Yesterday I went for a cycle ride as part of my preparation for riding 75 miles in May. I went on my full suspension mountain bike looking for off road trails. I'd guess that 3/4 of the ride was off road but may be wrong. It was 25 miles in total. Seven miles short of my longest ride in the past year.
However, yesterday I planned to ride again today, and the intention was fulfilled. This time I took my hard tail mountain bike, fitted with 1.25" slick tires and a single 46 tooth front chain wheel. The tires provide less rolling resistance, while the front chain wheel provides much higher gearing, both combined enable me to cycle faster on the roads than with more usual mountain bike gears and tires.
For the ride today I was aiming for around 40 miles to break my own personal distance record, and I wanted to cycle somewhere a bit different. With an area in mind, off I set with 24mph north easterly winds carrying me along, but by the time I got to enjoying unfamiliar roads and scenery, I was fast approaching the point where I'd need to turn and face those winds head on.
The wind wasn't too bad until I had to climb up out of a shallow valley following the main road along the top. The journey soon became a joyless freezing cold grind struggling to maintain speed above 10mph, accompanied by bursts of fast moving traffic. After two and a half miles I headed back down to lower ground hoping for a break from the wind, but without luck. I stopped under a bridge with my hopes for shelter met with limited success. As I tucked clothing back in and did up ventilation zips in my jacket, a couple of walkers agreed with me about how chilly it was.
After several more miles of head wind, I became very concerned that 75 miles is a much greater challenge than I realized. But nearing home, after a short burst of energy, I wondered if the barriers are more psychological rather than physical in nature. Perhaps I could have ridden further today, but time was a limiting factor, I was frozen cold and hungry, and tired (6am starts at work all week, not unusual), as well as having ridden 25 miles the previous day. It still nags me that even after splitting the distance across two days, I only managed 55 miles.