London to Posh…bosh!

Woo-hoo…one hundred and eighteen miles. Easily my longest ride EVER!

With a previous ‘personal best’ of forty seven and a half miles (which was recorded less than a month ago) it’s fair to say it was an ambitious target but, on Easter Sunday, I headed back from London to my parents’ house in Peterborough using a route made up of back roads. Some thoughts on the day…

I found a route on the Cyclist’s Touring Club‘s route list that got me halfway (London to Sandy), and concocted the second half having found myself a nice open source mash-up of all the National Cycle Network (NCN).

Most of the journey was okay but parts of the NCN are, in all honesty, an absolute joke! There were points where I was bouncing my way for miles along a rut made from cars passing through a field and other parts would not be out of place on the Paris to Roubaix route. It was certainly an experience…

I probably couldn’t have asked for better conditions. A light shower as I set off in the early hours, but this soon disappeared and I had a mix of sunshine and clouds to accompany my journey. Whilst it wasn’t ‘warm’ warm it wasn’t particularly cold either, although the North / North Westerly headwind certainly made the day harder than perhaps it could have been!

I was a little concerned about bonking (no, not that…it’s the cycling equivalent of ‘hitting the wall’) and probably had a bit too much food and drink on the way because of this but I’d much rather over-compensate and make it over a distance I’d never tackled before. Anyway, I got through…

1x Soreen Malt Loaf (Buttered)
1x Tuna/Sweetcorn sandwich
1x KitKat Chunky
1x Mars Bar
1x Nutri-Grain; Apple
2x Mule Bars; Summer Pudding (these were probably unneccesary with <10 miles to go!)

1x Lucozade Sport (500ml)
1x Coca-Cola (500ml)
2x Water (500ml)

Phew! I left the house at 07.40 and got through the front door at my parent’s place at around 18.45…yep, it was a long old day overall, but ultimately satisfying. It was certainly a nice feeling pulling onto the last road knowing where I’d started from.

Quite pleased to have got through it without too many niggles. My left leg felt a little ‘dead’ the next day and my back was aching like anything before getting a night’s sleep – I have a bike fitting due this week however, so it’s probably a good thing to have something to tell them before they set up the bike to my ideal.

Overall I’m so glad I’ve done it. I’d mentioned it during the week to a couple of people and they doubted me so it’s good to show I can see through my plans – bodes well for the trip at the end of May anyway!

I was amazed at how quiet the majority of the route was (even though it was back roads), and quite how far you can go without seeing anybody or signs of civilisation. Better planning would have reminded me that it was Easter Sunday so the majority of shops would be shut, but it was still interesting to see the distance you can go between any significant settlements.

Final thought of the day: the Garmin etrex Vista HCx is an absolute gem of a gadget! Yes, bikeroutetoaster has a habit of crashing and losing a route…but if you save regularly, then convert it using GPSbabel you’ve got a pretty much fool-proof navigation system. Now just need to remember to re-name routepoints to something useful (Lxxxx or Rxxxx to signal left or right instead of the generic RPxxxx would be a start!) and I’ll be well on my way.

Apologies if I have rambled at all…I’m still pretty excited by it all and wanted to get bits down whilst they’re fresh in the mind. Next weekend I’ve got my first Sportive planned. The Essex Roads’ Spring Lambs event no less. One hundred and fifty kilometres. Bring. It. On!

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