So then – now that I have a half marathon to start preparing for what to do I choose for my first serious training session? A bike ride of course.
During my ‘year off’ last year, as my ankle slowly started to recover I started to dig out my bike a bit. For five years it had stood unloved locked up and barely touched. However I figured that it would make a good alternative training device – good fitness and good for the leg strength without putting so much strain on the swollen Achilles – and I started to vary my morning commute by occasionally cycling to Bexhill station and getting the train from there.
It worked well and I started to sometimes venture to Cooden Beach (another 2.5 miles along the coast) and occasionally when I had meetings there, into our office in Eastbourne (18+ miles from home). Today I thought I’d go one better and carted the bike on the train from Bexhill to Lewes and left it there for the day ready to return to collect it this evening.
Setting off a little before 5 I made my way through Lewes and out along the new cycle path that runs alongside the main Lewes to Eastbourne road. Unfortunately it only runs the first and last few miles leaving a dangerous gap along the middle stretch (the bit where all the road accidents happen) so a diversion through the country lanes towards Ripe, Berwick and Arlington were called for. By the time I reached Berwick (10 miles) its fair to say that afternoon had definitely turned into evening and things almost took a turn for the worse as a 4×4 decided to pull out on me. I’d seen him coming and managed to just take evasive action. We both stopped and the driver kindly got out in order to best hear my forceful, but generally polite, remonstrations. He apologised. He hadn’t seen me. I pointed out my bright flashing light and hi-vis vest and informed him that I’d been watching him pull out. He’d not, not seen me; he’d just not looked. Still all was well and we both went safely on our ways (he overtook me giving me a very wide berth another 100 yards down the road).
The country lanes around Arlington are lovely. I know this as I’ve driven them in daylight. By now I was just seeing the little illuminated section of road in front but was still enjoying the ride. Just as I was preparing to head back to the A27 at Wilmington I came across a ‘National Cycle Route 2’ sign. Knowing that would take me back to Hastings I duly followed it off road and into a forest where I got lost and ended up coming out at Hailsham – a few miles further north than planned and well off the cycle route. Still, I knew the way from there and headed back towards Pevensey where, after 20+ miles and a bottle of Lucozade I decided I still had just about enough reserves to carry on rather than pick up the train which I always had thought I might end up doing.
And so to the final stretch. As I passed into Bexhill and along the familiar coast cycle path (back on route 2 by now) the legs started giving in and I watched the average speed on the cycle computer slowly drop (from 13.3 to 12.6 mph). By the time I made it onto Hastings Prom I knew there was no way I’d make it up the steep climb from the seafront to the top of the West Hill and so made the decision to stop the official timing at the bottom of Castle Hill Road and walk the bike up from there – a wise move – that was more than hard enough.
And so here I am. Absolutely shattered but 35 miles to the good and feeling suitably stiff but smug. This link gives an idea of the route – minus the diversion through the forest which was not the straight line shown on the map.
Now if only they’d let me cycle the Great North Run…