As my foot is still not playing ball, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and get out on the bike today.
Looking back, I was surprised to realise it was last October when I had previously carried out a long cycle round the Guildford area, which, clearly, had been the point at which my running had started to ramp up in distance.
Hilly cycling is actually supposed to be quite good cross-training for the legs, for uphill trail running as well, so I felt comfortable planning this for the morning. The only worry had been the weather, which had been good yesterday (Saturday) but was forecast to return to the recent normal inclemency later today. Still, nothing ventured….
I have tended to stick to the roads when biking, even though I ride a beat up old mountain bike which would be more suited to trail cycling, as it is more the time and distance that I want to cover, with hills thrown in. Today, I planned on doing the 30 odd miles I had done in the past, but with the addition of the few extra miles I had been running over my last few long runs, around the Surrey hills.
When I started out, I was lucky with the weather, and although it was a touch colder than I would like on bike with the wind, I soon warmed up and forgot the cold as I battled to remove the sweat from my eyes!
The route I took today has quite a pleasant warm up section to the south of Guildford before a steep series of hills as the climb over the North Downs is completed. On the other side of this, there is the complementary downhill though, and the route through Normandy, Pirbright and Mayford has a very slight downhill gradient which is interspersed with the odd short rise here and there.
From Send to East Clandon, the trend reverses though, and the average gradient is uphill for several miles, culminating this time in a long slow ride up to the top of the downs, some 10 miles to the east, as the crow flies, of where I had been just over an hour earlier. I was now on the part of the route that I had been running on recently and although my motive force was not quite as I may have preferred, it was still great to be doing the same route under my own steam.
Of course, after the hill, comes the downhill and this one was Coombe Lane 🙂 I have done this in the opposite direction in the past and it is a challenge! This way is much more fun :wow: Unfortunately, the speed with which I covered the descent was over all too quickly and I now had another series of rises to contemplate through the villages I have come to know well in the Surrey hills; Shere, Farley Green and Shamley Green.
Knowing the route well is a huge advantage in my mind, as I’m sure it is in general. However, it is also interesting to notice that the perspective you get, on familiar routes, is totally different when on a bike. For instance, I find I am much more sensitive to changes in gradient on a bike compared to running, presumably because the differential between high and low speed on a bike is so much greater, a similar scalar is also applied to gradient sensitivity. Or maybe I just need to try a bit harder 😉 I also find that the horizon on long straight roads approaches noticeably faster than the foreground when on a bike, almost like a depth-of-field compression effect. Most bizarre.
By the end of the ride, a mere 38 miles, my quads and calves were starting to tell me about it, after over 2 1/2 hours welded to the bicycle my ‘seat’ was in danger of losing all sense of feeling and my unmentionables will have to remain unmentioned.
It was a good ride though, and I was glad to have done it, and will probably end up doing the same next weekend too.
After all, I wasn’t overtaken by any elderly women with their weekly vegetable shopping in their front baskets, so I must be improving.