As cycling fever grips the UK, with Bradley Wiggins about to win the Tour de France and his Sky teammate Christopher Froome in Second, I thought it only fitting that my cycle this morning incorporated part of the route, which is to be used next weekend as part of the Olympics road cycling.
I was not up so early this morning; it seems I always have trouble motivating myself for the early morning cross-training sessions. Nevertheless, eventually I did make it out and started off on a similar route to a few weekends ago, in order to warm up.
Mercifully, the sun had also decided to put in an appearance yesterday after what seems like months of vacationing in a different part of the world, and it’s emergence continued this morning with higher temperatures and brighter skies forecast.
So it was that I started out on my now normal route around Guildford, with a bit of a flattish warmup before starting up some hills. I was constantly on the look out for additional miles though, and extending my circuit slightly, so when I was passed by a couple of guys in their TdF regalia and carbon road bikes, I decided to follow them for a bit. They turned off towards Puttenham, a route I’d run a few months back so I felt no hesitation in taking the detour. With me on my mountain bike I struggled to keep them in sight for long, an episode which was to be repeated throughout my journey today 🙁
After going through a place called Seale, I turned up towards the hogsback road; this traverses the backbone of the north downs to Guildford and after a hairpin found myself travelling back to where I had been 10 minutes ago, and although the road was quite busy, it was quite pleasant to get a bit of pace up on the long straight, and after turning off the hogsback and picking up my normal route through Normandy and Pyrford, I was pleased that I had already found an extra 10km or so.
As I have done this ‘route’ a dozen times over the last year or so, in it’s ever evolving state to add a few miles here and a few miles there, it is now interesting to note my psychological state each time I get to a particular point on the circuit. As with endurance running, the longer you run the more comfortable and at ease you become with running long distances. Sounds pretty obvious I guess but what I mean is that when you train your body for distance, your brain too becomes far more at ease with the thought of distance, and what was once a major effort to complete, suddenly becomes a mere instant in a larger part of a total training programme.
It also seems to me that you never lose this ‘brain training’. Unlike your fitness, which starts to deteriorate noticeably after only a couple of weeks at best, and other physical associations, such as muscle specificity, bone strength and the structure and flexibility of all the myriad tendons and ligaments which allow the human body to perform, are unlikely to remain adapted for long once the athlete stops training for a specific sport. A real case of use it or lose it. As the body returns to a natural state for it’s environment though, the brain training it once had seems locked away in some deep recesses of the memory, only to be awakened next time the body experiences some similar and familiar sporting effort.
In my case, this seems to be distance. My mind has no regard for distance. Or at least it does not intimidate me in the same way that it did in the past. I have run 100 miles. I know I can do it again. I know I will do it again. My body is just a little ‘out of phase’ at the moment 🙂
Having passed through Send, I now took my second detour, this time heading off parallel to the A3 before hitting the village of Ripley which the Olympic cycling route passes through next week. I wondered for a brief instant if I would be able to work out the route if there were any turnings to negotiate. I needn’t have worried. Following the bright yellow No Stopping and Tow Away Zone signs positioned every 100 yards, was a pretty strong indication I was on the right route.
There were quite a few cyclists out who seem to have had a similar idea to mine, although the route is always popular, taking in, as it does, a variety of climbs around the Surrey hills and the North downs. So of course even by the time I had made it along the Epsom Road towards Guildford and started up the major hill, Staple Lane, I had been passed by several other self propelled, two wheeled road users. Up the hill I didn’t fair too badly and actually managed to pass another cyclist, although admittedly, he was stopped halfway up the hill, chatting on his mobile phone 😉
Although the journey down Coombe Lane the other side was fun, by this stage I had had enough and it was a hard slog over the next 15k or so to just get home.
My ‘Goodness Shakes’ was waiting for me at home and again, after some breakfast I was feeling much better. I was chastised soon after Liz got home as I had not had any breakfast before I left and it was 11:30 by the time I had got back. Lesson learned!
It was fun to go along part of the route to be used for the Olympics next weekend, but I have no doubt whatsoever that Messer’s Wiggins and Cavendish will be travelling a lot faster up Staple Lane than I did today 🙂