A couple of Sundays ago, I couldn’t run. I had the time and I had the inclination, however my body was mounting a bit of a protest with something niggling a little in my hip/glute so I knew it was time to back off and book a physio appointment. But sitting at home while Steve headed out for a run just wasn’t appealing, so I decided this was the ideal opportunity to spend some quality time reacquainting myself with my trusty steed Trixie.
After the Etape Caledonia last year I felt Trixie and I needed a break. I had hoped to spend some time cycling during that summer, but Mother Nature had other ideas and presented less than ideal cycling weather, so poor Trixie stayed largely neglected until a few weeks ago when I treated her to a little maintenance ahead of the Relay Wild Triathlon. Although that event wasn’t a shining success for me, it did remind me that I quite enjoy cycling (not as much as running, but I do enjoy it) and I realised I should try to do it a bit more. Now here was my chance.
Not one for doing things by halves, I decided to head out for about 30 miles. My long runs recently have been in the 14-16 mile region, so I figured I would have the fitness, and since I’ve been using the bike in the gym for some interval work, my backside has had some saddle time so it wouldn’t be too much of a shock to my tender posterior! So I stuck a couple of water bottles on my frame, packed a couple of gels, and headed off on a route I’ve not been on for over a year as it’s just a little too far from home for a run.
And I loved it.
There was something so nice about going somewhere different, rather than the familiar routes I run on. It was good to feel my legs working and my heart rate rising, while the wind whistled by. And it was nice to exchange a few pleasantries with other cyclists, runners and walkers as I meandered my way around.
Although that’s not to say my mini-adventure was all plain sailing. My first issue was that my Garmin wasn’t sufficiently charged and so it gave up after about 10.5 miles. That may not have stopped me cycling, but everyone knows if it’s not on Strava it doesn’t count (besides, I did actually want to record my distance and time to see how I was getting on) so I had to make a quick pit stop and switch to the Strava smartphone app instead. I’ve never actually used the app to record anything so had no idea if I’d set it up correctly, but it seemed to work fine and recorded 19.5 miles so I definitely did 30!
Next, while trying to pull up alongside someone with intriguing looking panniers and other luggage suggestive of a real bicycle adventure, my chain slipped off so I had to stop and carry out some roadside repairs. Fortunately, this is one aspect of bike maintenance I can handle, and was on a traffic-free cycle and pedestrian path so was able to stop safely, propTrixie against a lamppost and fix the chain fairly easily. Phew!
My final incident was one from the “you know you’re in the countryside when…” department. I was cycling around a stretch of road I often incorporate into my longer runs, but in the opposite direction to my preferred running route. As I neared the crest of a hill I was aware of a car, which I could not yet see, with the driver repeatedly sounding the horn. Approaching with caution, I soon realised the issue: sheep. That’s right, a sheep in the middle of the road. The car horn had managed to encourage it to the side of the road, but as soon as the vehicle had passed by, the sheep began to wander around in front of me. I stopped and began to edge slowly forward, but every time I thought I might be able to pass by, it changed direction again and I knew I would be putting myself (and possibly the sheep!) in danger if there was further traffic on the road. The sheep was by now running down the hill in front of me and as I rounded a bend it met up with two more woolly pals nibbling on the grass at the side of the road. Brilliant. Held up by sheep. This would be a far more exciting story if it was something like a huge cow or a bull, but I got sheep! Eventually I was able to pass and continue my ride, but I did miss out on a rather nice descent while I edged along behind those pesky
Arriving home with no further incidents, I got a couple of photos “avec bike” before tucking Trixie in for a rest. It may not have been a terribly speedy ride, but it was enjoyable. The object was not to set any blistering records (although I did pick up a couple of Strava PRs!) but to get back in the saddle and see what I had. It’s a real testament to my running fitness that I was able to jump on my bike and knock out 30 miles fairly easily given how little cycling I’ve done outside the gym in the last year or so. Now I just have to remember this and maybe take Trixie out a couple more times before the weather becomes too miserable!
Do you enjoy cycling? If so, how often do you ride?
What would be your ideal way to spend a Sunday morning?
Any interesting animal encounters?