I think I will sleep well tonight.
I have that all over physical tiredness that isn’t painful at all. It is just settling in around my shoulders like a heavy blanket. It’s no surprise really. I was turning those wheels around for over 56 miles today.
How on earth did I manage that?
It’s surprising how it creeps up on you, when you start doing something regularly. Chris reckoned that it takes about a month to start noticing a difference in fitness, and it’s been pretty much a month since I started on these bike rides. Chris’s level of fitness is on a different plane. For him, today was a nice relaxing day out with friends. But this isn’t about comparisons with other people. This is seeing how I’ve progressed compared to me.
Today I definitely felt a lot less puffed out, apart from some of the longer hills, and I certainly had the stamina for three quarters of the ride, which is a big step up from my first couple of goes.
My main reason for jumping on to the PROBs (Pensby Runners On Bikes) Thursday rides is to build up for marathon training next year. However, I’m not starting these Thursdays with a marathon in my head. I’m thinking that the day will be a nice (not so relaxing) day out with friends, and I’m always amazed that we can cover so much distance on our bikes.
Today, for instance, we cycled all the way to Delamere Forest. That’s nearly twenty miles away from the Hadlow Road Station Café, the official starting point. I had already given myself nearly an extra mile as I cycled from Hooton Station right past Hadlow Road and almost on the Chester High Road because my sense of direction is so bad.
The sun was shining as I found the gang sipping coffees on the defunct platform. This station has not seen active service for 60 years, but has a Grade II listing, allowing it to appear, in perpetuity, as it was. There is a short piece of track still in front but it goes nowhere and the path on either side is part of the Wirral Way.
There was quite a crowd but it turned out that most were returning whence they came or doing a shorter, circular route. I was hoping that I wouldn’t be the weakest link by absolute miles as I was last week. But I was assured by Dave and Gary that I would not be left behind. Not that I was last week, I hasten to add, but I was given a great work out.
Gary was our glorious leader for the day, and he’d assessed the route. Despite his Garmin playing up, he knew, roughly, where he was going. At some point, when I’ve done a bunch of rides, and feel it’s justified, I may purchase some tech like this, but in the meantime, it’s a good incentive to keep the cadence up and stick, like glue, to the crew.
We had a few showers going for a while, including quite a heavy one, and I wondered what I’d do, if it stayed bucketing all day. My coat is probably showerproof, but going by the heavy downpour we’d had a few weeks back, it definitely wasn’t waterproof. I should probably keep another top in my pannier, or something like that, but I haven’t got around to it. The rain abated, luckily, and Gary took us all along a nice route, with generally, quiet roads. By the time we got to our cafe in the heart of the forest, the blue skies had returned.
The lunch stop is a great dangling carrot for me. The thought of it keeps me going all morning, because, apart from the odd regroup, or a minute or two to take off or put on a layer, we don’t really stop for two hours. As a workout this is intense for me, but I’m improving. I sat down having ordered my tuna mayo filled jacket potato, and surprisingly, didn’t feel exhausted like I have done in the past. I liked that non-feeling.
This café actually sits in a working train station, which opened in 1870, although all the ticketing is automated. We ate our food by an old fire place, so I reckon this was the station master’s spot. There is something lovely about old railway stations, especially when they give you a massive baked potato and don’t scrimp on the filling.
Setting off for the return journey, my thighs seemed to have solidified a little. I normally flag in the second half, but with a little warming up, I got my rhythm back for a while. We returned along a fabulously flat and well-tarmacked path which had once been a railway line (is there a theme here?) and now called the Millennium Greenway. It included another lovely bridge over the M56, cunningly called the Millennium Greenway Bridge.
Gary suggested to me in the latter stages of the ride, as we were riding through Burton Marshes, and when I was genuinely flagging, that I would be able to ride all the way home after a quick break. The Harp Inn is on the edge of Neston, just another six and a half miles to my house. A lovely quaint pub on the edge of the marshes. It was our end point, and a chance for nearly everyone to have a well-earned pint. I wasn’t entirely feeling Gary’s confidence in me, so I had a very non-alcoholic lime and tonic to increase my chances.
As Gary lives just up the road from me, he kindly led the way. A mere six and half miles felt a lot more manageable after that little pitstop, and I got home very proud of myself after a superb day out with friends, and very much ready for another dinner.