. Hills make for exhilarating descents, but they also make for thigh burning climbs. Good training as it happens for what lies ahead.
All I do recall is that by the time I had completed 170 miles and was somewhere like Stafford, I felt physically sick and more depleted than I had expected. The toil of wind and hills had drained me of energy and I needed to eat...BIG.
There was not a great choice in the high street, it has to be said. If I recall correctly there was a choice of almost every kind of fatty fast food you could think of, and thankfully a kebab shop that advertised that it also made spag bol. I opted for a double portion of that. Paid a King's ransom for the pleasure and then forced myself to eat what my body was determined to expel. The joys of searching your limits.
Within half an hour I felt like a new man. The mileage crept slowly upwards toward my longest ever distance in a day and by the time I was within reach of Shrewsbury, I had passed 208 miles and counting.
The old Roman road of Watling Street, the A5, straight as an arrow drew me into Wales, a landmark in itself and having negotiated a couple of roundabouts on Shrewsbury's southern bypass, I headed into the Shropshire countryside and the hills of my birth.
I called ahead to speak to my brother, towards whose house in Aberystwyth I was headed and at 231 miles, completely spent and with a forecast of overnight rain, I gladly accepted his invitation to pick me up and cart me the reamining 55 miles over the Welsh mountains.
More to come...
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