Saturday was my last big training ride before the Cotswold Bike Ride on Sunday.
I met up with some friends at their place and no messing it was straight up Leckhampton Hill, just outside Cheltenham, the steepest, longest hill I have ever ridden. And then, just near the top of the hill where it kind of flattens out on a turn, they took a left up an even steeper devilishly cruel hill, following by further ascending off-road. By the time the trail flattened out, it felt that we must surely be somewhere a lot nearer the clouds.
The rest of the 30 mile ride over to the Daneway pub at Sapperton was a doddle in comparison and I can grudgingly admit Leckhampton hill was worth it for the return downhill at 38.4mph.
Hills aren’t really my thing. Well, going up them isn’t but I am learning to cope by finding a rhythm I can stick with, gritting the teeth and counting backwards from 200 – some feat through gritted teeth. Psychologically, I am all the time clinging to the notion that for every gritty teeth uphill there will be a lovely worthwhile “wheeeee” downhill. It’s a stretch of imagination akin to believing in the tooth fairy.
I am going equipped with ready-sliced malt loaf (things have really moved into the 21st century in the World of Malt Loaf – you used to have to cut it yourself, by which time it would have reduced to dense cubes like a particularly exotic form of cannabis resin). I will have an Energy Drink – I usually take only water. I will take a corned beef and Branston sandwich, which will inevitably have been crushed wafer thin. I will push the boat out and take not one, but two bananas.
I might take a music player in case I need to use it, but to be honest, I doubt I will. On roads you need to hear the traffic around you and up in the Cotswold hills, I’d rather hear the skylarks than have Gwen Stefani screaming in my ears.
At the last count there were nearly 1,000 cyclists registered for the ride so goodness knows how it’ll be organised if they all turn up, as I intend to, at 8.30am ready for a 9am start.
I’m planning to ride with five others. If we spread out we can hopefully catch up with each other at the refreshment places. There may be conversation and merry banter. There may be wailing and gnashing of teeth but whatever there is, it’ll be an unforgettable experience and we stand to raise a nice wodge of cash for the British Heart Foundation, thanks to some supportive sponsors.
Although there are many welcoming Cotswold inns along the way, we will observe a “no alcohol” rule on the basis that it would severely limit motivation to finish.
And I must finish because this one’s for my dad, who died of a heart attack 30 years ago, aged 57. He’d been a keen racing cyclist in his youth and a member of Cwmcarn Paragon – a club with an illustrious history which is still producing great riders today. He saw my brother become a top junior racing cyclist and I think he’d be pleased to know I was going for a decent ride in his memory.
Now I must go see what I can do about that soft back tyre….