As Lance Armstrong famously said in this year's Tour de France "Some days you're the hammer, some days you're the nail".
I've had a good run recently, I've been feeling pretty good and it's been showing in my times as my average speeds have been increasing even over reasonably hilly terrain – so I've been getting quite bullish about my form. However, I think I've just found the point where you struggle a bit after a good run of form – the one step back after two steps forward.
On Thursday last week, Warren had taken a day off work and we agreed to meet for a ride. Within a mile or two of leaving home I was feeling slow and my legs ached. I just felt sluggish. I pushed on to our meeting point and took the least hilly road to get there (it only makes a very small difference as climbing is unavoidable) but by the time I got to our meeting spot (17km from home) I felt as tired as I normally do after 70km. Oddly though at that point, my bike computer was saying I've averaged 30kmh, which is very good …. so I'm not sure I believe it.
Luckily for me when Warren arrived he said he wasn't feeling on peak form either. It was a cool and grey day and rain was threatening. We both had arm warmers on and I've started wearing my lovely merino wool socks, winter is on its way. We decided to head up to the Ashdown forest and set off via Mark Beech, Cowden and Hartfield. When we got up onto the higher parts of the forest we stopped to look at the view (and a snack) on Colemans Hatch Road, where I've taken a number of photos over the last few months. Whilst we were talking it started to rain and the clouds to the South (where the rain was coming from) looked very dark indeed.
I hate riding in the rain and fortunately for me – so does Warren, so we agreed to head back towards our starting point. I threw in a couple of steep climbs on the way – Beech Green Lane between Withyham and Blackham and the road up from Bradley Lane to Bassetts Lane on the other side of the A264. Neither of them are killers but they get the heart rate going. By the time we got back to Chiddingstone we'd ridden away from the rain but neither of us had been powering through the countryside. As we lamented our lack of form outside the pub in Chiddingstone the rain caught up with us. Fortunately it eased off after about 15minutes and I made my escape. I was absolutely shattered when I got home as I'd probably not eaten enough on the ride.
Sadly my poor assessment of the ride (pace wise) was confirmed when I plugged the data into my PC – I'd ridden 2km shorter than my last ride but had been 22 minutes slower (average speed just under 4kmh down on the last ride). Ouch. On the plus side I'd climbed nearly 200m more on this ride – but that doesn't make 22m difference.
It was good to get another 75km ridden – but today I had definitely felt like the nail rather than the hammer.
Thanks for reading.