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22 January 2015

My Observations on Cycling Reasonably Long Distances

So I've bought a hybrid bike to get fit and also challenge myself to complete longer and longer distances. The challenge of completing long (for me) distances excited/excites me more than simply peddling away in order to be fitter and stronger. I see the latter as a mere consequence of the former.

I've ridden bikes before, but usually only for an hour at a time. This time I wanted to test myself and see if I could go for much longer distances.

My first challenge was the Wellingborough Loop:-

wellingborough loop

....30 miles, and over 3 hours of cycling!

I'd done a few 10 milers to train for this one. Yes, that might sound like I was ill-prepared for a distance 3 times my training, but....sometimes it's a case of "just do it".

I prepared myself for 3 hours in the saddle :-
  • helmet
  • high-vis jacket
  • plenty of layers (middle of winter)
  • mobile phone fully charged
  • spare inner tube + means to change a tyre
  • food and drink
My mind wavered in the first 15 to 20 minutes of the journey (which was mostly uphill) - was I going to be able to do this? However, cycling is a bit like swimming (I do a lot of swimming) - it's actually very forgiving on the body (assuming right saddle height!) - and within 90 minutes of the trip, I knew I was going to complete it.

The last 60 minutes or so were tiring, but perfectly "do-able". There was a sense of achievement after getting back home 3 hours and 15 minutes later, and I slept well the following night, with little in the way of stiffness/soreness the next day.

I've since done this loop 3 times, getting faster each time. I quickly understood the cycling maxim of "cycling doesn't get easier, it just gets faster" to be true. I also learnt that if you feel warm when you set off on your bike, you'll be baking hot in 5 minutes time. It's better to feel a little cold when you're starting off (your pumping legs will soon warm up your body). But...gloves....you need gloves in winter, no matter what. My hands did not get warm no matter how fast I was peddling. My feet were also cold too. Extremities get cold and stay cold, without extra layers around them.

My next trip is a 35-miler :-

naesby loop

....with a 46 mile trip planned sometime in February:-

newport loop

 







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