It should go without saying that if you are planning to cycle from Bristol to Paris over 4 days that getting some miles in beforehand is quite important. So, when one of the more experienced lady cyclists in our Bristol to Paris team suggested a girls’ “easy” 50K ride, I jumped at the chance.
An update meeting had been arranged at Clifton College for 8.15 so we agreed that we would go for our cycle immediately afterwards.
Sods law, after a week of lovely weather, most of Friday it poured down with rain and when I woke at 6am on Saturday it was still tipping it down! Not to be put off, I checked the Bristol 24 hour weather forecast and if it was to be believed, it looked as though the rain clouds should have moved away by the time we were off. Fingers crossed!
We set off at about 9.30 as planned, my fellow cyclists being Bev (our patient leader), Jill and Ali.
Our route took us across the Clifton Suspension Bridge and through Ashton Court via a lovely long, steep, downhill road, avoiding the dogs as we went. Then we took the road through Long Ashton making our way towards Chew Valley Lake.
Ali was the least experienced of the three of us and struggled initially to get used to the gear changes. As a result she lost momentum on the hills, which she found a bit frustrating. It didn’t matter to the rest of us though because it meant that the pace was easy with lots of stops, just what I needed for this first outing!
For me cycling is a mixture of love and hate. Cycling along flat fast straights without any cars or going downhill is so exhilarating. Going uphill I hate, even in the easiest (is that the lowest or highest?) gear I find it really hard and on the steeper hills I wobble all over the place.
There were quite a few hills on our ride but Bev confidently pointed out that this was good training and that if I did this route regularly I would start to find them quite easy, yeah, right..
Half way round I got a text from hubbie checking the time of our son’s haircut! As if I didn’t have anything better to do! However while still pedalling and puffing hard, I called back and confirmed the time. I noticed that Jill and Bev were also juggling pick up times for their children – Mums rarely get time off do they?
As we clocked up the miles my legs started to ache but I was feeling good, even though my pace slowed, particularly on the dreaded hills. Ali got the hang of the gears and we were able to keep some good momentum.
The last part of our ride was of course back UP the “lovely long steep downhill road” through Ashton Court to Clifton! But we dug in and got to the top without stopping. Here we went our separate ways.
Tired, hungry but feeling pleased with myself, I wearily made my way home. My Garmin read 32 miles and I tried not to think too much about the fact that I would have covered a third of one day’s mileage on our Bristol to Paris cycle!