Bike Ride Day 5 - 25th July 2010
Today was a long cycle, darting in and out between England and Wales all day and trying to hug the flatter land from the Black Mountains to just North of Oswestry. A crow could have flown this much straighter but I was happy to meander around the countryside looking for the level ground!
It was meant to be almost exactly 100 miles but 20 miles in to the ride I looked at the map and realised I could take a small detour which would save me 4 miles, so I did - making the day 96 miles in total.
Once again, the wind was against me for much of the day, restricting my speed and probably adding an extra hour's cycling to the day - which isn't much fun when your legs are aching and your backside is already saddle-sore.
But the flatter terrain was a Godsend and even if I was slow it was much more bearable than it has often been to date.
It's interesting - I had specifically chosen to cycle this on my own, and had been looking forward to some solitude. But I've found that it's a long and sometimes lonely day in the saddle, because rather than ambling along leaving your mind a certain latitude to mull over the meaning of life, you're constantly checking for potholes in the road, watching the traffic, avoiding lorries (lorry drivers have become the thing I would consign to Room 101), checking and re-checking your route (I decided against forking out £400 for a cycle GPS that would have told me exactly when to take a turn, opting for the slightly lower-tech solution of writing out basic directions and sellotaping them to my handlebars), and making sure you're properly hydrated and nourished. Oh yes, and every few minutes telling yourself not to be such a wimp because loads of people have done this and it's not really hurting you half as much as you think it is.
None of which leaves much time for appreciating the scenery or deep and meaningful private conversations with self.
So today it was lovely when an Irishman drew alongside on his bike and rode with me for about 10 miles or so. I enjoyed the company and regretted having to turn off on my route. Maybe if I did this again (ha ha - no chance) I would do it differently.........
Anyway, a long, tiring day but it was lovely to arrive at our B&B for tonight, directly opposite Whittington Castle. Home from home!
Tomorrow I set off unaided and unsupported for 48 hours. Another unexplored aspect of the odyssey so far.......