My longest ride yet

I’d originally planned to go out riding with Malcolm yesterday morning at 9.30 but when I got up at 7.30 to get ready it was raining. I called Malcolm and it was the same with him. As the weather forecast was much better for today (sunny intervals and 23 degrees) we decided to take a rain check on Saturday and meet today instead at 9am. 

On Saturday evening I made my energy drinks up and a snack to have on the road and got all my kit ready. Pretty much everyday I make my kids breakfast and I’ve found getting out of the house to make the meeting point on time can be a bit tricky. It was 19km to my meeting point with Malcolm up on top of the Ashdown Forest and I had guessed I would need 45 minutes to get there. The bike just needed some air in the tyres and a bit of oil on the chain. 

I managed to get out the door at 8.20, only 5 minutes late and got going. Before I left today I’d also taken a leaf out of the Chris Carmichael Book that I’ve recently read (The Time-crunched Cyclist: Fit, Fast and Powerful in 6 Hours a Week) which suggests you drink an energy drink before you leave the house and I think that turned out to be quite important today. 

To cut to the chase Malcolm and I rode about 80km together today and I rode just under 40km to and from our meeting point. My previous longest ride was 101km at the end of May last year on a very hot day, where I hadn’t taken enough fluids and I completely blew up after about 75km. I had to stop at a farmhouse to ask for some water to refill the single bottle I’d stupidly taken with me. The end result was a very low average speed about 22kmh but I was delighted to have cracked the 100km barrier. It’s taken me over 14 months to do it again – which probably proves it is a big deal for me at least. 

Today was a good adventure though. Malcolm started by suggesting we ride back down the hill I’d just ridden up so that we could ride back towards Tunbridge Wells then turn and ride up the other way up into the Ashdown Forest via Friars Gate which in fairness is quite a good climb that starts steeper and eases off. Once we got to the top we headed down to Maresfield and around the edge of Uckfield. It was then on to Isfield and around to entrance to the Bentley Wildfowl and Motor Museum (http://www.bentley.org.uk/). From there we looped around and headed towards Sheffield Park (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-sheffieldparkgarden) which is a fantastic place to visit as is the excellent Bluebell railway (http://www.bluebell-railway.co.uk/) that we rode past just before getting to Sheffield Park. 

The reason for going this way in particular was that the A275 is a good long climb – you can see it on the map from about the 80km mark. Malcolm was right it was a good one and I managed to keep a good pace almost to the top – the last couple of kms was a bit of a struggle. I was starting to get a bit tired by then anyway to be honest. As well as the energy drink I had before I left I had two more on the bike and I’d pretty much run out of drink by the time I got back to Malcolm’s car at the top of the forest. From there it was about 20km home and I was running late too. I took a slightly longer route home to cut down on the traffic I’d encounter. 

Sadly my Garmin let me down again as you can see from the data – it decided not to record the big climb up the A275 via speed/cadence – just heart rate (which shows I was working pretty hard) – so the Garmin only thinks I did 98km. I knew there was a problem out on the bike as we stopped and the Garmin was saying I’d done 75km. Next time we stopped was back at Malcolm’s car and it was still saying I’d done 75kms – very annoying indeed. 

So I’ve had to guess my riding time as the Garmin isn’t correct. I’d say the average speed for the ride was about 26kmh, which I’m pretty happy with. 

Thanks for reading.