The good news is that I know exactly why I found it hard: I was ill, and I had not prepared. Before Christmas I managed to get up to this distance fairly easily, and had virtually no pain anywhere. But before Christmas I was cycling mid-week as well as at weekends. Now, if you just think about it logically, is it fair to expect a weak and flabby and rather snotty body to do such a big distance when it's been existing on a diet of chocolate and tea, and when the most exercise it's had is the lifting of the kettle? Not really. So would it perhaps be better to give the weak and flabby body some fair warning, and allow it to adjust by degrees and build up to the big distances, by letting it have a couple of practice goes in the week? Yes, I think it would.
These are the things that I had to learn how to deal with yesterday - and let me just say that, actually, it was good to experience them, even though they were not very nice, because it's all part of the learning:
- Knee pain. Pain around the side of the right knee, to be a little more precise. It hurt, quite a lot, and was a little bit scary. I did think that my knee cap was going to snap off every time I pushed down on the pedal. It's still sore today, but I can walk just fine, so in actual fact it looks like I might have been a bit wussy about the knee yesterday. We shall see; if it drops off during the week I'll let you know. This is one of those things that, although perhaps scary at the time, turns out to be nothing much, just a consequence of doing bigger distances, and something that the body gets used to. Eventually it will probably stop. (I have come to this conclusion from gauging the unsympathetic looks from Terry and Kev - their faces both say 'stop whining'. However, they are not experts, and neither am I, so if you are experiencing knee pain, perhaps you might consider consulting a physiotherapist.)
- Back pain. Now this is my own fault, and comes from me not taking care of my back over the past couple of weeks. I have mostly been slouching of an evening - nothing worse for a lower back problem. So, I can sort this one out; and indeed, I am sorting it out now by working at my desk, rather than lounging on my couch to type. I know this back pain clears up quickly once I start taking care of myself again. Good-o.
- Nausea. Now, the nausea yesterday didn't arrive until we were on the journey back, so that's a good thing. If it had started on the outward journey then it might have been a lot more horrible. As it was I felt sick almost the whole way down the A6 (about 20 miles). I think it was my body telling me that it had just had enough, and could I please pull over and call for a taxi with a big boot to put the bike in. Poor body, all flabby and weak. It won't feel sick next week (though actually, it might, as Terry wants to do hill training!).
- Being on the verge of tears. This is a new one, and I didn't particularly like it because it used up some valuable energy. Plus it's repulsively girly, and I'm supposed to be 'manning up', like I said in some earlier post. There was absolutely no need to be on the verge of tears, because I was only doing 60 miles - entirely doable, even with a weak and flabby body. Now, if I'd been faced with 170 miles, and feeling sick and ill, then fair enough - anyone might expect tears. But not when I only had a few miles left to ride. So I give myself a figurative slap for that one. Nonsensical.
- Battling the wind. I mean the actual wind, not the stuff that comes from one's bottom. It was quite a windy day yesterday. On normal days, when I'm fighting fit and all that, it doesn't really bother me. Yesterday's gusts fought us for quite a big stretch, and that probably didn't make me feel any better. But really, what can you expect when you live in the UK? We get lots of breezes, and we just have to put up with it. You can't not cycle just because of the weather.
But what did I gain from yesterday's cycle? Lots of things actually.
- A good sense of achievement, on account of completing a cycle that I did not enjoy all that much. (I did enjoy the first 34 miles actually - it was very pleasant.) I didn't give up, and I don't see how I ever could give up, unless I had a serious injury. I haven't given up on any of the cycles that Terry has planned for me yet. I would be too scared to stop cycling before I got to the end, because that would always make it easy to give up in the future - if you quit once, then you're more likely to quit again, I'm absolutely sure. That may not apply to everyone, but I know what I'm like - a bit of a loser at heart!
- I gained the knowledge that I can battle on through a bit of pain and mental torture. Those thoughts that I've had before of 'I hate cycling, I'm selling my bike!' occurred to me again around the 45 mile mark yesterday. But they were balanced and held in check by the thoughts that 'this feeling will pass, and I will be itching to cycle again in a couple of days'. And the more positive thoughts were right - in fact I'm ready to cycle again today. I'm not going to because I think that would be stupid, with my knee being a bit dodgy. But I will be cycling tomorrow, just a gentle 20.
- I found out that I was right about my mental stamina. I had a suspicion that I would be alright once I hit a bit of a wall - and yes, let's call it that: yesterday I hit a wall - I had a suspicion that I would be able to get over any walls. I did it.
- I discovered that it's best to admit to the bad bits, to the bits you've got wrong. How can you fix things, if you're too afraid, or too stubborn, to admit that you've messed up? I've admitted that I've not been looking after myself properly, and haven't been putting in the necessary preparation, and now I can move on, and take all of this a bit more seriously again.
- It was also good to have a taste of all the nastiness to come! It's about time I started finding it difficult!